Monthly Giveaway and Review: Of Beast and Beauty

It's a new month, so time for another giveaway. I'm going to do it a little different this month, in that I am posting a review and giveaway together. One winner will receive a hardback (read once) copy of Of Beast and Beauty. This giveaway will run through the rest of July, so plenty of opportunities to enter.
Of Beast and Beauty
by Stacey Jay
YA SciFi
July 23rd 2013 by Delacorte Press

Goodreads summary:
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love

What I thought:
I love the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast. I went through a stage a couple of years ago where I read every retelling based on it that I could get my hands on. When I saw that Stacey Jay had written a book based off of the fairy tale I was very excited. One thing I will say, at this point, is that she did a fabulous job in taking the concept and storyline and really making her own original story. She uses beauty, beast, and the roses in very creative ways and this was probably one of the things that stuck out to me the most about this book. It is definitely unique.

I wish that Isra would have been stronger sooner. I understand how she was basically hidden away and was also blind, but when she takes over for her father I wanted her to step more fully into her role. I also thought she was definitely more trusting than she should have been. My bigger dislike was the sexual content. There isn't any actual sex in this book, but there are several references to it and one specific part where there is some making out that crossed a line for me. It isn't necessarily descriptive per se, but I didn't think it needed to be included and not something I would let my nieces or daughter read.

I really liked the setting - this new world that the smooth people came to and the way the inhabitants evolved to survive the climate. It was interesting to follow the story and how the current civilization and state of the world came to be. I liked that the author didn't make parts of the society or characters one dimensional or think all the same. Each group has at least one individual who does not blindly follow everyone else. The roses are a surprising part of the story. They are quite manipulative and vindictive, but can seem serene and sweet. That was quite an interesting twist to me.

I liked the characters. Isra yearns for the wind outside the dome, for her family, to understand others, and specifically Gem after she meets him. She has been raised only to sacrifice herself for her people and that is what she believes she will do and do willingly when the time will come. She is compassionate, intelligent, and beautiful. Gem is also compassionate even though he is a warrior. He lies to Isra, but struggles with doing so. He is quite stubborn, but also fearless and smart. I also liked Bo. He is selfish, arrogant, and manipulating, but he still cares for Isra and even when he feels he has been betrayed he still seeks to protect her. He has an important role in this story and he plays it well. I think he would have eventually made a good king.

Overall, this was worth the read. If there would have been just a little less sexual content, it would have been a book I would keep for my shelves and to share. Having said that, I still really enjoyed reading it.

Content: Some innuendo, making out, and violence.

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Have you read this? Are you planning to? What do you think?

Please note that you must be at least 13 years old. This giveaway is open to US continental residents only. Sorry international followers. I will continue to have giveaways as I can for you too. Please ensure that you correctly enter your email (and check your junk mail folder if I'm not on your contact list) so that I have a way to contact you. You can read my giveaway policy on my policies page. Enter via the Rafflecopter below.

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