Last week, I finished Fairest by Gail Carson Levine. I was a huge fan of Ella Enchanted (the book, not the movie). Levine created a fantastically new version of the Cinderella fairy tale (which was my favorite growing up) in Ella Enchanted, and the retelling of Snow White in Fairest (though it only slightly resembles the fairy tale) lived up to my expectations.
Here’s the Goodreads description of this book:
In the kingdom of Ayortha, who is the fairest of them all? Certainly not Aza. She is thoroughly convinced that she is ugly. What she may lack in looks, though, she makes up for with a kind heart, and with something no one else has-a magical voice. Her vocal talents captivate all who hear them, and in Ontio Castle they attract the attention of a handsome prince – and a dangerous new queen. In this masterful novel filled with humour, adventure, romance, and song, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine invites you to join Aza as she discovers how exquisite she truly is.
Now, to be fair, I listened to the audio book while traveling to and from work. So some of my enjoyment did come from the narrator, who helped to make a full production of this book. There were different people voicing each character, and I enjoyed it. This book also includes a lot of singing. (In the country this book is set in, breaking out in song like they do on Glee and other musicals is pretty commonplace.) Still, had I been reading a printed copy of this book (which I will be purchasing soon along with Ever to continue my collection of Levine’s fairy tale novels) I would have enjoyed it just as much.
The intelligent humor and wittiness written by Levine had me giggling, chuckling and laughing throughout the book. She managed again, as she did in Ella Enchanted, to bring through the flaws and strengths of the main characters, and I even felt sympathy for the Queen, who is the bad guy of this story. I also enjoyed the small tie in to Ella Enchanted, through the fairy Lucinda and Aza’s sister.
I would recommend this novel for any girl in her tween and teen years, as it emphasizes a person’s goodness being important beyond her looks. In the world we live in nowadays, where being the “fairest of them all” is something everyone yearns to be, and marketers and advertisers make billions off the concept each year, this book sends a good message.