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Review: Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fairest
3 Stars

Aza was abandoned at an inn when she was an infant. Luckily, the innkeeper and his wife decide to adopt her as their own. Aza grows up to have an unbelievably beautiful singing voice, but she does not have a pleasing appearance, to put it nicely. Other Ayorthians value her for her voice, but they're appalled by her looks. They like beauty in every aspect of their lives and are downright offended by non-beautiful things and people.

Aza, in a strange twist of fate, finds herself attending the King's marriage, where she becomes the Queen's lady-in-waiting. But Queen Ivi has her own plans for the country, and those plans might just spark a revolt. Can Aza help to save her beloved country?

I can't quite make my mind up exactly what I think about this audio. I loved the full cast narration, and this book was perfectly suited to that. Sarah Naughton did a fantastic job as Aza, and I also really liked the voice of Prince Ijori. The Ayorthians are constantly singing. Constantly. Just everyday conversations will randomly have a sentence or two sung. For that reason, I think I did a little better with the audio than I would have with print. I find it frustrating to read songs in the middle of prose. (I'm looking at you, J. R. R. Tolkien. That's probably part of the reason I never finished reading The Lord of the Rings. You and your endless songs.) I love to watch musicals, so this should have worked a little better for me than it actually did, and I can't put my finger on why. The singers all did a great job. The lyrics weren't always perfectly metered, for lack of a better word. I could hear the singers trying to fit that extra syllable in somewhere, and it sounded rushed. I think part of my problem is that very few of the songs were fast. They were mostly ballad-y, which worked fine, but there were just too many. One or two, "The Song of Ayortha" in particular, just dragged on and on and on. It was more of a dirge than an anthem. It was actually sung so slowly that I couldn't half understand the words, so I just wanted this song to freaking end already!

The story was pretty cute though. Aza got a little tiresome with her constant obsession about her looks. She's at that awful age where it really, really matters though, so it was understandable. There's a good message for young girls here, but it's not something that bashes them over the head. I liked the twist on Snow White. It was a very original take on the tale, and I never really knew where it was going. The love story seemed to happen a little too fast, but then, they always do in fairy tales, don't they? At one point, I started to feel like the judgmental Ayorthians were only getting what was coming to them. Okay, so we all judge based on appearances, but they never even try to get to know Aza or let her give her side in any story. They were maddening! Prince Ijori was a prince worthy of the title. I really liked him.

I recommend this if you don't think the songs will throw you off. While I had some issues with it, I did like it, and I even recommend the audio. Feel free to skip past "The Song of Ayortha" though!

Listen to an excerpt.

Find author Gail Carson Levine on her website, her blog, and Facebook.

Buy Fairest at

Fairy Tale Fortnight

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

1 comment:

  1. I love Fairest and have read it several times. I'm interested to hear this full-cast audio recording. It sounds pretty good, aside from all the singing. In the book I could just skip over it.
    And I agree, Prince Ijori is definitely a great guy!

    ~Debz @ Debz Bookshelf

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