Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Let me start by saying that here's a whole lot of imagination and hard work behind this story.

You can see that the author wanted this to be a rich and complex tale.
 Unfortunately the execution at times is less than pristine, and the story ends up not being as magnificent as it could have been.

My analysis of the first half of the book (Yes, it merits one, because they are as different as night and day):

You can name as much goddesses, gods, myths, and tragedies you want, but that doesn't create a solid world building.
The first part of this book was excruciatingly complex and confusing. There were many moments, in which I simply wanted to place this book aside.

There's nothing  _if we were to divide the book in two parts _ that makes this first half feel cohesive as a whole.
 I honestly couldn't understand  the biggest part of what I read. And my mind is thoroughly used to complex narratives.

For me, there just wasn't enough world building. That made it hard,_for me_ to "see" what I was reading.
And  honestly if I can't "see" it, what's the point of it?
Just because of the romance?
Well, that may appease some readers. I am not one of them.
Especially when one resorts to insta attraction... towards the evil guy... whom you're supposed to kill.

Then there was the love triangle road....
 Although I suspected of what was to come, I really disliked this route.
It just weakened Nix as a character.

Then I could have done without her aunt "teachings" right at the beginning of the story. Was it just me who found it awkward?
 Oh, and the way Nix reacts when she first meets the husband? It was a little too much of the cheap thrill variety. A little soap operish....

Her interaction with the other characters, namely Shade, should have been progressive... (yes, later on, we know why it happened, BUT...) since she's a stranger, in a strange house, with a difficult mission.
So the whole kissing a stranger a few hours upon arriving was....not very believable.
Caution could have been used.
And what was that, with that convenient curse?

Like i mentioned before, there was a whole lot of mythology being thrown around here.
That implied a constant Google research!

Of course I know who Demeter, Persephone, Ares, Apollo, Artemis are, but specific episodes,  such as the one involving Apollo and Daphne, _of which I must confess my ignorance _  made me feel a little lost.

Then there was just words being thown around, and for once i felt liken i was reading math!
I had no idea what the author was talking about! Like this one:

 LAR (in Portuguese it means Home): a tutelary god or spirit associated with Vesta and the Penates as a guardian of the household by the ancient Romans.

Then there will come a part in which Nyx makes some sort of joke about the fact that her husband can be compared to a certain character... Mithridates.
Say again??

"During his boyhood his life was attempted by plots on the part of his guardians, who, mounting him on a restive horse, forced him to ride and hurl the javelin; but when these attempts failed, as his management of the horse was superior to his years, they tried to cut him off by poison. He, however, being on his guard against such treachery, frequently took antidotes, and so fortified himself, by exquisite preventives, against their malice, that when he was an old man, and wished to die by poison, he was unable."
Justin, Epitome (XXXVII.2)
Now you'll know of what Nyx is talking about ;)

Okay, I'm probably splitting hairs, but having the bad guy being called Gentle Lord... look, it's like telling me you have to look at it and see a Doberman, but in your head you have an image of a Pomeranian ..
Yes, I'm fully aware of the concept of irony, but it just didn't work for me.

And what's with this girl always thinking about kissing one of the guys? Or having one of the guys kissing her???
Is this the whole plot of this book, with such an amazing cover?

I've never read a "Belle" like this one. She's there not even for one day, and she's already kissing something that she has been fearing all her life!
Then on the next day, she starts lusting after her husband... who is cruel... but handsome... and witty.
Uh, dilemmas...

Positive points of this first half (lol, I know...)
The beginning...
The cover
The writing is fluid, and it tries to be rich... but since there's no world building, or descriptions that are interesting enough, it feels pretty, but without enough substance.
I would recommend reading some Patricia A. Mckillip and Robin Mckinley.

Honestly I can't help feeling that all this hype regarding this book is just a case of cover lust.
Yes, it exists!

This was what I was feeling by the end of the book's first half

I was unhappy, because the story hadn't been able to engage me. But even so, I decided to stick with it. And I'm glad I did....
I just hope that the author's next books won't take as much time, as this one did to get on track! Because... "not enough time, and a whole lot of books to read" would in other circumstances probably place this one in the DNF pile.

So, second part, and all of a sudden, the story starts feeling more consistent.
I was finally able to start understanding part of what was going on!

The writing style gained another spark!
 I loved all those magical rooms, worlds, inside the "Beast" House.
The love triangle was somewhat downsized which made the reading less troublesome ;)

I especially liked how the author was able to keep her characters "loyal" to their initial characterization.
You'll understand this once you read it... let's just say that they're human and, as so, less than perfect.

The last pages of it kept me turning the pages as fast as I could, so YES, it does get better!

For me, the second part would be a strong four star rating!
Can you see my dilemma? o_O

Do I recommend it?
Yes, if you have the patience for complex and strange... and if you don't mind if the romance part tramples the rest of the plot for a while .
The second part is definitely worth reading it. So, if you happen to read it, I would love to know your thoughts on it!! Really!! Stop by and share!!

Oh, and to finish, I must say that the COVER IS ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!!
Congratulations to the artist!!
It definitely creates a STRONG case of cover lust!!

Author Official Site

Buy "Cruel Beauty"

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