I’ll be honest, the premise on the back never sounded that appealing to me, but then I saw they were making a movie out of it, and I was like, “surely they wouldn’t make a movie out of a boring, horribly written book” so I got it from the library.
I started this book (The Young Elites, Marie Lu) at the same time as , and they started out so similarly I got really confused. Both have lead girls who are supposedly ‘anti-heroes,’ sisters that are too nice and caring, and sadistic dads who try to sell their daughters into nasty marriages.
However, while Nyx was getting sold into demon sex slavery, Adelina Amouteru runs away from the old creepy dude her father has promised her to, and then accidentally murders her father with a horse.
I would think a horse murder would usually be written off as an accident, but in this world (or is it ancient Greece with a twist, I can’t tell), Adelina is a malfetto, a surivivor of a fever-sickness that left her with silver hair and missing an eye. I’ll be quite honest I’m not positive how you lose an eye because you have a high fever but WHATEVER and also even though she’s disfigured it’s important that Adelina is still hot because that’s where us girls get our real value, am I right? Continue reading
The first few chapters of Dark Eden I was on the fence. The trees go ‘hmmmph hmmph’ like a million times. They don’t have the adjective ‘very’ so the characters say things like ‘it was good good’ or ‘sad sad SAD.’
As you can imagine that gets annoying annoying fast.
My grievances aside, I ended up really liking this story. It’s a nice departure from dystopian YA and twisted fairy tales, which I’ve been reading a bit too much of lately.
The story is set in Eden, a dark planet somewhere out in space. A couple hundred years ago, three men and a ship called Defiant left Earth’s perimeter and jumped through space, landing on Eden. Unexpectedly along for the ride were also two space police–Angela and Michael, who were trying to stop Defiant.
Though full of life, the planet has no sun, only plants and animals that give off light. Unsure that their damaged ship will even make it back to Earth, Angela decides to stay on Eden with one of the 3 men of Defiant (Tommy). They have several children, who have children, etc. until they’ve sired a family of 500+ really inbred folks. Continue reading
Feyre lives in a cottage in the woods with her pretty useless dad and 2 older useless sisters. Because of a promise to her (dead) useless mother, and a crippling sense of duty, Feyre spends most of her time Katniss-style, shooting stuff in the woods with arrows.
Not too far from her home looms the wall separating the humans and the fairies. Fairies around these parts are nasty, scary, magical beings that you do not want to play with. When Feyre shoots a wolf in the woods that evening, she tries to tell herself it’s just a wolf, not a fairy in disguise, even though she purposefully uses an ash arrow (their only weakness).
Unsurprisingly for plot purposes, the wolf was a fairy. When a frightening beast creature comes to claim her life, Feyre must choose between her death or living forever with him on his estate. Grudgingly she chooses to leave her life of drudgery with her horrible, ungrateful family and follow the beastie into the woods.
When they arrive at his estate Feyre’s beastie turns into a beautiful dude wearing a mask. His name is Tamlin, and he and the rest of his court were cursed at a party that has left them all wearing their masks permanently. Feyre’s only role in her new home apparently is to eat a lot of food and dress nicely.
I can understand not wanting to live forever in a magical world where everything can kill you, your host is prone to fits of rage, and you’re bored out of your mind–but I don’t understand Feyre’s longing to return to her family. They really sucked. Eat some more tarts and go pet your horse Feyre, this is as good as it’s going to get for you.
Tamlin is determinedly close-mouthed about what’s wrong with the fairies, why he is wearing a mask all the time, and why Feyre can never return home. Despite the fact that Feyre is there for murdering one of his buddies, he’s pretty pleasant to her. We all know where this is headed but I feel like the author rushes it. One moment Feyre is raging about being trapped with rude horrible fairies and the next she’s skinnydipping with one. Nothing really happens in the interim that makes that feel natural. For instance, no one builds Feyre a gorgeous library because she’s illiterate (FINALLY FINALLY an illiterate character, I was literally just pining for one two posts ago).
However, even if the transition is worked a bit awkwardly, Tamlin and Feyre are coyly flirting all over the place before you know it. But the bad fairies keep encroaching on Tamlin’s territories and something bad is clearly going on–though no one will explain it to Feyre. After a particularly bad event, Tamlin decides to ship Feyre back to human-land.
