Review 212. Stacey Jay – Of beast and beauty.

16113606Title: Of beast and beauty.
Author: Stacey Jay.
Pages: 391.
Published:  July 23rd 2013 by Delacorte Press.
Sort: Stand-alone.

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. 
Rating: 

“Beauty is wherever you find it and Beast is there when you need to defend it.”

This book wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but I must say that my expectations were ridiculously high. Being a fairytale lover and fan of Beauty and the beast, that was inevitable. There were many things I enjoyed and in the end, I do recommend this book, but I was a bit let down by the characters.

I loved the world-building. The story starts with a story of how the world was created. It was an interesting explanation on how the difference between the Smooth skins in the domes and the Monstrous in the desert began. The incorporation of the roses was well-done and creative, especially when everything is cleared up at the end of the story. I think it could have been even more explored, but there was enough information to make it understandable.

On to the characters. Isra, a blind smooth skin princess, grew up without her mother and a clear destiny: she would be sacrificed one day to protect the city. The roses are hungry for Queen’s blood and to keep them satisfied, a Queen must bleed and sacrifice her life. Nobody ever questioned this and Isra will follow the rules too. It’s hard for her when her father dies in an attack and she is soon swept away in a battle for power. She is the Queen, but nobody is going to listen to a young, blind princess with signs of mutation. That is until she meets Gem, one of the ‘beasts’ who is captured during the attack. He promises to help her to stop the mutation by growing a special plant and the two start an unusual friendship.

I had trouble to connect with both character, despite the fact that they both have their own POV. Isra is naive and insecure. I know how that feels, but it got on my nerve. She keeps whining about how ugly appearance and how nobody wants to listen to her. Newsflash: do something about it! Feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to change anything. I did like her character development and how she slowly starts to grow into her role as Queen. Gem confused me. His inner battles were sometimes a bit too much and they repeated the same over and over again.

This made the middle part a bit too draggy for my taste, but the full potential of this book lies in the last part. I liked it when every bit of information came together and how true love conquers everything, because the romance was adorable. Isra and Gem change each other in a good way. I was rooting for them and it was fun to see how two people – who are supposed to hate each other – struggled with their feelings. There is time enough to develop to make this realistic and cute.

If you are looking for an unique use of the fairytale with a fun dystopian twist, this is something you might want to try.

57 comments

  1. Maybe I should try this sometime. Looks interesting. Love your review :)

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  2. OOoh nice review! I LOVE Beauty and the Beast as well and have this one in my TBR mountain! Glad to hear that it was a pretty decent read! And LOVE the little Belle and Beast pic in your signature!!

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    1. I thought it would be appropriate for this review :D

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  3. I have this in my room so I will definitely check it out! I am a little sad to hear about the POVs but it still sounds pretty good. Awesome review! :)

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  4. I love the twist in this one. You're kind of the expert in retelling so if you think this one passed your bar then I'll read it soon. :)

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  5. Sorry you didn't enjoy this one as much as I did, Mel! I adored this book! I agree about her character development--it took a while but Isra eventually came into her own. The ending was definitely my favorite part as well, I love how they both changed each other.

    Great review!

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    1. Perhaps it's because I read so many retellings I sometimes expect too much? I'm happy you loved it though :D!

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  6. A dystopian fairytale retelling? That is something new, it sucks that you could not connect with the MC, it's one of the most important parts!

    Lovely review as always, Mel! <33

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  7. Awww I'm sorry you were disappointed, reading your review made me disappointed from the book as well as I also have super high expectations. Smooth skin princess, I'm curious to say in the least. Thanks for your honest review!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. Don't except TOO much and I think you will be okay :D

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  8. Ditto with the dragged parts but overall it didn't sweep me off my feet. It was overly embellished for me.

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  9. I'm reading A Song for Julia by Charles Sheehan-Miles right now and as much as I like it, I get what you're saying about repetitive writing getting on your nerves. I wish Julia and Cranck would stop thinking the same thoughts and that the story would move forward already -.- Also, I have heard that Isra's growth is quite remarkable and I love that you found it to be great as well. Honestly, I get your issues. However, I'm still excited about it and 3.5 isn't a bad rating. Nope, not at all. Thanks for sharing, Mel :)

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  10. I don't know why I wasn't attracted to this Beauty and beast retelling since it's usually my favorite of all fairy tales. As I read your review I am spotting a lot of things that I will probably dislike in this book: naive and insecure heroine who is feeling sorry for yourself & draggy middle... But I do like the sound of slow building romance and that you say it's unique use of fairytale... I think I'm still on the fence about reading this one...

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    1. But she has at least a decent character development :)! You could always try the library!

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    2. Yes it's one of the reasons why I am on the fence. I will still have to think a little about it before I commit to buy it.
      I live in small town so library is not really an option for me, since their fantasy and sci-fi section is poorly updated. It's ok if you want to read the classics or popular books but otherwise...

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  11. Great review! I would to read it sometime although it wasn't perfect in your opinion. I wonder how I'll like it. Thanks for sharing! :)

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    1. I hope you get to read it soon, so we can compare our thoughts!

