Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Of Beast and Beauty - Book Review

Of Beast and Beauty
by Stacey Jay

What is it about:
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.

What did I think of it:
I will confess: I have a soft spot for Beauty and the Beast retellings. So I had to try this Dystopian/SciFi retelling.

And this is a beautiful read.

I like how Jay put some of the story elements upside down. It's the mutant 'beast' who is the prisoner instead of the beauty for example. Instead of staying too true to the original story, Jay made the story her own.

And this story makes you think as well. Jay touches on some serious subjects, but weaves them into the story in a natural way. I posted a quote from the book that I could relate to here.

The story is told from three viewpoints: Isra, Gem, and Bo (a guard). I liked how Bo is a character I was not sure about. One moment I liked him, the next I hated him. It took a long time to get the measure of him.

There were some things that I thought were too easy and could have been left out, but overall I really enjoyed this story, and was rooting for Isra and Gem to realize what they felt for each other, and to save the day.

All in all this is great retelling of Beauty and the Beast that will most certainly be reread. I will also try other books by Stacey Jay.

Why should you read it:
This is a beautiful and very enjoyable Dystopian/SciFi YA read.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery


Enbrethiliel said...


I like faerie tale retellings as well. Those of Beauty and the Beast seem to have the greatest resonance. (Have you read Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge?)

Incidentally, a friend of mine who LOVES Twilight keeps insisting that it's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I think that it's obviously a vampire version of Snow White, because a "kiss" from the prince will do something else for our pale princess . . . but because I went into the discussion without an encyclopaedic knowledge of the saga, I just ended up sputtering. LOL!

Sullivan McPig said...

@Enbrethiliel: I will have to investigate Cruel Beauty.

As for Twilight: I don't see anything in Twilight that makes me think it's a Beauty and the Beast retelling. (Maybe if she had picked Jacob ;-))
Snow White I can understand