Thursday, February 6, 2014

Discussion: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Fairytale Retellings

Goodreads rating: 3.91 out of 5.00 (1, 135+ ratings)
Goodreads | The Reading Room

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.

Discussion by Chantelle

Despite it being released for just over a week, I know a lot of you have already read Cruel Beauty, and since Nara has already reviewed it, I thought I'd do a discussion today. I devoured this book and must say, it lived up to a lot of the hype, and I'm surprised the Goodreads rating of it isn't higher. This discussion will have many many spoilers, so if you haven't read it yet, here's a link for Nara's 5-star review of it!

Just going to say it again, *SPOILER ALERT*

Okay, so to me, this was my experience of reading Cruel Beauty in a nutshell:
*before reading*: From reviews, I know the love interest is Ignifex...
*starts reading*: Nyx is AWESOME. Her situation is between a rock and a hard place, I get it, I love her...
... where's Ignifex...
*Nyx arrives in the house, and falls asleep*
     Somebody had piled blankets over my shoulders. That was my first hazy thought as I awoke. Heavy, warm blankets. Something tickled my neck and I twitched.
     The blankets twitched back.
     My eyes snapped open. In one moment I realized that what tickled my neck was a tuft of black hair, the blankets were a warm body, and the Gentle Lord was draped over me like a lazy cat, his head resting on my shoulder.
     “I’m the evil demon lord. I know it’s not a compliment, but I do like a wife with a little malice in her heart.” He poked my forehead. “If you don’t sit up soon, I’ll use you for a pillow again.”
     I scrambled to sit up. He smiled. “Excellent. Let’s start over. I am your husband, and you may address me as ‘my darling lord’—”
     I bared my teeth.
     “Or Ignifex.”

WOOOOOOO!!! *in a very happy place of mind for many many chapters*
Shade... what the heck Nyx... Shade, go away!!! (zzzzzZZZZ  love triangles suck)
*continues in this fashion for quite a while* and then I'm sure some plot occurs,
the world building is fantastic, the revelations of the house are really creative
I still don't like Shade
Nyx is incredibly stubborn, not too likeable actually, but you're not supposed to I'm sure
then BOOM!!!
this happens:
“Of course he’s evil and unforgivable.” My voice felt like it was coming from the far end of a long tunnel. “But he is the only reason I ever honored Mother with a clean heart. And if I hadn’t learnt to be kind with him, I would never have come back to beg your forgiveness and pick you over him. So gloat all you want—you deserve to watch us both suffer—but don’t you dare say I will ever be free of him. Every kindness I ever show you, all the rest of your life, that’s because of him. And no matter how many times I betray him, I will love him still.

Plot wise, I had a big problem with the ending.
1. Ignifex opens the box, causing time to unwound...
    After that, it had a very "I woke up and it was all a dream" vibe which I loathe.

2. Ignifex + Shade = Marcus Valerius Lux, who Nyx supposedly lives happily ever after with.
    This new solution to love triangles (also seen in the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare) where the heroine ends up getting to love BOTH love interests... I'm not too much of a fan of. It's too neat! It reminds me of the tacos commercial where they're fighting over hard and soft tacos, and the little girl goes, ¿por quĂ© no las dos, "why not both?" ... to much celebration.

Overall though, I thought it was an amazing read, it was really well written and the world building was incredible. For me, the highlight was the character development and the portrayal of Nyx. Although she wasn't the most likeable character, her inner conflict and battle with her "cruel" side was very well justified. I think a lot of people will be able to relate with her, I certainly could.

I'd love to know your opinions about your experience of reading Cruel Beauty- what made you angry, what made you get the feels, if you agree or disagree with what I've said here, anything! :)

Fantastically inventive retelling
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 5/5