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  12. I loved this one! It's the most original retelling I've ever read.

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  13. Awesome review Mel :D I'm hoping to read this one soon. <3 I'm glad you enjoyed it :) Though, aw, I'm sorry you didn't fully enjoy the characters :\ <3

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  14. ooh, this has been sitting on my shelf for such a long time! I've had a love/hate relationship with Stacey Jay's books in the past, but I had really high expectations too. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, along with Mulan.
    I'm sorry you didn't like the characters. :( For me, that's one of the most important parts of the story.
    I hope your next read is better!

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  15. Aw man! I just got this from the library and I'm like you, I have incredibly high expectations (that I'm constantly trying to lower) because HELLO BEAUTY AND THE BEAST! It's great that it has fantastic world building, but not so great that you had trouble with the MCs. An annoying girl is never pleasant to deal with. Lovely review, Mel!

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    1. I can't wait to see what you think about it Sunny!

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  16. It's a shame that you couldn't fully connect with the characters here. I definitely liked this just a little more than you, but I did find Gem and Isra to be more to my liking. Still, I'm glad you enjoyed the rest! I loved the world building too and how the different ideas came together. Lovely review, Mel. :)

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    1. I think that this book is perfect if you can connect with the characters, so I'm happy you did!

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  17. Ooh, it does sound like my kind of story! And it's very helpful to know not to go in with my expectations all high, so much risk of them not being met... I can understand the naive and insecure thing getting on your nerves! Sometimes I just want to yell at characters to grow a pair and get things done.

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  18. I can see where it got draggy in the middle, my biggest issue was the beginning, the explanation of the world. The development of the romance was a plus for me, it did not seem rushed! Great Review!

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  19. I've really been curios about this book. Whiny characters are always annoying but I'm glad things came together in the end. Great review :) I want to give this one a try.

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  20. This one has been on my wishlist for awhile now...but I am skeptical bc like you I have super high expectations! So we will see. I'm not in a hurry to get it, and your review confirms that for me :D
    -Dee's Reads

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  21. I definitely like Isra better than I liked Gem. Like you said, Gem was a bit confusing sometimes.
    I adore their romance too! I was swooning for both Isra and Gem by the end of the book. <3

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  22. I agree with you completely! Those parts of Isra's character bothered me too. I think it was an amazingly unique story though and definitely well written.

    Tressa @ Tressa's Wishful Endings

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  23. Aw, that sucks that it didn't live up to your expectations. I had really high expectations for it too because Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite Disney movies too :)
    The world building sounds fantastic! I'm really intrigued about it now and I really want to see how the rose in incorporated into the story.
    Isra sounds like she'd annoy me as well. I hate it when characters constantly moan about stuff but never do anything to fix it. I think I'll get around to checking this out eventually, but I'll make sure not to expect too much from it.
    Brilliant review, Mel! :)

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    1. *high five* I was happy to see her character develop though. At least she doesn't stay too whiny.

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  24. I love retelling and this tale is my favorite. I just haven't found time to fit it in. Too many books...

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  25. THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING. I STARTED TO CRY AT THE END.
    -Scott Reads It!

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  26. I liked this book too! It actually was a lot better than I expected because for some reason I had really low expectations for it haha.
    If you're looking for another Beauty and the Beast retelling, read Cruel Beauty! IT'S SO AMAZING. Plus it's Beauty and the Beast + Greek mythology and that's FREAKING EPIC.

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    1. Low expectations are great in such situations :D I have an eARC for Cruel beauty and now I really can't wait!

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  27. It's a shame this wasn't as good as you'd hoped. I've been wanting to read this really badly, and another friend just gave it a glowing review…it's interesting to see how your opinions vary! I'm glad I read yours, though, because I probably would have gone in with sky high expectations. I'll have to keep that in mind when I do pick it up :)

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    1. I hope this helps to make it even more enjoyable for you :D

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  28. I really enjoyed this one too, but agree that I felt distanced from the characters despite the POVs. Their voices were all too similar, so she didn't sell me on that. The world building and messages were really good though!

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  29. Ooo, I wanted to read this one, so I'm glad to see it's passed the fair tale queen test! Hee hee. I'm glad you enjoyed it despite a few quibbles, I have to find the time to read it soon.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. Fairy tale queen test, I like the sound of that ;)

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  30. Oh my God! I have never read about this book before but it sounds amazing!!!
    I read Julie Immortal by this author, and I didn't love it, but I'm sure I'll check this out!
    Thanks for the review!
    Lis @ The reader lines

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  31. Oh man, I also have pretty high expectations from this because I enjoy reading fairy tale retellings to a great extent. But I lose interest in the story if there's a lot of repitition. However, I like that the romance is adorable. Now I know what to expect from the book.

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    1. I'm happy to give you realistic expectations :)

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  32. I've been wondering about this one! I've seen a lot of mixed reviews! I think I do want to try it out, but not urgently. Isra and Gem sound like they can be annoying but the growth seems positive! Great review!

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    1. It's a good thing there was development. Made it more interesting!

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