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Saturday, June 6
Of Beast and Beauty
My rating: ★★★★½
Date of publication: July 23, 2013
Age: Grades 9 and up
Themes: fairy tale retelling, good vs. evil, monsters, bravery, truth
In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s continued vitality. Still, she strives to be a good monarch, hoping to help the city's Banished people—second class citizens despised for their flaws. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people from starvation—but he's captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses. In an effort to escape, he befriends Isra, trying to win her trust. Neither expect to fall in love, or be the key to the balance needed to restore their two kingdoms.
That summary doesn't even begin to cover it. There are so many levels to this story, so many secrets and twists and turns. And it is so well written. Admittedly, some of the plot elements are a little strange, what with a mix of fantasy (magic and gods) and sci-fi (colonizing a new planet and building domed habitats). And fairy tale. But still. The passion. The emotion that comes from Jay's writing is simply brilliant.
The characters, too—my gosh. They're so complex. Maybe, sometimes, a little confusing-ly complex. It was hard to keep track of Bo's bipolar feelings towards Isra, for instance. But Gem and Isra? Wow. There's so much that each care about or are worried about, it provides so much truth and foundation to their rich emotions. They're really well done.
Basically, if you can handle some a pretty fantastical setting (you know, keep pushing through those first few chapters—they'll make sense later), you should read this. Jay has managed to create real emotion and love. It's just so well done! I can't get over it...
Warning: Explicit Content
Find it at your library or on Amazon