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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
***PLEASE EXCUSE ANY SPELLING ERRORS. I LISTENED TO THIS WHOLE THING ON AUDIO, SO I’M NOT SURE HOW EVERYTHING IS SUPPOSED TO BE SPELLED.***
We all know Queen Levana as the evil dictator who is trying to take over Earth, but here is her past. In this novel, we get to back things up and see the teen years that shaped Levana into the Queen we all love to hate. We get to see her overcome her sister’s taunts and rise to power. It’s an interesting journey, to say the least!
From the moment this book was announced, I knew I’d have to read it. I adore the Lunar Chronicles and it’s still quite a few months before Winter finally arrives, so I needed something to tide me over. I was also very apprehensive. I hate Levana. I want the bitch to die and die bloody. I want to watch as they torment her and kill her slowly. I want that, really I do. I was worried that we’d get redeeming charactaristics here, worried that I’d start to sympathize with her, maybe even feel sorry for her and I did not want that to happen. For all of those with the same fear, that will not happen. Yes, Levana has a sad childhood, being tormented by Channary, her elder sister, but that doesn’t really gain her sympathy because she is already well on her way to being a psychopath from page one of this. And her actions get increasingly disturbing as the novel continues. She is obsessed with her guard, Evret, and she takes that obsession to the extreme. She isn’t initially obsessed with ruling the kingdom, but it eventually shows up and once her mind latches onto that idea, nothing will deter her. The woman tries to murder her own niece, a goddamn toddler.
The rest of the cast is really insignificant. We get brief glimpses of Selene and just a few moments with Winter, the only two besides Levana that really play a role in the rest of the series. The only two I really care about. I felt bad for Evret because he is forced into a terrible situation and he has no way out. Levana will never let him leave and have his life with Winter. That is never a possibility, so he soldiers on with his life and tries to make due with what he has.
I think I was doomed to feel mediocre about this from the start. I am very (VERY) character driven and since I just want Levana to die, I wasn’t really invested in her life or what she did. There were a few tense moments with Evret or the moment when she “kills” Selene that I did want to keep going, but for the most part, this wasn’t something that held my attention. Again, this isn’t due to a lack of awesomeness on Meyer’s part, just a lack of interest on mine.
I originally won a copy of this gorgeous hardback from GoodReads and planned to read through it, but then I saw that Rebecca Soler was doing the audio edition and I’d have to listen to it. I’ve been listening to the prior books with my husband anyway, so why not enjoy this together as well? To really show how little of my interest this held, let me just put it this way. This audiobook is tiny, less than 7 hours and it took us 2 months to finish it because we just had no interest in getting through it.
It gets three stars because it isn’t bad. It had it’s interesting moments and I did like learning a bit more of Levana’s backstory, but I just didn’t care enough overall to love it like I have with the rest of the series.
Rebecca Soler is now my husband’s favorite narrator. She has done a wonderful job with this series in particular. My lack of enthusiasm here is not due to her performance. Though she doesn’t really get to stretch her vocal muscles as much as I’d like here because it’s mostly Levana’s narration and her voice is the only one needed, I still think she does an excellent job.
***Thank you to Goodreads and Feiwel & Friends for providing me with a hardcover copy of this in exchange for an honest review.***