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Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

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Fairest, a fantasy novel set in a far off land called Ayortha, is a fantastic read by Gail Carson Levine. For anyone who loves medieval themed stories, fairy tales, or is a hopeless romantic, this will be a favorite. It’s about a girl named Aza who has a lovely voice (which is important, since in her kingdom, song is highly valued) but an ugly face (not good – her people also highly value beauty). Through a series of events, she finds herself in the king’s palace, where she is soon appointed as the queen’s lady-in-waiting. In time, Aza falls in love with the prince, Ijori, and is faced with trials beyond her wildest dreams, and challenged to see herself in a way other than through the eyes of others. She destroys her imagined image, the way that she predicts people see her, even before they have met. She begins to see herself in a manner that compliments her. Well, even if I don’t have the prettiest face, at least I have a great voice. And, Ijori loves me, even if my stature isn’t exactly lady-like.
Described in vivid first person detail, this is a wonder of a tale. A five star read, at least! It was especially engaging because of the character depth. The queen in particular is a fascinating character. Despite her unparalleled good looks, Queen Ivi is plagued by a horrible insecurity, and as a result, is intensely jealous of everyone, especially Aza. This creates an interesting paradox because Aza is also quite insecure (particularly in the way of her appearance), and so it seems silly that they are both secretly envious of one another. Throughout the course of the story, Aza begins to see herself in a new light – through the eyes of her lover, Ijori, and her feelings change from envy to pity for Ivi.

Also very interesting is the world that this fairy tale takes place in. Ayortha is a gorgeous land topped off with fairies, gnomes, ogres, and magic. It totally pulls the reader in with its completeness. Anyone devouring this jewel of a story will be entranced with the descriptions that Levine has put into the book, and just the way that she has thought through every little detail, every toadstool, every magic wand, of this mystical land known as Ayortha. One particular place the author did this is when Aza goes into the Gnome Caverns. Levine describes the bath-house, gems, and clothing so well, the reader feels as if they are there.

Again, with its deep characters, fantastic first person viewpoint, and vivid descriptions, this is a great read for anyone who wishes to look at their world and self-image in a bit of a different light. With complete certainty, Fairest is a jewel in the eye of any beholder.



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CelloGal101 said...
Dec. 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Gail Carson Levine is my favorite author.  The only book of her's I haven't read is her newest one, The Tale of Two Castles.  Fairest is one of my favorites, along with The Wish and The Two Princesses of Bamarre.  I strongly reccommend all of the books she has written.

I am very happy you read the book.  Most people haven't heard of Gail Carson Levine, even though she has published several books.  If you haven't already read the books above... (more »)

 
. replied...
Dec. 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Oh! I don't think I liked the Wish,but I ADORE the Two Princesses. I read a tale of two castles, and it was so-so. but anyway, gail carson levine rocks! have you read ever?

tjam

 
beautifulspiritThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm
I love Gail Carson Levine! After reading Ella, I bought three more of her books. Fairest now sits on my bookshelf~ I loved your last line: "Fairset is a jewel in the eye of any beholder." This really captures what the book is really about and what is important when you look at a person. Good job!
 
. replied...
Dec. 14, 2011 at 11:25 pm
Thanks so much! I really appreciate the feedback! :)
 
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