In The Kingdom Of Ayortha, Who Is The Fairest Of Them All Certainly Not Aza She Is Thoroughly Convinced That She Is Ugly What She May Lack In Looks, Though, She Makes Up For With A Kind Heart, And With Something No One Else Has A Magical Voice Her Vocal Talents Captivate All Who Hear Them, And In Ontio Castle They Attract The Attention Of A Handsome Prince And A Dangerous New Queen In This Masterful Novel Filled With Humour, Adventure, Romance, And Song, Newbery Honor Author Gail Carson Levine Invites You To Join Aza As She Discovers How Exquisite She Truly IsAges Sequel to the Newberry Honor Award winning Ella Enchanted and a retelling of Snow White, completely its own, Gail Carson Levine s Fairest tells the story of Aza a young woman with hideous looks yet a voice to make up for them abandoned at an inn when she was a child.I really enjoyed Ella Enchanted, so I had rather high expectations for Fairest Though the beginning and end were both rather slow, Gail s tasteful writing and curious plot in between helped to make up for it I greatly admire how Gail can so boldly weave unique cultures and intricate languages into her stories The characters, I had a hard time coping with Aza s battle with discovering inner beauty was certainly relate able, but I didn t feel like she truly struggled with it at least enough to make me empathize much with her.I also felt no connection to Ijori, Ivi, Areida, or many of the main characters the character I enjoyed the most was probably zhamH Random comment Gnome Caverns sound like so much fun The setting was good, but I rather wish there had been description As interesting as Ayortha s musical culture was, it wasn t enough to make me fall in love with the kingdom.I do think I d recommend this book, though likely so after one s read Ella Enchanted, so they d have a better knowledge of the setting Fairest makes for a fun little read, and would probably be enjoyed most by pre teen girls You may want to know There is kissing and mild fantasy violence, along with some magical elements. I pulled this book off of the Young Adult shelves expecting some light fiction, but I really enjoyed some of the deeper meanings behind this story Yes, it is a retelling of Snow White, but with insights that really apply to most women today.First of all, the two most prominent female characters are alike in that they find themselves unacceptable like two sides of a coin, even their names are like each other One, however, becomes the villain, and the other, the heroine But Levine paints the two characters so you can see how one, in coming to accept herself as she is, finds happiness and bestows grace on those around her, and how the other, in hating herself and trying to be other than what she is, ends up destroying the kingdom Women are so good at obsessing over their weaknesses an extra ten pounds, a lower grade in math than someone else, etc What is interesting about this story is that Aza the heroine has one of the best singing voices in the kingdom, but thinks and worries about her ugly face She gets to the point where she will do almost anything to be beautiful She finds her appearance so offensive that she believes that she causes pain to anyone who has to look at her.But another character, Ivi, is so obsessed with the idea of beauty that she actually does begin to destroy people in order to appear to the best advantage Her pursuit to correct her one weakness begins to cause major problems in her life and those of others.We are constantly distracted by the idea that our external weaknesseses hold us back from true happiness when really it is the inability to accept our imperfection that is the bane of our existance Why is it easier to notice and worry over an extra five pounds, when the real problem is a dissatisfaction with ourselves and a belief that if we were other than what we are in every respect, things would be better Levine poignantly portrays the incredible harmfulness of envy and shows how hatred of self can come to destroy our worlds, if we let it. When I read a book, especially when I read fantasy, I find myself mentally putting myself in the place of the protagonist Which is why my very favorite books of all time are the books that have strongly developed protagonists that I can identify with well in some way or another I had a hard time enjoying this book at all to start with because the protagonist and I could not be different Superficially, Aza is tall, wide, has dark hair and white skin I m short, small, blond, and tan easily Also she has an amazing singing voice I can t sing to save my life Small things like this could be overlooked if she had some mental or personality characteristic I could identify with or get to like But she doesn t She starts off by being socially awkward, lying to everyone, and allowing herself to be pushed around I HATE it when main characters are this stupid And the prince falling for her right away is totally not even believable I m sorry, but people don t fall in what is apparently love at first sight with people who are physically unattractive and especially men do not do this Maybe he could have come to be attracted to her with time and as he got to know her, but with the way this story is set up, I m finding it very hard to suspend my disbelief for the entire length of it.Anyway, the idea of a country where everyone sings instead of speaks as often as possible and birds fly around in the halls and make messes on people seemed pretty ridiculous to me And to sum it up, that was the impression this story left on me If I had to choose one word to describe it, it would be just that ridiculous I generously gave it two stars because there are probably some young girls who would enjoy the fairy tale aspect despite all the cheesy and irritating elements. This was a really pathetic book a sad departure Levine s other fantastic novels The idea was interesting a take on the story of Snow White where her desirable trait isn t beauty, but instead is her singing voice , but the execution was horrible.The book staggered under one major inconsistency the main character is horribly ugly, but the prince falls in love with her very quickly anyway Hopelessly romantic Perhaps But I call it an inconsistency because Aza was not only unlovely, but almost unlovable Many wonderful heroines are not particularly beautiful Jane Eyre, Jo March, Anne Shirley, Princess Amy, etc , but they have wit, strength, courage, charm, or passion that makes them remarkable Aza had none of these she was whiny, miserable, thoughtless, and full of self loathing throughout the entire book.Also, the prince likes her almost immediately, before he has any chance to get to know her this would suggest to me that either the prince has horrible taste in looks, or that Aza really isn t as ugly as she constantly tells us she is which would only make her whining all the exasperating Her amazing voice and ability to compose music are impressive to him I suppose, and her ability to make him laugh was apparently importantbut he lives in Ayortha, where almost everyone sings and composes well, and he was called merry, smiling, and laughing long before Aza captured his heart Even knowing that she deceived him, he falls for the ugly wet blanket She was never clever, except in her skill at singing She didn t do anything smart, and certainly didn t act brave Her sister says she is kind, but we never see her acting like it What on earth is there to like about her Her characterization, in my opinion, ruined the entire book.There were other problems as well Couldn t Levine have come up with a realistic antagonist thanLucinda Of course everyone who read Ella Enchanted dislikes her already it was so much easier to use her, than to actually design a characterization for someone who would hand out such a dangerous gift at weddings Unfortunately, it didn t fit her character at all Lucinda loves attention and admiration she would never visit the bride alone and give the gifts with absolutely no ceremony or a huge crowd of people around and why would she give a potion of disguise to someone she was making beautiful , and it even discredits her change of heart that comes at the end of Ella It was a total cop out.Last of all, it was predictable Not just in the way that all fairy tales are rather predictable, but in the way that makes the book really boring because the main character is being such a blind fool, predictable Besides the fact that it was clean, there is nothing in this book to recommend.
Just letting you all know I m only going to review books I love There s enough negative criticism without me piling on A book is too hard to write.Gail Carson Levine grew up in New York City and began writing seriously in 1987 Her first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book Levine s other books include Fairest Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for
- 326 pages
- Gail Carson Levine
- 10 August 2019 Gail Carson Levine