When Tamlin took her, he brainwashed her family into thinking she was caring for their aunt, and also reinstated all their former wealth. Despite all her earlier bitching about missing her family, Feyre is only back a day before she’s complaining about being with them.
Finally getting wise to the overarching plot of her storyline, Feyre realizes that by leaving Tamlin she left him in danger. She finds her way back to his estate only to find it abandoned. One of the servants explains to her the fairy curse, why Tamlin brought her there, and where he is now.
Let me take a moment to tell you HOW specific this fairy curse is. Like, if someone put a curse on my husband that only a stretch-marked thirty-year old with hip dysplasia, a dachshund, and a dinosaur tattoo could break.
Anyway, despite being told it’s hopeless, Feyre finds the Queen of Bad Fairies (not her real name) and makes a deal to rescue Tamlin. He’ll be freed if she can complete 3 trials set before her OR by answering a riddle the Queen gives her. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I will just say–the riddle is pretty obvious. Like even for me and I suck at riddles.
Despite some plot pain points I’ve mentioned above, I really enjoyed this twist on Beauty and the Beast. Supposedly it’s going to be a series, but it is able to stand on it’s own as well.
In Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, Nyx was raised from birth knowing that one day she’d have to marry a Demon Prince. Her father had made a bad deal–in exchange for having children, one of the kids would have to be given back in to the Prince. I mean, those kind of wagers really never end in happiness right? and this is no different, as his wife dies after childbirth.
So after that happy beginning…Nyx is not really the happy-go-lucky twin, knowing that she’s going to be a virgin sacrifice. She resents her too sweet and loving twin sister, her harpy aunt, her vengeful father who has been training her to kill her new husband. I particularly enjoy that irony–we’re going to sacrifice you, but also we expect you to save us by killing this dude and freeing us forever.
Arcadia, Nyx’s hometown, is set in the world of Greek Mythology, but has been cut off from the rest of the world since the Demon Prince came to town. There’s a pretty complicated explanation on what happened to the monarchy and why their world’s in danger, and the sky looks like paper, etc. but I’m not going to try to explain that. Basically, there’s some magic that the humans have learned that Nyx is supposed to use to destroy the Demon Prince’s house, and that will bring down his empire too.
SO, Nyx rolls up to the DP’s (I’m tired of typing Demon Prince) crib, and it is like the Department of Mysteries in there, rooms rearrange themselves, doorways change, and most of the doors are locked, courtesy of the hundreds of keys the DP wears.
Oh and of course the DP is smoking hot. Also hot? His shadow Shade, who immediately starts macking on Nyx and making out with her on the sly and trying to help her solve the mystery of destroying DP. Then there’s a weird love triangle going on between Nyx, Shade, and the DP.
I am totally team DP because Shade is kind of drippy, and DP has some great sarcastic lines, plus in general demons have that whole bad boy vibe going on. Nyx is torn because she’s promised Shade she’d help him escape, but also she feels like she’s a Not Very Nice Person, and DP has all the best one-liners and is good in bed.
The pendulum on who she’s into keeps swinging back and forth. DP locks her in a room with all his former dead wives (point for Shade). Shade almost kills her trying to show her a magic room that will help her in her quest to destroy the house and free Arcadia and DP saves her (point DP).
Finally Nyx figures out the secret of the house and how to save Shade and DP, but it’s too late. Then shit gets weird and mad confusing. I understand basically what Hodge is trying to do here, but the ending was very convoluted, and not very satisfying.
So while it was an enjoyable read, I’m taking off ten points for the rushed ending.
I read in some other Goodreads reviews that this book was too similar to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Obviously the publisher knows that they have some commonalities since they reference it in the blurb…’if you liked that you’ll love this’ type of deal.
Luckily I’m the kind of pessimist that thinks there’s no original ideas left (I mean, Harry Potter existed before Harry Potter) so the similarities didn’t bother me. I still thought this was a good story with enough differences that I enjoyed reading it.
So Echo is a little kid living in a library (she loves books, I’ve yet to read a character recently who doesn’t love books. I mean, we all love books that’s why we’re reading them. Let’s have a character that’s illiterate please) when she meets a strange bird-lady named who’s a seer. The Ala kind of adopts her—(but not enough that she doesn’t still live in the library and have to steal from everyone to eat…) and introduces her into the magic world of underground bird people. Sounds ridiculous but Grey manages to make the Avicen sound sexy and cool which is not easy when you’re basically describing Big Bird.
