Friday, January 15, 2010

Fantasy Friday: Fairest

Fairest, by Gail Carson Levine

Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 326
Reading Level: 10 and up
Enjoyment Level: Highest

This one's a bit last minute, although I planned to get it up here a few hours ago. I decided to do Fairest this afternoon, and picked it up to just skim it over so I remembered enough about it for the blog. I started reading the first paragraph, and here I am five hours later finally getting to the blog... Yeah. I ended up reading the entire thing.

If you're a fan of YA books, you should most definitely have a few specific books on your shelf: Neverending Story, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and Ella Enchanted. For me, these are must-haves. And ever since I read Ella, I've almost voraciously picked up other books by Gail Carson Levine.

Fairest came out a couple years ago and I was immediately drawn to it. It's a quasi-re-telling of "Snow White" set in the same world as Ella Enchanted. I love it when authors revisit worlds, especially when they are as imaginative and rich as the one Ms. Levine has created.

In Fairest, we meet Aza, who has always been "ugly" in her eyes and the eyes of those around her. However, in the land of Ayortha, everyone is a singer. Aza is one of the best. Her beautiful voice and kind demeanor land her in the royal castle and in a heap of trouble with a magic mirror and a beautiful queen. There are also a few gnomes thrown in for good measure.

It's always difficult for me to pinpoint exactly why writing sucks me in and spits me back out at the end of a story. I can go on about how well the author writes, and how great the story is. The characters are wonderful and the setting is vivid. But I think, for Fairest, it's the tone of the main character that really does it.

Aza believes she is ugly and doesn't make excuses for it. Yet, it's difficult for her to realize why people love her. It takes a bout with the magic mirror and a magic potion to help her understand that her beauty is inside, and it's okay. The story and Aza's outlook feel very real. Her lesson is learned slowly and through hardships: like real lessons in real life. She is relatable. Even at the end, she hasn't quite given up the idea that she isn't traditionally beautiful, but she doesn't feel bad about it by then. Aza learns to embrace herself and let herself be loved by others.

If you haven't read this one, I highly recommend you do. In fact, this would be shelved just one below my must-haves. Read it and love it! As fairy tales go, this story is about as honest as they come.

Until next time, go read something good!

~ Vilate

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