*This review does contain spoilers, especially if you haven’t read the other books in the Lunar Chronicles.*
“Maybe the princess could save herself.”
“That sounds like a pretty good story too.”
Synopsis from Goodreads: In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told. Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.
Feelings: Now, you have to understand that this is technically a novella. It’s numbered as 3.5 in the series, which I find odd. In publication order, that number is correct, but the story itself is most definitely a prequel to the entire series. It was 220 pages long, so I don’t think that’s technically a novella. So it’s really just a full length prequel, and this series desperately needed some background information. This book nailed it right on the head. When I heard this book was coming out, I was afraid it was just going to be a bunch of justifications for why Levana acts the way that she does and that I’d end up feeling sorry for her. I felt pity towards her for about 10 pages, then the Levana I know and hate reared her ugly head again and knocked some sense into me.
Issues: I didn’t love how it was just one, long narrative. It really needed some separate chapters. Also, I was really missing the humor that the other books had. Since I’m marathoning the series, it was really hard for me to transition from Cress, which is really funny, to this serious kind of tone. It just felt a little off, but I know that’s because our narrator is not the humorous type that our heroes from the other books are.
Characters: Don’t worry folks, Levana is still bat crap crazy. I mean, seriously. 1) She likes the idea of infecting Earthens with a deadly disease, then holding an antidote over their heads. 2) She’s at the hospital with Evret, wondering how long he’ll wait after Solstice’s death until he goes after her. 3) She tells Evret after Sol’s death that his wife had “served her purpose.” 4) She’s annoyed that he’d take 2 weeks off work to mourn and get his affairs in order. 5) When she saw the results of the nursery fire, her first thought was on how she would be queen. Those are just 5 of like 142 examples of how cruel she really was. It seemed like she wasn’t so bad at first because her sister, Channary, was a freaking lunatic…but nope. They’re both crazy and evil and selfish and horrible. One major piece of this novel was the glamouring/mind control element. While this explains why Levana wears a veil during her appearances, it just felt like a huge chance to touch on themes of identity and self-worth. But, Levana doesn’t have either of those things, so it was like this weird, antagonistic POV thing that I didn’t love.
Evret Hayle, you poor fella. Part of me really pitied him, but then the other part was like dude…you’re married to a queen…chill the heck out and be happy. He totally could have left after Channary died. Levana wouldn’t have killed him and I think he knew that. So instead, he tortured himself and stuck around.
I loved the plugin of Jacin Clay. I assume we’ll see much more of him in Winter, so it was interesting to see how he fits into this whole Lunar dynamic. It was also different to see Dr. Tanner’s role in Selene’s “death” and Dr. Darnel’s disappearance from Luna after his daughter, the Shell, was taken away.
Final thoughts: Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was fast paced and packed in a lot of information that readers need, going forward in the series. I suppose you could read this book first in the series, but I highly recommend going in publication order: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, then Winter. Next week, I’ll finally get to my review of Winter, which was one of my most anticipated books of 2015!
My reviews for the other books in the series:
Book 1: Cinder
Book 2: Scarlet
Book 3: Cress
Book 4: Winter (coming next week!)
Goodreads rating: 4.04/5
Amazon.com rating: 4.2/5
My rating: 4.5/5
Happy reading! – Caitlyn