by Stacey Jay
To be published by Delacorte
on July 23, 2013
Connect with the author: website | Twitter | Facebook.
Summary from Goodreads: 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.My take: I really enjoyed Stacey Jay's companion books that re-told Romeo and Juliet, so I was excited to see what she'd do with Beauty and the Beast.
Overall, I enjoyed Of Beast and Beauty. I think my favorite aspect of the retelling was the fact that this book wasn't afraid to take some real liberties with the storyline. (This did not come as a surprise to me, as the premise of Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed was that Romeo and Juliet had become mortal enemies.) In Of Beast and Beauty, a centuries-old bargain made between an unspecified dark force and the colonists of the city of Yuan ensures that this domed city will remain prosperous as long as a human sacrifice is offered regularly.
Princess Isra, like her mother before her, is that human sacrifice. Blind since the terrible day her mother died, Isra lives a sheltered life inside the palace. But when a group of "Monstrous" from the desolate desert outside the dome are caught inside it and accused of a terrible crime, Isra's world changes dramatically. She takes an interest in Gem, the young Desert Boy left by his group and imprisoned in the palace. As they spend more time together, each learns about the world of the other. As they begin to fall in love, they will threaten the status quo and threaten to expose some of the lies that have kept their people locked in mortal enmity.
Another thing I enjoyed about Of Beast and Beauty was the way it took many thematic elements of the original story and really looked at them. The concept of beauty (or ugliness) isn't just taken at face value here, but really examined from different directions. The Desert People outside the dome have evolved to be scaly as a protection agains the heat, an adaptation that makes the "Smooth Skins" within the dome think of them as monsters. Isra, who has rough skin herself, has always felt that she's unattractive. I also liked the addition of the political intrigue -- there's a lot of plotting and scheming going on here -- and the way the Smooth Skins and the Desert people hate and mistrust each other.
That brings me to the romance. Isra has been raised to be afraid of the people outside the Dome, and Gem has been raised to think that the Smooth Skins within it are evil. While I really liked this element of the story, at first it felt to me that this unlikely couple fell in love a little fast. To be fair, the book did compress time a little, jumping ahead from one season to the next. But still, I felt slightly cheated. Hate-to-love can be one of the most interesting romantic relationships to read about, and I thought that the time compression prevented the reader from seeing the full evolution of the romantic relationship.
Of Beast and Beauty also has a third POV character, Bo. He is the son of the king's closest advisor and has been hand-picked as a husband for Isra. At first I was a little worried about this leading to a love triangle, but in the end, I thought Bo was a great addition to the story and also a very well-developed character.
I'm a fan of Stacey Jay and Of Beast and Beauty, and would recommend it to those who love YA retellings, but also to fans of the Under the Never Sky series, as I thought this book had a somewhat similar feel.
Have you read this? Want to? Tell me about your favorite retellings in comments.
This will be my giveaway tomorrow on Freebie Friday, so stopy by if you can!
I am going to tart reading this today and I really didn't know that much about the book. It sounds so interesting! Can't wait to read it!ReplyDelete
Kate @ Ex Libris
Hope you love it!Delete
Hmmm...interesting. I haven't seen any reviews of this before and I think I will want to give it a try since I love retellings and also enjoyed Jay's take on R&J. I will have to be aware of the liberties though as I sometimes dislike that in fairy tales (not sure why as the nature of the fairy tale is to be ripe for multiple interpretations.)ReplyDelete
I like the liberties! I don't want just a re-hash, I want an author to take the story and really think about it.Delete
Hope you enjoy it!
