By Cynthia Ayala
In the aftermath of The Storybook of Legends, the school is in upheaval. It is Royals against Rebels, those who don’t want to follow their preordained destinies and those who want to live Happily Ever After in their safe, predictable lives. For Raven Queen, she just wants to live her life, not be the leader of the Rebels, and for Apple White, who wants everything to go back to normal; she can’t seem to figure out how to be a leader at all. And when all the madness puts Madeline Hatter in jeopardy, the two must find a way to bring everyone together to save their best friend.
Published on March 25, 2014, by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, The Unfairest of Them All by Shannon Hale is the second novel in her fantasy and fairy tales series for young readers.
This novel picks up where the previous one left off, with Raven Queen tearing her page out of the Storybook of Legends, affecting everyone’s life. While the previous novel took the readers on an internal adventure to find out who these characters were and what they were made of, this novel was a little more fantastical than the previous, taking the reader on a fantastical journey so save their friend Madeline Hatter. But Hale keeps the reader grounded in the plot and the story as they follow the characters on their adventure. So there is a lot of adventure here, and there is also growth for these characters. Both Raven and Apple have been thrown headfirst into leadership roles where they have to calm the fights and riots and pull everyone together. Except they have no idea how to do that. Raven and Apple are not only going on physical journey’s they are going on spiritual journey’s, but they are also discovering who they are now, how to be leaders now. These characters have no idea what to do, they are lost within themselves, and that’s okay, because no one always knows all the answers, and no one should.
So there is a lot of character growth, all around, making the story very solid and grounded for the reader, no matter their age. It’s strongly written. Albeit, there are some shaky parts in the storytelling, mainly about how the story will progress from one point to another, it’s not completely fluid like the previous novels with the shifts from the previous novel. Here, the dialogue between Maddie and the Narrator seems forced; it comes off as an obvious plot device. It was still fun and entertaining, but the fluidity was lost in the production of the story. It lost a lot of its speed from the previous novel and at times, some of the scenes, while fun, felt a lot of filler, a way to bring more of the characters to life. While it was fun to see some of the other characters in a deeper light, to be given a deeper sense of who they were, the scenes compared to the plot just didn’t mesh together well enough to keep up the momentum and fluidity of the story. (★★★☆☆ | B+)