I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 28, 2014
Source: the publisher
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.
With a plot that is Beauty & The Beast meets Greek Mythology, I went into Cruel Beauty assuming I would love it. Unfortunately, I was very on the fence with this book and, even now that I’ve finished it, I’m still on the fence with it. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it. I found it fascinating and intriguing, yet it was repetitive, boring and slow. Almost everything in this book had a love it/hate it contradiction.
Let’s start with Nyx. I liked her in the beginning because of her name. Right off the bat, we get a connection to Greek Mythology. She had a spunky attitude and was pretty hilarious. She didn’t fully accept her fate, but she also didn’t turn and run from it. Her banter with Ignifex was pretty hysterical and she was constantly hitting him and throwing things at him, trying to kill him – I was laughing out loud at several points throughout the book. On the other hand, Nyx was very whiny and bratty. She had a LOT of inner monologue going on and it got very repetitive – obnoxiously repetitive. Sometimes she played the victim, other times she seemed brainwashed. I just couldn’t follow her. I didn’t connect with her and I felt very distanced from her.
Ignifex was hilarious. I think he was my favorite character. His humor, his personality, his attitude. I just loved him. I don’t think we were supposed to love him, especially in the beginning. But, nevertheless, I did. Shade though… I think we WERE supposed to love Shade. He was supposed to be seen as the “Good Guy,” but I just never trusted him completely. And then the end of the book was… Well.. Whoa. This never felt like a love triangle, but if it HAD been, it would have been one twisted love triangle! Because.. Well.. Read it and you’ll see. I can’t explain without a spoiler.
The middle section of Cruel Beauty definitely picked up speed. The first 8-11 chapters are slow, boring, repetitive – as I mentioned earlier. But the middle picked up and I found it to be very interesting, with some great revelations. The ending was just.. Really confusing and weird and I still don’t know how I feel about it. It had me distrusting so many characters that I really couldn’t make any sense of it. I definitely feel like this book is one that needs to be read twice so that you can catch things you missed the first time around. I feel like a second read would make a LOT of things easier to understand.
There were some other characters that I should mention, but I also feel it’s hard to mention them without getting spoiler-ish – like Nyx’s sister, father and aunt. And a certain character we meet at the absolute end – I can’t even name that character cause.. Well, total spoiler. But, mostly, we’re only made to really care about Nyx, Ignifex and Shade – And of those three, really, we learn the most about Nyx and Ignifex, so there isn’t much to say about the other character’s anyway.
Overall, I’m completely torn on how I feel about this book. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it. I’d still recommend it to those who love Fairy Tale retellings or Greek Mythology, but it’s not something I would pick up again.