Review: Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty
By Elizabeth Fama 
Release date: September 4th 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: Paranormal/Supernatural
GoodReads | The Book Depository

GoodReads synopsis – Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

The Little Mermaid was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up, and I’ve always loved the idea of such a cute story like that transformed into a YA novel. Unfortunately, mermaid books can be quite a hit or miss. And I’ve never found that “one” book that can capture the exact feel of that movie and not make it quite ridiculous and insta-lovey. It’s like I’m Prince Eric himself.

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Well now I did. There were quite a few of unfavorable reviews up for Monstrous Beauty, but I saw this pretty paperback version and I just HAD to have it. Those things happen, you will all understand I’m sure. Maybe my low expectations due to those negative reviews helped a bit, but without a doubt I did really really enjoy Monstrous Beauty.

Even though I just mentioned my search for a YA Little Mermaid, this is not it. Which is actually a good thing because it is so much more. There are creepy parts, gorgeous prose and good foreshadowing. Monstrous Beauty tells the story of a teenage girl (Hester) in this age and a naturalist (Ezra) from the 1800’s who falls in love with a mermaid (Syrenka). These two stories are clearly different from each other and it feels very different as well. Ezra and Syrenka’s story is pretty dark and haunting, while Hester’s story reads more like an engaging mystery. The best thing is that everything is connected somehow and everything you read from the Ezra’s story falls into place.

Another thing that sets this book apart from The Little Mermaid is that there are no ‘cute’ mermaids. Which works for this story. What these mermaids have to do to be able to live on land is gruesome but much more believable. Plus, there is this kind of leader of the mermaids and she gives me the creeps. It’s like the following gif, but creepier and it’s awesome.

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What I love about Monstrous Beauty, besides the engaging mystery and Ezra and Syrenka’s haunting tale, are the wonderful cast of characters. Hester is a great main character, she is flawed but interesting and determined. Other great characters include Hester’s best friend Peter, a little girl called Linnie and pastor McKee. Especially the pastor, because he is Scottish. I may or may not have spoken his dialogue out loud in a Scottish accent.

I do wish the romance in Monstrous Beauty was handled a little bit differently. Hester has this thing for someone but it bordered on insta-love. Everything about this romance was kind of weird, because I never knew if it was real or part of the mystery surrounding Hester and her ancestors. I’m assuming it’s not the latter (I read it like that anyway) and it tempered my enjoyment of this novel. There’s this great guy in the book who CLEARLY loves her, and I just wanted them to KISS ALREADY. 

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verdict4 STARSFinally, an excellent mermaid book. I’m definitely planning to read Fama’s future books. While Monstrous Beauty has far surpassed my expectations and I encourage anyone to read it, it doesn’t come close to my love for Ariel. (Which might be all nostalgic love because I haven’t watched it in YEARS, but still)

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Have you read Monstrous Beauty? Do you agree with me or with the people who didn’t like it? And have you ever liked a book that you thought everyone else didn’t like? Let me know!

 

 

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Review: Cinder

Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder by Marissa Meyer
Publication date:
January 3rd 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Science-Fiction

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer was one of my most anticipated debuts for last year, because it sounded SO amazing! I mean: Cinderella is a cyborg in a futuristic Beijing, while there are even other people living on the MOON?! How awesome does that sound? Thankfully, even though my very high expectations, I ended up totally loving it.

Despite the many futuristic elements, references to the Cinderella fairytale are clearly visible. However, the story doesn’t focus too much on this, so people who don’t like retellings can certainly enjoy this too. The obvious things are there, like the evil stepmother and the handsome prince. The evil stepmother was written really well: she’s not evil just because, but she has her motivations for it. You will understand her especially if you’ve read the free prequel, ‘Glitches’. The book also follows the Prince in some chapters. Prince Kai and Cinder are both great characters, but they do not have many scenes together. When they do meet, they have some great chemistry, but they didn’t see each other often enough for my liking!