Fast-forward about ten years and Echo steals a gift for the Ala’s bday. The Avicen have been at war with the Drakharin (dragon people, of course) for hundreds of years, and there is a legend that only a Firebird can end the war. Fortuitously, the music box Echo gifts the Ala contains a map and a poem that hints at finding the Firebird. Cue adventure time.
Echo hasn’t gotten very far in her quest for clues before she’s captured by a Drakharin (the Dragon Prince himself actually but she doesn’t know that). Through a serious of unfortunate events she ends up teaming up with him, his best friend/unrequited lover, Echo’s best bird friend, and a gay peacock. And it all manages to sound believable and engaging despite the craziness of that last sentence.
So, yes, it is REALLY similar to Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I mean, we’ve got a human that hangs out with magical people, a quest to end a hundred years+ war, an impossible love story, a girl who discovers she’s reincarnated, etc. etc. I found the ‘twist’ a little predictable, I think the author could have pulled back a bit in her foreshadowing to make it more of a surprise, but I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the series when it’s available.
If you know me, you know that I have an obsession with food that borders on the unhealthy. I am always hungry. I know you’re thinking that I’m exaggerating and that there is no way that I could be hungry immediately after I eat, blah blah blah, but I’m here to tell you that it’s a thing that happens. Everyone here can vouch for this. My friends know that I need to be fed every 2-4 hours or serious hanger sets in. I lose all of my charm when I’m hangry. When I used to have a real job, my boss knew that a meeting had been going on too long when she looked at my glazed expression and realized that it was time for me to eat again. Basically, food is my favorite. That’s why I knew that Jim Gaffigan’s Food: A Love Story might be my spirit animal.
Jim and I share a lot of food opinions. For instance, we agree that both sushi and salad, while perfectly acceptable food items, do not count as meals, although our reasoning is vastly different. Here’s mine: how can it be a meal when I’m hungry again in 30 minutes? This is just a snack or an appetizer. THIS IS NOT A MEAL. STOP TRYING TO CONVINCE ME THAT SUSHI WILL KEEP ME FULL. I never thought I’d quote Dolores Umbridge, but this is a lie. I’m happy to go for sushi, of course (it’s food, after all), but you should be prepared to take me for more vittles less than an hour later. Sushi is really just a warm-up for whatever I’m actually going to eat for my meal. The same goes for salads. I keep trying to eat salad as a meal. It always looks so healthy and refreshing, but I don’t understand how people can survive on this. I’ve heard all of the propaganda about putting more stuff in there (“Add chicken! It will totally keep you full!” More lies.), but at the end of the day we’re still talking about a bowl of lettuce. Salad-as-a-meal really only works if it’s one of those late night meals that you eat right before you go to bed. By the time I’ve brushed my teeth and put my pajamas on, the salad is fully metabolized and will not be sticking around to give me crazy Cliff Huxtable dreams. These rules don’t apply to taco salad, of course. Jim and I agree that the taco salad is the king of salads and the only acceptable salad meal. The fried tortilla bowl has a lot to do with this.
Be warned: reading or listening to this book is going to make you hungry. It’s like when you get sucked into watching Diners, Drive-ins & Dives on Food Network and start grazing on whatever you can find in the kitchen while you fantasize about the shrimp sandwich that that guy is making on the beach in Key West and start checking out plane fares to see how feasible it is to have that sandwich in your immediate future. Not that I was doing that yesterday at all. This book has chapters praising the wonders of bacon, barbeque, french fries, cheese, cheeseburgers, and cake just to name a few. (There’s also a chapter about a guy who is drinking a cup of KFC gravy, but that one actually didn’t make me hungry. Just awed at this man’s dedication. It’s possible that he’s trying to join The Church of Bloggessianism where there is extra gravy for everyone.) Even Jim’s complaints about seafood don’t make me not crave it. Instead, I start thinking about how it’s actually better that he doesn’t like fish or shrimp it because it leaves more for me, and then we’re right back to looking at plane fares to Key West. I’ll trade him all of his seafood for all of the hotdogs and McDonald’s that the universe has allocated for me. I think we’ll both be happier this way.