Date read: October 14, 2013
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In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...Thoughts on Of Beast and Beauty: Things you should know: I'm a sucker for new twists on old favorites and I love layered worlds. This book gives me both those things.
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.
Frankly, Isra's story slayed me. As terrible and hard as Gem's life is, Isra's imprisonment and solitude got to me. That she was expected to sacrifice herself -- no matter the reason -- made me squirm. The lies she was told, the truths that were hidden from her... geez, everything about this poor girl hurt. Even when she becomes queen, she has no power.
And she's okay with that because it's expected and she's resigned to it.
If Gem hadn't poked her into standing up for herself and taking some of the power she was due as a queen, she would have remained ignorant. I just... FELT for her.
Speaking of Gem, I liked the guy. It took him a while to let go of his hangups but he did. Okay, it took him quite a while but can you blame him? Both he and Isra had a lot of growing to do before they could see each other with clear eyes and no guilt over caring for someone who was so different.
Can you tell I liked the book? I did. I liked it a lot. I liked the twists and the turns. I liked the plotting and scheming behind the scenes. I liked Isra and Gem.