Review: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and BeautySource: Random House Kids – I Received this in exchange for an honest review. 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Series: –
Edition: Hardcover, 391 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Scifi/Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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.

Of Beast and Beauty is a standalone novel focused on retelling the story of the Beauty and the Beast, in a futuristic new world where magic hidden in the shadows tugs at everyone’s lives.

I love Beauty and the Beast, especially the original story, but surprisingly I haven’t read that many retellings for the story. Of Beast and Beauty really adds a new spin the the tale by adding in some sci-fi elements like colonizing new worlds and dystopian government and blends them with the traditional fantasy feel of fairy tales. The fact that this planet has magic of it’s own was really awesome and I loved getting to know the lore for why those inside the cities remain unchanged but those outside have adapted to the heat of their sun by growing scaling and claws. I also loved that it included the degradation of verbally told stories, and how the story changes depending on that person’s culture and just how personal opinions alter the truth. The plot itself is relatively simple, and the book outright gives you the basis of it in the prologue…sort of like the Disney movie does. It’s the standard flow of love, curse breaking, and defying the standards set by society…so in that aspect there is anything new. However I really enjoyed the new take on just how beauty is seen through different eyes and how people can be beast like without ever showing the physical features.

Isra is the princess of Yuen, and she’s considered tainted. She’s blind and many of her subjects find her ways odd and even wild. I thought the whole blind thing could be used as a way to get her to fall in love with Gem, but it’s really not. There is plenty of animosity between the to begin with, and they come to know each other in the normal rational way…talking. Gem I liked more than Isra and I found his POV sections to be the easiest to fall into. He’s gruff and by her standards an animal, but he’s also very intelligent and picks up on things quickly. I wasn’t completely sold on their relationship, since it seemed to be fragile at best during most of the book and with all the lies it as built on I spent much of it wondering when it was going to crumble a part. I think they are cute together, but seeing as this book covers a large amount of time in only 300 + pages it’s hard to get a real feel for their relationship outside of stressful situations.

So overall I enjoyed this one. The whole idea of this society being built from a space faring people and having to deal with a new planet that is seeking to change them was incredibly cool! So while my love for this one is not great I do think it’s a fun book and certainly worth reading.

3.5 stars

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6 Responses to Review: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

  1. aentee @ read at midnight says:

    I love BatB retellings and was not aware of this one– the space setting is a nice bonus! Sorry to hear that the relationship didn’t get to develop, though – as I find that’s the main appeal of the original text. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. libbycole007 says:

    I love the sci fi mixed with the classic story! Will have to check this out.

    http://libbycole.wordpress.com

  3. Wow there definitely seems like a lot of diversity in this one! While the overall plot sounds a bit predictable, it’s the amazing characters and world building that seem to be the winner of this one. I love Beauty and the Beast so I can’t wait to read this!

  4. I was reading Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay last year and the set-up of the story was very flimsy. There was basically no explanation of why certain things were happening, with any kind of backstory at all for the most part. Just as I was about to DNF the story took a little upswing, but i
    had two or three ARCs that needed to be read ASAP, so I put the book down. Since then I have heard several people say they were annoyed with the romance elements in the book, so that has kind of dissuaded me from picking it back up. I am wondering, seeing that she has a series of drugstore Romances she writes, if the romance in her YA Fantasy has that “flavor”. If so i wouldn’t like it because i am not a fan of Romance stories.

  5. Love the original but haven’t read many retellings either. Have been eyeing this one for a while though

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