Once Upon a Time- Fairest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
An evaluation of the book Fairest by Gail Carson Levine.

Submitted: December 07, 2011

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Submitted: December 07, 2011



A good novel or short story can be enjoyed by just about everyone. Depending on who the person is and what their tastes are, the definition of “good” changes; some people enjoy biographies, others like mysteries, and so on. One fiction book that is a good read is Fairest. It is about a girl who has a great singing voice, but is not attractive (people are rude and do not want her around). She ends up being the queen’s lady-in-waiting, and then later on people want her dead, so she flees. People who like fantasy stories should read Fairest, by Gain Carson Levine, because of its creative character and setting descriptions, the enjoyable irony, interesting beginning, and relatable conflict.

One reason why people should read Fairest is because of the character descriptions, which add to the enjoyment of the story by making them seem real. The author uses creative descriptive words, allowing the reader to form a mental image of the characters. An example can be found early in the story: “My skin was the weak blue-white of skimmed milk...my lips were as red as a dragon’s tongue and my hair as black as an old frying pan,” (Levine 3). Here, Aza is described as being pale with dark hair and red lips, but instead of just saying that, Levine uses phrases like “weak blue-white of skimmed milk.” Another example is on page 39, “She was ravishing...fragile, almost insubstantial....Her bones...were more finely shaped than the stem of a crystal goblet.” Creative words of description such as “crystal goblet” are given to the reader so that he or she can visualize and almost touch Ivy. The way that the author describes the characters makes the tale more enjoyable, which is a reason why people should read this book.

Second, another reason why Fairest is a book that fantasy lovers would enjoy is the setting descriptions, which enable the reader to see the places in their mind. When you can see the places, you feel more like you are a part of the story. One example that supports this is, “[t]he lake went on as far as I could see, branching into smaller caverns. The surrounding rock was pink and ivory and wet, like the inside of an enormous mouth,” (233). Descriptions such as these help the reader visualize what the cave looks like. Another example can be found on page 32. “Inside the Great Hall...An exaltation of larks flew overhead, beneath a ceiling that seemed as distant as the heavens.” The Great Hall is said to have a bunch of larks and a high ceiling, to say this, the author uses words like “exaltation,” which is not a very common word to use, and that helps the reader see the location. The setting descriptions in Fairest are helpful for the visualization of the locations, which is another reason why this is a good book that people should read.

Another reason why Fairest is a good story that fantasy-lovers should read is the irony. Irony can make the reader smile, and bring more entertainment to the plot of a book. There are examples throughout this novel. “She drew the curtains farther aside, revealing a glass door. If I’d turned my head, I’d have seen it...I struggled to get out, but I only locked myself in tighter.” (74). At this point, Aza is trying to get out of a room, and tries to climb out the window, but she gets stuck, and the whole time there is a door right next to her. This is situational irony. Another example is on page 265: “There were jeweled shovels, jeweled hammers, and jeweled chamber pots, of all things. There was even a jeweled strongbox- which seemed to defeat the purpose of a strongbox.” This is also situational irony, because you would not expect people to put jewels on chamber pots (toilets) or strongboxes (safes). The irony in Fairest works towards creating a plot that is more entertaining, which is a third reason why people should read it.

Fourth, the beginning of the first chapter is interesting, creating another reason for a person to read this novel. When a story begins with something like “the sun was out and I was standing,” people probably will not want to continue reading. The first few sentences are important. They can play a huge role in whether or not a person will read the rest of the story, just as the first few sentences of an essay can determine whether or not someone will read the essay. “I was born singing. Most babies cry. I sang an aria,” (1). Reading that someone was born singing usually makes a person want to know more, because people generally are not born singing. The way that the book begins draws the reader in and improves its quality, adding to the argument that people should read it.

Fifth, the conflict of Fairest is relatable, allowing for someone to connect to the story, which makes it more interesting and is a reason why everyone who enjoys fantasy books should read it. Aza, the main character, struggles with feeling she is not good-looking because of other’s reactions and comments, and many people also struggle with this. “I ached to be pretty,” (4). Here, her want for beauty is revealed, and the conflict can be known. Another example occurs a few pages later. “I blurted out, ‘Will I ever be pretty?’” (Levine 9). A lot of people have asked others or themselves that question, so they can relate to her feelings. The relatability of the internal conflict of the main character is a fifth reason why this is a good book that people should read.

To conclude, people that enjoy fantasy books with similarities to classic fairy tales should take the time to read Fairest, by Gain Carson Levine, because of its creative character and setting descriptions, the enjoyable irony, interesting beginning, and relatable conflict. The character descriptions use more uncommon words so the reader can almost touch the people Levine writes to life. Second, the setting descriptions make the places in this story seem real, allowing you to visualize them. Also, the irony adds to the enjoyment of the tale by making it more entertaining. Fourth, the beginning of Fairest draws the reader in, making he or she want to read more. Last, the inner conflict with Aza can be understood by people, creating a story that is more relatable.

Works Cited

Levine, Gail Carson. Fairest. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. Print.

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