Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

I have to admit. I’m not a fan of Fantasy, and I only really read this book because I felt like I had to know what my daughter is reading. I don’t know if I should call it a futile attempt though, because since she’s a fast and avid reader, even my speed reading cannot keep up with her. Nevertheless, I am trying. Something is better than nothing. Right?

What bothers me about reading Fantasy, especially for the first time after a long time of not reading it, is getting into the world of fantasy itself. I mean, duh…don’t you know that gnomes can tell the future and that ogres can sweet talk you into submission to you will end up as lunch of dinner? The beginning didn’t really grab me, maybe because of my preconceived prejudice on Fantasy, but as I read on, I couldn’t put the book down. I finished reading it in a matter of hours.

Fairest, by Gail Carson Levine, is a story of Aza, a fifteen year old girl who has issues with her looks. At first, I thought it was an exaggeration on her part, but it turns out that she really truly is lacking in the looks department. For compensation however, she truly excels in the voice department. Her voice is truly something else, and what was more, she can even throw her voice around. Ventriqoluism right there. Aza was an abandoned baby, and her family in which she grew up in is the only family she knows, who love her dearly.

A simple innkeeper’s daughter, her life changes when she is asked to accompany a duchess on a trip to the royal palace to attend the King’s wedding. From here on, her simple life with her family is no more, but instead, her life is filled with treachery, evil, deception, budding romance, and an inner conflict. I wished she could just go back to her family and return to her life as an innkeeper’s daughter.

As mentioned, Aza has issues with her looks, made worse by others’ treatments of her due to her looks. She yearns to be beautiful, and it seems that this yearning is something that every girl can relate to. Maybe. Especially in today’s world. She encounters a magic mirror, in which she sees a beautiful version of herself, and this drives her to seek a magic potion that could make her beautiful.

From here on, the story takes on the plot of a very familiar fairy tale, which I am not going to mention. The author has managed to tweak and twist a familiar fairy tale into quite a captivating story. In terms of romance content, I’d give this a P3. Compared to Rice without Rain, I would say the romance content is the same, except that it’s expressed differently, according to culture. The words are not as vividly visual as Rice Without Rain, but the act is what eastern culture may consider to be more forward. In the end, they’re the same.

I personally would not read this, and would not recommend this for Muslim youth. It makes for an entertaining read, but that’s about it.


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