Before I get into the (non-spoilery) review, I just want to say I wish all of my students would read this because it has one of the best examples of tragic irony I have read in a long, long time. I mean, seriously. It is super great. In that horrible tragedy way. You know what I mean.
I listened to the audiobook of this, and Rebecca Soler continues to be amazing. My only real complaint is that I have to look up how to spell pretty much all the names, and I will be forever infuriated that Evret’s name is spelled the way it is. I mean, seriously. What’s wrong with Everett is what I want to know? Oh god, and I just found out how Jacin is spelled. Kill me now.
Anyway! On to Levana and her crazy!
1. This novel operates as a character study that shows exactly how Levana got to be where she is and what drives her by the time the audience meets her in Cinder.
Non-spoiler alert: she’s crazy. Also, her family is crazy. Plus also, I know Adri is terrible and cruel, but it’s not like Cinder’s other option was all that wonderful either. Because Channary is also terrible and cruel (so, so cruel) and Levana, as we have established, is crazy. And terrible and cruel. So!
2. OMG, there is so much unchecked privilege running rampant in this story!
Between Channary and Levana who both get exactly what they want all the time (though Levana a little less so…until she becomes queen), the astounding amount of blindness to the suffering or lived realities of others is mind-boggling.
They are both terrible, terrible people, basically, though Levana tries a couple of times to be generous/caring. Too bad the poor thing doesn’t know how to.
I must also give props to Meyer for showing that queens would do what kings would do. I’m speaking specifically here of [SPOILER]rape and pretending the victims ever had a say in the matter. Levana tells Evret he has a choice, and then says (to herself of course) that she wouldn’t let him leave. Oh, and then when he tells her he never had a choice, she gets mad at him for saying it! Because his choice was to try to love her even though he could never say no to her, ever. Like, she is legit mad he didn’t try to love her when she forced him to have sex with her and to marry her even when he explicitly and repeatedly said he didn’t want to.
Oh, and Channary beds who she wants, when she wants, so she’s just out there sowing her royal oats/spreading her seed. I love that she doesn’t know/care who Cinder’s father is because all it means is she has produced an heir. Too bad she, too, is a psychopath.[/SPOILER]
3. Even though Levana is nucking futs, I did feel sympathy for her at times.
At times. I mean, she is obviously very, very lonely in the beginning of the story and desperately craves both love and attention. And she has no friends. And her sister is terrible and cruel. (SO TERRIBLE AND CRUEL.) But she also has zero concept of boundaries and, you know, is a psychopath. And a narcissist. So there’s that.
Also, I realized that she probably hates Cinder on ~*levels*~. [SPOILER]Because not only is Cinder supposed to be dead and the lost princess and rightful heir to the throne of Luna, but she also probably looks exactly like Channary (which is why Levana recognized her immediately), and, more infuriating for Levana, survived a fire and looks just fine.[/SPOILER]
Or, as my friend Casey said, “There is no scenario in which Levana doesn’t hate everything about her.”
4. Throughout the story, Levana does the following:
[SPOILER]rapes a guy (repeatedly!), murders some innocent people, manipulates pretty much everyone, engages in biological warfare, engages in biological engineering, steals children from families, sneers at the misfortune of others, impersonates a dead woman, and imagines how her parents’ blood would be a good color makeup[/SPOILER]
And she is remorseful for exactly none of it! In fact, she is so screwed in the head that someone will straight up tell her that she is crazy/not thinking clearly, and she twists whatever they say around to fit her own personal narrative. MA’AM. Get it together.
6. If she weren’t completely nuts, she would probably make a pretty good queen.
She clearly loves her country and is interested in the politics governing it. She wants the people to do well and be respected. Too bad about how she’s all gung-ho for bioterrorism and other general terribleness.
7. She lacks empathy–even for the people she claims to love.
The observed mourning period in Luna is three days, and she thinks mourning beyond that makes no sense. Of course, she doesn’t love anyone, so she has no concept of grief, so it’s understood. But she is legit like “That person died two weeks ago. Surely his/her loved one is over it by now.”
8. Levana needs all the hugs in the world.
Correction: she needed all the hugs in the world when she was a child/teen. Now she just must be stopped. Which leads us to Winter.
Nicely played, Marissa Meyer. Nicely played.