Great Reads brings you book reviews on teen books that parents will love from such great young adult authors as Garth Nix, Clare Dunkle, DJ Machale, Stephanie Meyer and many more.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Fairest" by Gail Carson Levine

I'm a huge fan of Gail Carson Levine, and I certainly was not disappointed by "Fairest". Set in the same world as "Ella Enchanted", "Fairest" is the story of Aza, who, while not classically beautiful (and in fact is considered ugly by most) has an incredible gift of song and the ability to mimic others and throw her voice. In Aza's world, there are two things that are prized above all else, the ability to sing and being beautiful. Most look past her as she's not considered beautiful, but those that know her, love her. Aza's gift and winning personality eventually take her from her adoptive parents inn to the palace, where the new queen Ivi, who can barely sing, catches Aza throwing her voice one day (which Aza calls Illusing) and convinces Aza to sing for her, by threatening her and her family.

Aza begins to detest the queen, but knows she has no choice but to continue to deceive not only the court but Ijori the prince, who seems not to notice Aza's "ugliness" and has quickly become a good friend (and of course, a romantic interest). When the king is injured, things go from bad to worse. Ivi starts making changes that throw the court and kingdom into a panic and it's all Aza can do to stay out of trouble (which quickly proves impossible).

Levine takes the story of Snow White and give it an interesting twist. In fact, when ready Aza's description of herself, I couldn't help but picture the Disney cartoon version a bit (which was probably intentional) even though she describes herself as being ugly (skin is too pale, face too wide, hair to dark and flat). I love how Levine also takes the proverb "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" to heart. As beauty is subjective, it's great to see how others perceive Aza. I definitely recommend this to fairy tale fans, and fans of Gail Carson Levine- you won't be disappointed. And, as a side note, if you've seen "Ella Enchanted" the movie, but haven't read the book- I encourage you to do so. The book was FAR better than the movie.

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