Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Tale As Old As Time: Of Beast and Beauty Review

Magical. Enchanting. Absolutely wonderful. 

5 Stunningly Romantic Stars!

Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite fairy-tale. I mean, c'mon. Belle is nerdy, compassionate, and a total bookworm. She knows to stay away from Gaston, who is a complete douchebag. She gave up her life for her father. And she fell in love with a Beast, someone with whom she'd seen the man inside and thought he was worth saving. And let's be honest here, us bookworms just wanted that gorgeous library. ;) 

Because of my love for this fairy-tale, as soon as I heard about this book, I put it on my wishlist. And I was lucky enough to win my choice of book from Kaitlin @ Reading Is My Treasure, so I chose Of Beast and Beauty
BEST. CHOICE. EVER. 

Guys, my love for this fairy-tale knows no bounds! So, although I really wanted to read this, I was also scared that it would be a poor retelling of my favorite fairy-tale. And let me tell you, Of Beast and Beauty did not disappoint me! Seriously, I loved everything about this book. All of the little hints at the original fairy-tale: the two main characters, the ROSES. Not only did we have Beauty and the Beast elements, but there were more from other fairy-tales. Isra was kept in a tower like Rapunzel. There's that underlying theme of sacrificing yourself for the one you love, finding the good and beauty in people despite their looks. Stacey Jay did an AMAZING job of staying true to the wildly popular and iconic Beauty and the Beast fairy-tale (Disney's version, that is) while making this retelling her own unique and original idea.


***

In the beginning, the plot is very complicated. But it never got confusing for me, because the way the author told the story made it easy to understand. There are so many mysteries surrounding the blind princess, the Monstrous, and the city of Yuan. What Isra was always told is that the queens had to sacrifice themselves to the roses so the city would survive and flourish, while the desert and the Monstrous living there were dying. The truth about the roses is far more sinister and deadly than anyone ever knew. And it'll take the love between a Beauty and a Beast to save their world.

In Of Beast and Beauty, we have two main characters: Isra, the blind princess, and Gem, the wild beast from the desert. They sound intriguing, right? Exactly so! These two characters were both strong-willed, stubborn, and had preconceived notions about each other. When they meet, it's all very intense and terrifying. Instead of Isra being locked away like Belle, though, Gem is the prisoner. The slave who wears chains and is "asked" to help Isra with this healing garden. She wants to save her city and her people, and she needs his help. But he's lying to her. And she's also keeping secrets.

However, the two of them form this bond, this connection. They've been taught as children to hate the other. Smooth Skins and Desert People (the Monstrous, as they're referred to by Isra's people) don't get along. They fight. They kill each other. And they definitely don't fall in love. But as the two work together, spend their lonely days filled with story-telling and gardening, they start to form this tentative friendship. This companionship.
Even when Gem tries to deny it, he starts to care for her. As Isra starts to care for Gem. But it's hard to ignore childhood lessons and societal expectations. Smooth Skins and Desert People just don't like each other! 

So, Isra takes matters into her own hands. She's been blind her whole life, and she's never truly seen what Yuan looks like, what happens in the dome. When she takes her place as Queen, she learns tragic and painful truths about what's been kept from her by her father and by the advisors who don't trust her opinions. She's only a girl, they say, as mad as her mother. As much as she's fighting her feelings for Gem, she's also fighting to stay strong against the people who would love to watch her fall, to watch her do something crazy to warrant their concerns that she really is her mother's daughter.

She's such a strong heroine, one who takes action and stands up for what she believes in. Even when everyone thought she was just crazy and mad, she knew the truth. And she tried to make people see that Gem was more than just a Monstrous. That he has a kind and good heart. That he's human, just like they are. 

But how do you make people believe something that is so deeply rooted into their consciousness and mind that nothing will ever change it? The people of Yuan needed a rude awakening, and they definitely got it. And their future will be all the better for what Isra and Gem accomplished together
The loss of hope is the worst kind of loss.
Isra gave the people of Yuan their hope back. Just as Gem gave her hope. These two should never have met, should never have fallen in love. But they did, and it was exciting and passionate and deeply, truly romantic. Like in the fairy-tale, their love was strong enough to survive even the most difficult of circumstances.
I will show her that loving her is my greatest truth, and the most beautiful thing I have ever known. 
Oh, be still my beating heart! I loved Gem as a character; I could see, even underneath that hard exterior and his intense ways, that he had a good heart. He was gentle, so gentle with Isra. While everyone else saw her deformity and the blindness, he saw the beauty within her. He saw that she truly cared for her people, that she wanted to make the world a better place. And he shared that dream. For the only reason he'd been in Yuan was to help his dying people. I SHIP THIS COUPLE SO MUCH. Oh, they are so beautiful together. I absolutely loved watching them fall in love. From their highly volatile first meeting to their tentative friendship. From their heated exchanges to their sweet moments, everything felt real and genuine. It was never forced.

The secondary characters had their own voices as well, even Needle, the mute friend of Isra's. Bo was a complicated guy, one that I thought had redeemed himself in the end. And I hated Junjie. He played "villain" well. But the real villain here was not a character; it was in the legend of Yuan itself. A twisted deception that'll tie you up in knots as you read. The way it unfolded was played to perfection. And that ending was the best part of the whole story (okay, maybe not the best part). But still, it was truly lovely. 

Stacey Jay's writing was enchanting. Lyrical. I was instantly pulled into the story, and I fell in love with her writing style. The two main characters' voices were easily distinguishable and made me feel connected with them and the story. The way she portrayed Isra's blindness was so wonderfully written. Her descriptions gave me images in my head while I was reading, and the story was brought to life right before my very eyes. From intense, dark scenes to steamy, romantic ones, this author knows how to tell a story. And what a story it was.
"Beauty is wherever you find it, and Beast is there when you need to defend it."

2 comments:

  1. I am so incredibly glad you loved this book! I have a copy of it waiting for me . . . I'll definitely have to read it soon. It sounds like a book that I would just love. Love the review!

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    1. Thank you! :) I hope you love it as much as I did! I'll be looking forward to reading your review when you do read it. :)

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