Published by Delacorte Press on July 23rd, 2013
Genres: retellings, science fiction, young adult
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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.
God, this is going to be a hard review to write. I’ve been wanting to read Of Beast and Beauty for a while now, but I haven’t gotten around to it for whatever reason. So I was thankful that Lili recommended it to me for Epic Recs. While I did enjoy this book, it wasn’t the best. I’m glad I got to read it though, I do I see myself recommending it to other people.
I think my favorite part of Of Beast and Beauty was the world-building. After destroying our home planet, humans moved to another planet, one with sentience. Our bodies were too fragile to live in the conditions, so the planet gave us magical mutations. But we weren’t exactly grateful and ended up casting out the mutated people while the “whole” people went on to live in the dome cities, which fed off the life force of the planet while killing everything on the outside. This life force is fed by the blood of generations of queens. It’s a little bit hard to explain – clearly – but I just loved the legend and lore of this world that Stacey Jay created. It was an awesome mixture of sci-fi and fantasy. The history was rich with characters and laws and legends.
The writing was also beautiful. The prologue and the epilogue in particular felt like fairy tales. They were exquisite and gave off this fantastical, comforting vibe. The writing in the meat of the story did tend to get a bit flowery and repetitive sometimes (especially during the inner monologues) but the imagery and descriptions were still breathtaking. I didn’t find it very difficult to tell which point of view I was reading at the time, either. And I loved how creative the author was in describing Isra’s world through the eyes of the blind protagonist.
The characters were what really brought down the story for me. Since this is first and foremost a love story, it’s imperative that I like the characters. Particularly since I am so not a romance reader. Unfortunately, I didn’t not feel an emotional connection to either of the two main characters. I did like Isra just fine, but I didn’t really care one way or another what happened to her. There were parts of this story that would have been absolutely devastating to someone who had a heart instead of an empty void like me, but I just didn’t feel it. For that reason, I never really felt compelled to pick the book up once I put it down. The first one hundred pages were especially hard to get through.
I did love the ending. I think it’s the one part of the novel that truly compelled me to keep reading. The devastation was just… beautiful. It was beautiful, and there’s no other way to describe it. It was the perfect ending to this love story and I couldn’t have asked for better.
It’s hard to rate this one. There was honestly nothing really wrong with Of Beast and Beauty but at the same time it just never clicked with me. This will be a great book to those who love romance, and probably a good bridge between fantasy and science fiction. Those who want to be swept away by romance and sweeping gestures are sure to be enamored. Big thanks once again to Lili of Lili’s Reflections for recommending Of Beast and Beauty to me!