Of Beast and Beauty: Stacey Jay

Is that the Emerald City in the background?
 

I love Beauty and the Beast.  Its not only my favorite Disney movie as an adult but it’s my all time favorite fairytale and of course I gobble up any retelling I can get my hands on.  The sad truth of the matter, is most of these retellings have been pretty lame.  While I did enjoy Beastly when I first read it, when looking back I raised my eyebrows quite a few times.  Nevertheless though, I was excited when I learned that Stacey Jay was writing a Beauty and the Beast retelling especially when I heard it was going to be a dystopia retelling because that sort of reminded me of the awesome Lunar Chronicles which is probably my favorite series going on in YA right now.  Let’s see if this book was worth a post bar gift to yours truly.

General Summary: Essentially the world is divided to two groups of people the smooth people and the scaled people.  The prologue gives us some sort of explanation of how this all happened.  But its vague at best.  The point is the scaly reptilian people break into the smooth people’s compound and one of them gets held prisoner and the whole Beauty and the Beast  story occurs.

Review:

I really liked this one.  But I’ll be the first to admit its flawed.

And I think you can enjoy a flawed book even if you’re aware of the flaws.

And the flaws here aren’t horrible.  Especially if you consider all the good things this book brings to the table.  And there are a lot of good things.

The writing, for example, is great.  Jay really makes you see the world from Isra’s perspective when she’s blind.  And that’s a difficult thing to do.  I also liked the insights into both Bo and Gem’s world.  Each narrator felt like a different character and I’m finding that that’s a difficult thing to do.  So kudos there.

The story was also engrossing.  While I am still confused about bits and pieces of the world that Jay created, I’ll say that I was taken away by it.  It was dark in a creepy sort of way that made you want to keep reading, even though the world building was very flawed (I’ll talk about this later).

The imagery as a whole was probably the best thing about the book, besides the fact that the story really makes you think.  It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling which seems simple enough, but Jay gives the fairytale layers.  Throughout the book I wondered just who was who and I think there were some interesting things about what exactly is beauty.  And while it made me think, it didn’t hurt my head.  I didn’t feel like I was reading a book for an English class or whatever.  I still enjoyed it.

And it really did feel my craving for the Lunar Chronicles. So that was a good thing.

That being said, as enjoyable as this one was there were some notable faults.  Plot holes were frequent in this one.  There were times I just rolled my eyes at some of the moments of stupidity the characters had.  I guess I really can’t blame Isra, much, since she’s so sheltered and everything but a lot of the times I was like come on…And then the villain (or should I say villains) they could’ve acted but instead acted all super lame super villain like.
Ridiculous.
However, since I’ve seen a substantial amount of superhero movies and TV shows I was able to get past these plot holes fast.
I was also able to get past the world building plot holes too because of the beautiful imagery and the fact that the plot and characterization was so good.
Just like I was able to get past how slow the book was at the beginning because that climax…oh, that climax…
So, yeah it had faults and I was able to overlook them.  Maybe it’s because I thought it did justice to my favorite fairytale even though it wasn’t a literal retelling of the story.  While i’s true that all the necessary elements are there even a transformation scene (which I honestly had mixed feelings about), it wasn’t a literal retelling which I’m sort of okay with….
And that’s my biggest  issue with this book.  That I have mixed feelings about some of the way it was handled.  It wasn’t bad per say, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting and a part of me just didn’t like it.  Did that deter my enjoyment of the book, no.  But….

Best Feature: A Book that makes you think.  As I said before, this story really does make you think.  At times I was wondering who truly represented the beast and who represented beauty.  I’d almost say this one was a gender bender of sorts.  Then on the other hand, you can interpret the novel in a completely different way.  And I really liked that.

Worst Feature:Plot holes.  Occasionally, I had to suspend logic in order to enjoy this one.  The bad guys had so many chances to take control it wasn’t even funny.  There were also things added to the plot that just seemed out of place, like Gem’s son.  His purpose and death scenes were just there.  You really didn’t feel that much for Gem when he died because his grief really was never shown.  It just seemed like something Jay added at the last minute and I was like so what was the point with that?

Appropriateness: Some violence.  I don’t remember any course language.  And we only get to first base a couple of times.  So overall, pretty clean.

Blockbuster Worthy: Sure.  Though don’t ask me who I would cast.  Because that I have no idea.  I do know that this can’t be some cheap ass production because of the special effects that will be needed to create Gem and the city.  But man, it would be kind of cool to see this adaptation of Beauty and the Beast instead of shitty Beastly.

Overall Rating: I’m giving this one an eight out of ten.  For the most part I really enjoyed it.  Yes, there were a few plot holes here and there and I occasionally got annoyed with some of the characters.  But overall I think Jay did a nice job.

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3 thoughts on “Of Beast and Beauty: Stacey Jay

  1. Pingback: The State of Publishing: More on Midlists, Marketing, Kickstarting | Howdy YAL!

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