Two Minute Review: Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Saturday, November 26, 2011
Title: Fairest
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: young-adult-ish, MG, fairytale retelling
Series: N/A, though set in same universe as earlier novel Ella Enchanted
Pages: 326 (hardcover edition)
Published: September 2006
Rating: 3.5/5

I was born singing. Most babies cry. I sang an aria. Or so I believe. I have no one to tell me the truth of it. I was abandoned when I was a month old, left at the Featherbed Inn in the Ayorthaian villiage of Amonta. It was January 12th of the year of Thunder Songs.

The Fairy Lucinda has once again given a dreadful gift. This time it's a mysterious magical mirror. The gift is disastrous when it falls into the hands of Aza, who never looks in a mirror if she can help it. In the Kingdom of Ayortha, Aza is most definitely not the fairest of them all. Many spurn her. Many scoff at her. She keeps out of sight.

But in the land of singers, Aza has her own gift, one she's come by without fairy intervention: a voice that can do almost anything, a voice that captivates all who hear it. In Ontio Castle, merry Prince Ijori is drawn to it, and vain Queen Ivi wants to use it for her own ends. Queen Ivi would do anything to remain the fairest in the land. 

Gail Carson Levine is one of my longest-held favorite authors; since I was eleven years old and stumbled across a still-current-favorite (Ella Enchanted) this has been an author that I keep my eye out for her novels. That charming, original and fun version of the Cinderella tale stuck in my brain and for years, Ella and Charmant's were two parts of one of my all-time literary couples. Gail Carson Levine returns to her magical and charming fairy-tale world created over ten years ago for another outing in Fairest, but this time the retread is of the classic Snow White story. Like Ella, Aza is a strong female character and one easily identitied with for the intended audience. Even for a reader well outside the target audience for this novel, I still found Fairest to be a creative interpretation of an ages-old myth.

While I readily admit to liking Aza, I didn't fall in love with her or want to be her best friend the way I did with Ella after that novel. I didn't mind the social awkwardness the girl exhibited routinely throughout - it was entirely believable and even to be expected in a peasant girl thrust into a Court with no knowledge, but her repeated lies wore thin. It's hard to feel true sympathy for a character that backs herself into a corner so very effectively. I wish I could invest into her relationship with the prince of Ayortha as well - it was a bit insta!love for my taste. Ijori comes off as nice enough, but there's very little personality there and no further development as the story progresses.

The magic of the novel, though exceedingly slight, serves as a nice backdrop to the more human problems Lady Aza faces with Ivi, Ijori, and missing her family. I liked that the focus was more on the character of Aza, and less upon her rare and unique magic. But sadly, here we are, at The Bad of the novel. I hate to say this, really I do, but for a society built around song and singing . . . the music portion was by far the weakest part of Fairest. The lyrics were odd, didn't fit, or just jarred as a "song" from the musical land. I wish a little more finesse had been applied to that (and pretty much the only) attribute of the Ayorthan people. Well, besides the birds flying in, out, around the palaces and castles. A little more time, detail spent on fleshing out basic elements of the novel would've added up to a more well-rounded, nicely-executed novel.

If you're looking for a quick read (and I mean quick - this tidy little novel only took me two hours to read cover to cover) with humor and singing, Fairest is for you. Though sadly not quite up to the high standard set with Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine once again whisks her loyal readers into a magical land of whimsy, insane and unhinged fairies, wise gnomes, and fearsome trolls with Fairest

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © 2015 Ageless Pages Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Amelia Theme by The Lovely Design CO and These Paper Hearts.