2014 is not off to a great start for me as far as reading goes. This is the THIRD time I have been the black sheep and the month is not even over yet. Everbound/Evertrue, Being Sloane Jacobs, and now Cruel Beauty. I'm not sure what is going on, but I can't help liking what I like, and this book did not work for me on a multitude of levels. That's not to say it was bad, because it wasn't. I just feel it was overhyped and oversold, and I didn't get what I expected out of the reviews I read. I know expectations are totally my fault though and I take complete ownership of that.
So rather than write a long and drawn out review, I am just going to list things, because when it comes right down to it, I would rather just get my issues out and move on with my life. I don't have a lot to see either as this was just a very meh read for me.
Let's start with the good things:
1. It's a standalone AND it's a fantasy novel. That's incredibly rare and I do hope it STAYS that way and the publisher/author doesn't increase the number of books to try and attempt a moneygrab.
2. The world-building was interesting. It didn't always work for me but I totally have to give the author credit for weaving mythology, Beauty and the Beast, and managing to make something original and intriguing out of it.
3. The writing was pretty. I didn't much care for it but I can't deny the beauty of the prose. I will talk more about the rest in my dislikes.
That's about it, unfortunately. I told you it was a hot mess for me. Let me get into my criticisms now. Even though I don't wanna.
1. So back to the writing. Even though it was pretty, I found it lacked a lot of clarity. There were times I had NO IDEA what the hell was going on and I consider myself a pretty intelligent person. I just don't feel a lot of things were explained well. There was a lack of detail and so many vague explanations that didn't work for me. And the imagery was off too. I liked some of it, but I had a tough time mentally picturing some of the scenes. So, not good for me there.
2. I didn't connect to any of the characters. Not a single one. Not Ignifex, not Nyx, not Shade, nor any of the side characters. I Just found them flat and dull. The chemistry between Nyx and Shade and Ignifex didn't work for me at all, and yes, there is a love triangle. With a twist. I will admit the ending eked a few emotions out of me, but that was it. I give her points for that ending though. It was pretty brilliant and I think if I HAD been in love with this book, I would have been over the moon.
3. What is with the repetitiveness? The entire first half was slow and bogged down with a ton of the same thing over and over. It's just Nyx running from room to room looking for the hearts in the castle that she needs to stop the Gentle Lord from terrorizing the countryside. It sounds exciting, but for me it wasn't. The book took about 130 pages to really get going for me, and for YA I find that FAR too long.
4. Way too much focus on the romance. I knew there would be quite a bit of it, but I also was hoping for some really strong fantasy elements and mythology. It was too far on the romance end of the spectrum for me. This was basically a romance novel with fantasy elements. I prefer it the other way around.
Wrapping this up, I have to say that even though I am rating this three stars out of five, this is by far my most disappointing read of 2014 thus far, right behind Being Sloane Jacobs. Maybe my expectations are too high. I consider it a lesson and I will rein myself in in the future.