I remember the first time I ever read "Ella Enchanted". I thought "This is the greatest book I've ever read and Gail Carson Levine will never top it". In fact, I began reading "Fairest" with lowered expectations--that were quickly shattered by a story that may in some ways be better than "Ella Enchanted".
The story is loosely based on the tale of Snow White. The heroine Aza has all of the features of Snow White--black (actually htun) hair, white skin, red lips--while never actually possessing the famed beauty. I saw Robin McKinly do a similar thing with Sleeping Beauty in "Spindle's End" and I think it's a great tongue-in-cheek commentary on fairy tale beauty. However, Aza does have a marvelous singing voice and a special skill in throwing that voice.
I became more and more captivated as the story progresses. Levine has grown stronger in her writing, and this is the finest prose I have sing from her. Her characters are deeper and darker, while still possessing those irrisistable quirks. Aza is instantaneously likeable, even though she did annoy me at times with her prattling--which is ironically why she was so three-dimensional. The country and culture of Ayortha is richly done, and I enjoyed the sly references to Ella's story. Most of all, Levine has taken one of my favorite fairy tales and disected it to its very heart and theme.
I adored "Fairest". I fully believe it is the finest thing Levine has yet done.
Great twist to the original fairytale Aug 25, 2008
I loved this book. Like Ella Enchanted it is about a well know fairytale but with a much differant twist. I have love all of her books that I have read. This book was alot of fun to read.
Courtesy of Teens Read Too Aug 14, 2008
In a land where beauty means everything, Aza finds herself lacking in every way possible. Her only redeeming quality is the beauty in her voice. If only her singing reflected what others saw when they looked upon her face. She spends most of her time trying to hide her face from the staring eyes of guests at her parent's inn. Singing is the only beauty Aza finds in herself, and she sings often while she is working.
She discovers that she can "throw" her voice and make it appear as though it came from another place in the room! She tries to teach her family her new trick but no one else is successful.
A Duchess passing through the inn on her way to the King's wedding invites Aza to come along as her maid. While at the castle, the new Queen discovers Aza's talent in "throwing" her voice and insists that Aza stay and become a lady in waiting, so that the Queen can use Aza's voice as her own.
When the King is injured, the young Queen is hungry for power and the kingdom is soon threatened to fall apart, as well as Aza along with it.
I have heard great things about Levine as a writer, so when I had a chance to read FAIREST I jumped at it! And I have to say that I wasn't disappointed! I loved the fairy tale setting and the storytelling quality of Levine's writing.
The plot was fast-paced and Aza's growth within the novel is believable. Aza isn't your typical heroine and that made the story so much more enjoyable. I loved that the book tackled the issue of beauty, which is something that I know I struggle with, as well. I know that I'm looking forward to reading more of Ms. Levine's works in the future!
Reviewed by: The Story Siren
a fairy tale about an appearence-obsessed culture Aug 8, 2008
Aza has the most beautiful singing voice, but lacks the looks to match. Although she is paranoid about her ugliness (and treated badly by her culture that values physical beauty and vocal talents above all else), Aza finds herself lady-in-waiting to the beautiful (and self-centered) new Queen. Soon, though, the Queen is using Aza's singing for her own. Even worse, the court (except for the kind prince) begins to suspect Aza has something to do with the Queen's evil behavior. Levine succeeds again in creating a wonderful retelling of a fairy tale, twisting the weaknesses of the old into a moral for our modern world. She illustrates the horrors and dangers of being obsessed with beauty and of our own feelings of inadequacy, the tragedy of living in a culture fixated on beauty rather than morality or character. Levine weaves a magical tale twisting fairy tale elements into something new, charming, and unique, adding complexity and depth to the expected plot and stock characters. Grade: A
All is fair in Fairest Jul 11, 2008
It is one of my favorite books by Gail Carson Levine. In this story Aza is not the prettiest girl ever. Despite this fact, she finds a way to true happiness. Who couldn't love this book!? It has love, sadness, happiness, evil plots, and more. If you're looking for a book you couldn't put down even if your life depended on it, then read Fairest.