Friday, December 11, 2009

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Fairest cover

by Gail Carson Levine

Hardback: 327 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
First Released: 2006

Author Website

Source: Checked out of library.

My Description of the Book:
Aza isn't beautiful. In fact, she looks so odd that people stare and make jokes. But in a kingdom where everyone sings for entertainment--or even to talk--Aza has the finest of voices. She also has the unique skill of throwing her voice so it sounds like a bowl or a statue or another person is singing.

She gets her chance to be recognized for her singing skill when a Duchess takes her to the castle as a companion when attending the king's wedding. He's marrying a commoner from another kingdom. The new queen's common birth will only be overlooked if she has a fine voice. Her voice is mediocre. But she has what Aza wants: a way to become beautiful. And Aza wants to be beautiful more than anything...

Fairest is a young adult fantasy (with some romance) set in the same world as Ella Enchanted. Adults will enjoy it as much as teenagers. The pacing and world-building were good. The characters were complex and enjoyable enough, but I never really bonded with any of them.

I liked the moral that changing yourself to fit in with what others think is desirable has its price. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd rate it as enjoyable, clean fun.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
I was born singing. Most babies cry. I sang an aria.

Or so I believe. I have no one to tell me the truth of it. I was abandoned when I was a month old, left at the Featherbed Inn in the Ayorthaian village of Amonta. It was January 12th of the year of Thunder Songs.

The wench who brought me to the inn paid for our chamber in advance and smuggled me in unseen. The next morning she smuggled herself out, leaving me behind.

I know what happened next. Father and Mother—the innkeeper and his wife—have retold the tale on the anniversary of my arrival since I grew old enough to understand the words.

“You were left in the Lark chamber,” Mother would say. “It was the right room for you, my songbird.”

“It was a chill morning,” Father would chime in. “Soon you were howling.” His shoulders would shake with laughter. “I thought you were Imilli.”

We would all smile—my younger sister Areida, my two older brothers, Mother and I. Imilli was our cat—kitten then.

Mother would burst in. “I knew straight off you were a babe. I knew you were a singer, too.” She’d sing, “It was all in your lovely howl.”

We’d laugh at that.

She’d shake her head. “No. Truly. It was lovely.”

My favorite part would come next. Mother would throw back her head and imitate my howl, a high pure note.

Ayortha is a kingdom of singers. In our family and in Amonta, my voice is the finest. Mother often said that if I tried, I could sing the sun down from the sky.

“I opened the chamber door,” Father would say, continuing the tale, “and there you were.”

I was in the center of the bed, crying and kicking the air.

“I picked you up,” Mother would say, “and you gurgled such a musical gurgle.”

My brother Ollo would break in with his favorite part. “Your bottom was wet.”

Areida would giggle.

Father and Mother would never mention that the blanket I had arrived in was velvet, edged with gold thread.

Read more of Chapter One.


Katy said...

I have read Ella Enchanted (which was great!), and this one is on my wish list. :) It sounds like a great read!

Laura Fabiani said...

I haven't read this one, but I will add it to my TBR list. My daughter loved the movie Ella Enchanted. Thanks for the review!

Genre Reviewer said...

Katy and Laura,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. :) I'm glad my review was useful to you. I've watched Ella Enchanted (the movie) and enjoyed it a lot. I'm thinking I ought to read the book, now, too!