Wren Reviews: ‘Of Beast and Beauty’

Title: Of Beast and Beauty

Author: Stacey Jay

Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural, YA Fiction

 

Premise:

(Goodreads)

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.

 

Plot: In the beginning, we have a domed city called Yuan which calls for a blood sacrifice every thirty years or so.

We have Isra a princess that goes to a rose garden to ‘see’ because she is blind. She gets attacked by a Monstrous named Gem. Gem is caught and imprisoned. Isra tries to find out how to stop the ‘poison’ in her body from Gem’s attack. She discovers that Gem is also good at herbs and knows how to reverse her tainted traits, being extremely tall and having peeling skin. Gem and Isra work in a garden to plant herbs to turn back being tainted. They form a friendship of sorts, with Gem vehemently denying that he cares for Isra. One day, they escape to the outside world, where Gem lives, and look for the bulbs that need to be planted in the garden. There, their love blossoms, and they kiss constantly. They return to Yuan. Time passes. Isra gains her sight after being told not to take her tea by Bo, her soon-to-be-husband. She rejoices, happy that she can finally see. Gem is forced to leave one night, and Isra gets married to Bo soon after. Gem discovers his tribe is either dead or dying. He mourns, staying away from Yuan for months. Isra is about to be killed by Junjie Isra’s advisor. She discovers that her father was killed by Junjie not a Monstrous. She and Bo narrowly escape the crumbling dome because Isra refused to be killed, to offer her blood to the monster that controlled the city. She is saved by Gem who comes back in the nick of time. He thinks Isra is dying, but, once they get to the outside world, Isra is saved by the magic of love. The two admit feelings for each other, and the world is saved.

 

Character Development:

Isra. At first, I hated Isra. She was whiny and annoying. She kept complaining about her fantastic life. She was the princess. Blind or not, she had a life of luxury. I could see why she hated it, though. I just thought she took things for granted. While I typically don’t say this, this book is the exception. The characters become better people because of love. They truly do. Well…at least Isra. I didn’t like how Gem changed, and I won’t say he became a better person because of love or Isra. Isra becomes a queen. Someone strong and determined. Sadly, she spends too much time worrying about Gem. I know that happens when you’re in love, but one might assume she was some obsessed fan of his not his lover. Or whatever she was in that point of the story.

Gem. I didn’t like Gem in the beginning or end. He starts out this stiff warrior who is determined to make sure his tribe survives. He’s stuck on this idea for most of the book. He finally breaks out of this when he falls in love with Isra. Of course, at the time, he didn’t realize it was love. He turns into this weepy, head-over-heels guy who is in love. Which is a terrible change. I felt like he could have been strengthened by love. But he isn’t. He ends up a sappy character. If there was a sequel to this book, I wouldn’t willingly read it. Why? Gem would be a puppy dog. I preferred him as the Monstrous warrior, thank you very much.

I would add in Bo here since he does become the narrator a few times, but I truly don’t like Bo’s character. I don’t think he’s a major player in their story either. He does have his moments, but he isn’t a main character like Isra or Gem is.

 

Problems: Okay. There are some problems with this book. I liked it. Mostly.

A problem is with the romance. Where is it from? I don’t see it. Sure, you share commonalities, but I feel like these two will have a falling out in the future. They are built on love. Which comes mostly from Isra. When did Gem start caring for her? Why did he start caring? I don’t see it. It is a relationship built on Isra not Gem.

Another problem is the confusing setting. Okay. It’s the future. Okay. It’s a distant place. Is this another planet? Not even our universe at all? I don’t see where this book is set. I just know it’s the future in a desert land with domed cities.

Another problem is the supernatural elements. The antagonist is this supernatural entity that doesn’t have much backstory except in the prologue. We don’t get why it craves human blood. Is it just that sadistic, or did I miss something? I can’t tell. I just don’t understand that.

I didn’t like the fact that there was a lack of action. The plot was dramatic but slow in the beginning. I felt like there was something missing, though. The romance was a bit much, with both sides falling in love almost instantly after realizing a bit of lust for the other. I don’t know how to describe this book, really.

 

 

Good points: I like the backstories. Goodness, the backstories were fantastic. I love how the betrayal was worked in. I wish I had more of Gem’s backstory. Who was his brother to him? What happened to them? I do think there could have been more backstory. Especially for Gem. I like Isra’s backstory. There was something that broke her in her past. It was quite fascinating to read.

I also like how the story is in the beginning.

The character Isra is interesting. I like how she is in beginning. She ends up a lovesick puppy at the end, though. Which is disappointing. I like how she is courageous. She is determined to make the Dark Side/One suffer until she dies of her own accord.

This book didn’t have the action I wanted. There was minimal action and more romance than I like. The book was an okay one.

 

Score: 7/10

Recommended: If you like romance. If you like a new take on Beauty and the Beast.

 

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