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Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: Of Beast and Beauty

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Of Beast and Beauty
by Stacey Jay

Plot Summary:

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Review:

Of Beast and Beauty is a very complex fantasy reworking of the fairy tale.  The world-building has touches of science fiction, dystopian and traditional fairy tale feel that adds to the mysterious and elaborate world of Yuan.  With such an intriguing backdrop, I thought this story of inner beauty and tolerance played out very well.

Isra and Gem are the main characters, and while they both have their own agendas, they get to know each other and reluctantly start to respect each other and fall in love.  The story mostly switches back and forth between their points of view (with one additional POV sometimes inserted later in the book) and the gradual unfolding of their relationship created a lovely romance between two people who at first seem not to have anything in common.  It's a very believable relationship - that is not easily achieved - and it becomes so romantic, the suspense of when they would acknowledge their feelings was delicious!  I thought the characterization of Isra was stronger than of Gem - I didn't feel as if I knew him as well as Isra.  Isra was a strong character - determined, despite her disability, and very brave to confront the things she had to face.  Totally admirable.

I loved the role the roses had to play in this story - it's such a creepy and very vivid concept!  The secondary character - Bo (possible villain or love interest - it kept me guessing!) worked so well in this story, I thought his character arc was so touching and almost redemptive.  The history behind the creation of the domed cities and the Monstrous was well-explained but somehow it didn't feel as believable as the rest of the story.  I think if more time was spent on the origin it might have felt more real, but it did seemed rushed over in the beginning.

The moral of this story, like any good fairy tale, is pretty clear, and very timely I think especially for young adults.  This is a beautifully written story with such a unique take on Beauty and the Beast.

I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review.  I was not compensated for this review.

Amazon  Goodreads

(I decided to start giving star ratings to my reviews, since I give them anyways for Amazon and Goodreads, and I've found that I like looking for the rating on other blogs so I can see immediately if the blogger liked the book.)

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12 comments:

  1. I've never heard of this one before but it looks really interesting! Great review, I'll have to check this one out :)

    -Mari @ The Sirenic Codex

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    1. I love fairy tale retellings so I was immediately interested in this one! Thanks for stopping by Mari!

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  2. I HAVE TO READ THIS! Seriously..so me!

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    1. Absolutely! It's definitely your kind of read. :D

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  3. Yay stars! :)

    I'm so glad you liked this one! I haven't read it yet, but it looks so good and Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale EVERRR. Plus that cover is pretty awesome.

    Rachel @ Paper Cuts

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    1. I hope you get to read it soon then! It's such an interesting take on the fairy tale!

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  4. This sounds amazing! I haven't heard so much of Beauty and the Beast retelling even though it's one of my favorites. But at the mention of science fiction and the slow building of the romance, I am sold.

    I'm so glad you added a star rating! I love looking at the designs for everyone who does do it and I agree, it helps to understand if the blogger enjoyed it or not. ^-^'

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    1. The science fiction aspect was so unexpected, I liked that the author added something so new to the story.

      And I've been looking at people's designs for the ratings as well - I took awhile trying to figure out what I wanted to do! :)

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  5. Man, I haven't even read Beastly and here comes another book that sounds just as amazing (if not more)! Plus this is not only a retelling, but a retelling with a touch of my favourite things like sci-fi and dystopian! I'm also very curious as to what the roses do from both the synopsis and your telling of them! :O Eek, do want to read this book!

    Fabulous review, Charlene! :D

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    1. I really liked Beastly (not so much the film though) so I think you have some good reads ahead of you! :) It's is cool that this book crosses genres, it gives another dimension to the story and raises the stakes I think. I hope you get to read this book soon! Thank you for commenting!

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  6. Yay, just got this one from the library this week! I'm so excited, I love fairytale retellings and this one seems so unique already just from the synopsis. Is it weird that I'm dying to find out why the roses are creepy??

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    1. Well in relation to those roses, you're not the only one dying! Haha, okay don't read into that, I don't want to reveal any spoilers. :D

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