In this book, Cinder does have one evil stepsister, but her other stepsister is very sweet. I liked that Meyer changed this from the original fairytale, because now it didn’t seem like everyone was against her. I liked that she had a great friend in her sister Peony. Although Cinder is a great character, there was someone else who stole the show for me and that is Iko! Iko is an android, but not like androids are supposed to be in Meyer’s world. She has a glitch, so she acts more like a human than an android and that’s very hilarious.

Besides for the characters, I also love Cinder because of the amazing world Meyer created. It blew me away! It’s a very interesting world, with people living on the moon and a plague that’s threatening Earth’s population. Besides that I also enjoyed to read about Cinder’s everyday things, like fixing broken androids and her booth at the marketplace.

Even though I absolutely love this book, I did have a few annoyances. Cinder lives in the futuristic Beijing, New Beijing, but character names aside it doesn’t feel Asian at all. It could have easily been any futuristic American city. Cinder is also fairly predictable. This normally bothers me, but it works in this book.
To conclude, Cinder simply blew me away. It has an immensely creative futuristic world inhabited by cyborgs and androids. Cinder is a great main character that you can’t help but root for. Recommended for fans of science fiction and retellings alike!

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GoodReads
| The Book Depository | Author website | Author twitter

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My favorite review for Cinder:
Hafsah from IceyBooks: “I’m always on the lookout for the next unforgettable read. For the book that will leave me breathless, that will linger in my mind, and will leave me begging for more.”

Review: Glitch

10535458Glitch by Heather Anastasiu
Publication date
: August 7th 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Sci-Fi / Dystopian

In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

blackdotsLook at that beautiful cover! Besides that I think this is one of the best covers I’ve seen this year, I also liked that Glitch is a YA Sci-Fi book. After having read and absolutely loved books like Across the Universe and Cinder, I was pleased to find more books in this genre. Unfortunately, Glitch doesn’t deliver on the Sci-Fi aspect at all.

Let me start with the positive points, because there aren’t many I’m afraid. First of all, the plot is okay and interesting, but on the other hand, it’s nothing special. It’s a very generic dystopian. Besides the plot, I liked Zoe as a character. She’s relatable enough and her reaction to these new emotions she experiences when glitching was fairly realistic. Although I have to mention that there are quite a few inconsistencies about these feelings and emotions. Thanks to her glitching, she is experiencing emotions for the very first time. She asks about the definition of the word ‘sorry’ and learns that reddening means embarrassment. I find that realistic. But, what I find inconsistent is that the narration acknowledges peoples’ emotions/feelings easily. Zoe would think things like ‘he looks frustrated’, etc. And all I could think was HOW DO YOU KNOW?!

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Then the negative points, which is actually all about the other characters who ruined this book for me. For example, the ONLY other girl that’s mentioned beside Zoe is Molla and she is described as being a very scared girl. This bothered me because I felt this was done to make Zoe look better and I DON’T need that.

Adrien and Max are the supposed love interests of Zoe. But really, this isn’t romance. Adrien is obsessed and stalkerish and proclaims his love for Zoe the first day they interact. I knew upfront there would be a love triangle so I hoped I’d like Max better. Unfortunately, I didn’t. Fellow glitcher Max doesn’t take these new emotions so well and is super obsessed, clingy, needy and creepy. I understand this is what realistically could happen to a person under these circumstances, but if a dystopian book is so focused on the romance aspect than I at least need to like/care for the male leads. Now I’ve had to read about a guy that’s too creepy and a guy I didn’t really get to know except that he of course loves Zoe (and he has a very wise mother that he probably should listen to, but when’s that ever going to happen in YA?)

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I wouldn’t recommend this for big Sci-Fi fans, because Glitch is VERY focused on the romance aspect. I even think that people who seek a romance book will be more pleased with Glitch than readers who seek a Sci-Fi book. Just bear in mind that the male leads aren’t very lovable.

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Goodreads| The Book Depository | Author website | Author twitter

blackdotsMy favorite review for Glitch:
Meg from Ink Skies“Perhaps the only thing I really liked about Glitch was the concept and the cover”