fairestThis book was my first exposure to Ms. Levine. I haven’t read Ella Enchanted nor seen the movie. I was trying to put my finger on what my issue was with this book, and I think that I’ve figured it out. I would recommend this book for folk under 16 (after all it is a young adult type of novel) and not for anyone who has read a lot of great literature. But not because of the content.

I usually think of young adult novels/teen fic novels as classified that way because of content and not because of writing. My recommendation is because of the writing. The style really grated on me. It was choppy. And while I love the idea of a “singing” kingdom. And I love the idea of singing what you are saying, even if it isn’t lyrical, it makes for some hard reading. Contrast the difficulty reading the song content with the almost too facile style of the rest of the novel.

Beside the writing itself, the plot moved along in fits and spurts. Levine succeeds in having the “aha” of the story elude you. Generally, this is a good thing. But here it was more because there were too many twists and turns to follow–a wee bit on the overly contrived side of plotting.

The reason why I think it’s worth recommending to younger folk is that the message is very clear: beauty has nothing to do with what you look like or how great your talents are. I like that. Our society puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on girls, at younger ages than ever before, to be beautiful and supremely talented. I like that in this tale, the girl is ugly and has immense talent, and even that can’t make everything right for her. It’s only once she starts to understand herself, be comfortable in her own skin, that things seem to fall into place. And that is a true life message.

If I read anything else from this author, I am reasonably certain it will only be as a “mommy preview” before my daughter reads it. There are too many great reads out there to bother with mediocre writing.

(Unless, of course, I’m feeling brain dead and want some low-class chick lit–I’m not very demanding about much with that style of .)