Title: Of Beast and Beauty
Author: Stacey Jay
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
ISBN-10: 0385743203 (Random House Kids)
ISBN-13: 978-0385743204 (Random House Kids)
Reviewed by: Bridget
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.
Quick & Dirty: Full of sweet romance, an interesting world, and a unique sci-fi twist to the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast.
Opening Sentence: IN the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret.
Hundreds of years ago humans arrived on the planet, but their bodies were not made to withstand the atmosphere. The kind and gentle mother of the planet took pity on this new species and changed some of them to help them adapt. They became more like beast and were called monstrous. All the humans unaffected turned against the monstrous and banished them. To survive the harsh environment the humans offered the planet a human sacrifice. By doing this they created a dark and sinister magic. The magic created cites and as long as long as there was a human sacrifice made every 30 years or so they were fed and protected. The kind mother that tried to help the humans put a curse upon the people that could only be broken if a human and beast could come to love each other more than anything else.
Isra is a blind princess in the city of Yuan. She went blind during a terrible accident when she was 4 years old. After that she was kept in a tower away from everyone for her protection, but she had a rebellious spirit and she would leave her tower at night to visit the magical rose gardens. One night while Isra is visiting the enchanted garden; there is a monstrous attack and her father, the king, is killed. They also capture one of the monstrous. Isra has now become queen, but she has very little say in how the kingdom is run. Soon she starts to spend time with the monstrous and he is very different from what she always believed about the monstrous people.
Gem lives with his tribe in the dessert. They live a very hard life where food is scarce and his people are all slowly dying. They need something to help them and their leader has a vision that if they steal the enchanted rose bushes from the city they will be saved. So Gem and some of his fellow tribe members find a way to break into the city, but Gem is captured. He becomes a prisoner and he has to help the new queen plant a garden. He decides that if he can get the queen to trust him, he might be able to eventually escape and help his people. But the more time he spends with the beautiful, blind queen he starts to care for her.
The story alternates between Gem and Isra’s point of view. I had a little bit of a hard time connecting with Isra. She has lived a very sheltered life so of course she is arrogant about a lot of things, but I felt that she was conveniently naive too much. She does grow and I did eventually start to like her, it just took a little longer than I would have liked. Gem on the other hand, I liked right away. He is a strong character that has many great qualities. He truly cares about his people and even though he feels weak he is actually very strong. He tries to do what’s right even when it is difficult.
This was a really great retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast. It was a really fast read that hooked me right away and I had a hard time putting it down. The plot was fairly predictable, but there were a few good twists that I wasn’t expecting. I had a rough start with some of the characters, but by the end I fell in love with all of them. I really loved the romance; it was sweet and developed realistically. The world was interesting and magical. The writing was beautiful and the story was very captivating. This is my first Stacey Jay novel, but it will certainly not be my last. I would highly recommend this book for sci-fi or fairy tale retelling fans, I think both groups would really enjoy it.
I roll my head, forcing my stiff neck to turn one way and then the other. My eyes roam, taking in the stone walls, the barred windows, the heavy wooden door. Still a cage, but not as miserable a cage. And we are alone. The princess and the monster.
I turn back to her, watch her pale throat work as she swallows. I could kill her now. I’m weaker than I’ve ever been, and my legs ache in a way that assures me that standing isn’t possible, but I could still take her life. My arms aren’t restrained. One swipe of my claws at her neck where the blood flows quickest, and it would be done. She’d bleed to death before the guards could open the door.
“I know what you’re thinking.” Her lips twitch.
My right hand flexes. My claws descend with a sluggish lurp, oozing from above my nail beds.
FTC Advisory: Delacorte Books for Young Readers/Random House provided me with a copy of Of Beast and Beauty. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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