Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

352 pages
Publication Date: January 28th, 2014 
Published by: Balzer + Bray

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny. 
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him. 
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people. 
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her. 
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
This novel had me all over the place. I knew that this review would be different from all of the others when I only had sixty pages to go and I didn't know how I felt about it. To accommodate the complexity of this novel and my mood swings while reading it, I decided to make a list of what I liked and didn't enjoy as a read it:

What I loved about it:

- Setting: Even though the world is a little bit confusing at times, I enjoyed all of the elements of it. The Gentle Lord's mansion is insanely awesome. It is truly a madman's house, complete with mind-bending rooms and terrifying tricks.
- Writing: The writing is stunning. Both lyrical and imaginative, I couldn't get enough of the way the words jumped off the page.
- Unique factor: I've never read anything quite like this before. Even though this is a "retelling of Beauty and the Beast," I wasn't sure where it was going next.
- Gentle Lord (aka Ignifex): The Gentle Lord has to be one of my favorite characters in the entire novel. I can't talk a lot about him without giving some of the plot away but I really enjoyed all of his witty commentary and his bickering scenes with the main character, Nix.
- Romance: I think the tension between Nix and the Gentle Lord was done really well. I liked the way both characters interacted with each other.

What I didn't like about it:

- Romance: While I enjoyed the romance for the most part, I also didn't love some aspects of it. I know that the whole point of the story is Nix's struggle between her duty and her attraction to her husband but  the whole "I want to kiss him...I have to kill him" nonsense got old pretty quickly.
- Confusing: I had to reread some paragraphs more than once and sometimes not even that helped me understand the intricate details of this novel. To say that it lost me many times is an understatement. I like complicated and complex novels but I didn't care enough about this one to take the time to decipher it all.
- Main character: Nix is annoying. Simple as that. I do understand why she has such an unlikable personality but she still got on my nerves.
- Ending: ???? That's all I have to say about that. I don't even know.

Final verdict: This novel kept me entertained from start to finish and I couldn't stop thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. Regardless of the negative aspects of it, it was a fun read.

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