OMG! So jealous! How was it? I'm so stoked to read this book.ReplyDelete
I love this author and really enjoyed it!Delete
Great review Jen, I enjoyed her Romeo and Juliet books as well, so I was curious about this and am glad to see you enjoyed it:)ReplyDelete
I did -- love what she did with the story!Delete
Carrie (One Booksih Mom) just put this book on my radar a few days ago, so I'm excited to read your review. I haven't read the Juliet Immortal books, but I like what you said about this author not being afraid to take liberties and veer off from the original story. Also you observations on beauty and ugliness, and the way they are examined in the book, make me even more curious. I think I am definitely going to try this one out:)ReplyDelete
Enter to win tomorrow :)Delete
Great to hear that she took liberties and that you enjoyed, I need to check this one outReplyDelete
I really can't wait to read this one. I need to get on that ASAP. I have heard such wonderful things and your review makes me more eager. This one had slipped under my radar completely.ReplyDelete
My Friends Are Fiction
Glad to help -- hope you enjoy!Delete
This is definitely a book I want to read. I am a huge fan of retellings, and I love the original story or Beauty and the Beast so it makes me really excited. Great review!!ReplyDelete
I'm also still loving retellings -- I thought this one was really original!Delete
Hmmm... I never got around to Romeo Redeemed, but this sounds really great. I hope there is audio coming, too! I have some credits coming up.ReplyDelete
OMG -- you have to read Romeo Redeemed!!!Delete
I'm so excited to see your review today! I'm currently obsessed with Beauty and the Beast retellings and this is at the top of my list. I was honestly not a huge fan of Juliet Immortal, and it had a lot to do with the alternate reality that came in near the end. BUT I do really like when authors play with a traditional story and I'm quite intrigued by this one. I'm hoping this will be a big win for me.ReplyDelete
I thought that the whole mythology of the Juliet/Romeo was a little complicated, but this one is not!Delete
I really want to read this I'm a huge beauty and the beast fan and this sounds wonderful! Really really great review!ReplyDelete
Good review! I want to read this one quite a bit and it sounds great - I'm glad there isn't actually a love triangle.ReplyDelete
Similar to Under the Never Sky? That's interesting! I also love retellings so this one sounds like a winner to me! Hmm, I prefer a slow building romance as well, but I'll have to read it to judge for myself. Great review :DReplyDelete
Alise @ Readers in Wonderland
I've had my eye on this for awhile and I'm glad to see it getting good reviews. I love fairy tale retellings especially for Beauty and the Beast and this sounds pretty unique. Thanks for the fabulous review!!ReplyDelete
Glad to hear that you enjoyed this overall, Jen, despite a few reservations here and there! I am eager to read this myself, since I do love retellings, especially Beauty and the Beast ones. I'll have to read the Romeo and Juliet retellings after this one.ReplyDelete
I like retellings but I often don't find too many I really enjoy. I prefer when it is a very loose retelling with a lot of difference which this one sounds like. BO does sound love triangly so I'm glad he does add to the story and not annoy lolReplyDelete
retellings are some of my favourite genres when written properly. I'm a bit iffy on this but your review has me tempted!ReplyDelete
Fab review, hon! <33
Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale so this sounds like a cool retelling. I will check it out.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing.
How interesting. This book reminds me of THE SUMMER PRINCE mixed with elements of fairy tale and romance. I haven't read Juliet Immortal yet--I started it a while back but got distracted--but it makes me happy when authors do take liberties with the tale being re-told. It's good to make your retelling distinct. Also: "The concept of beauty (or ugliness) isn't just taken at face value here, but really examined from different directions." Yes. Not too many YA novels I've seen do that.ReplyDelete
This one is extremely high on my tbr. I love fairy tale retellings and especially those based on Beauty and the Beast. I'm glad you liked it. That's a little disappointing about the characters falling for each other too fast. I'll have to see what I think when I read it. Fabulous review!ReplyDelete
Tressa @ Tressa's Wishful Endings
I have not been having good luck with retellings, it seems, but I like how you mentioned Under the Never Sky which I do love so maybe I'll have to give this a chance some time. :)ReplyDelete
This sounds like such an interesting take on the fairy tale! I love the sound of the characters and the world, and I'm willing to overlook the instalove and time compression and give it a try. Lovely balanced review! (PS sorry for comment bombing you, I was away all last week and am just now getting caught up on blog reading! :D)ReplyDelete