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jenryland

Of Beast and Beauty - Stacey Jay I think my favorite aspect of the retelling was the fact that this book wasn't afraid to take some real liberties with the storyline. This did not come as a surprise to me, as the premise of Stacey Jay's Juliet Immortal (and the companion book, Romeo Redeemed) was that Romeo and Juliet had become mortal enemies. In Of Beast and Beauty, a centuries-old bargain made between a dark force and the colonists of the city of Yuan ensures that the domed city would remain prosperous as long as a human sacrifice was offered regularly.Princess Isra, like her mother before her, is that human sacrifice. Blind since the terrible day her mother died, Isra lives a sheltered life inside the palace. But when a group of "Monstrous" from the desolate desert outside the dome are caught inside it and accused of a terrible crime, Isra's world changes dramatically. She takes an interest in Gem, the young Desert Boy left by his group and imprisoned in the palace. As they spend more time together, each learns about the world of the other. As they begin to fall in love, they will threaten the status quo and threaten to expose some of the lies that have kept their people locked in mortal enmity.Another thing I enjoyed about Of Beast and Beauty was the way it took many thematic elements of the original story and really looked at them. The concept of beauty (or ugliness) isn't just taken at face value here, but really examined from different directions. The Desert People outside the dome have evolved to be scaly as a protection agains the heat, an adaptation that makes the "Smooth Skins" within the dome think of them as monsters. Isra, who has rough skin herself, has always felt that she's unattractive. I also liked the addition of the political intrigue -- there's a lot of plotting and scheming going on here -- and the way the Smooth Skins and the Desert people hate and mistrust each other.That brings me to the romance. Isra has been raised to be afraid of the people outside the Dome, and Gem has been raised to think that the Smooth Skins within it are evil. While I really liked this element of the story, at first it felt to me that this unlikely couple fell in love a little fast. To be fair, the book did compress time a little, jumping ahead from one season to the next. But still, I felt slightly cheated. Hate-to-love can be one of the most interesting romantic relationships to read about, and I thought that the time compression prevented the reader from seeing the full evolution of the romantic relationship.Of Beast and Beauty also has a third POV character, Bo. He is the son of the king's closest advisor and has been hand-picked as a husband for Isra. At first I was a little worried about this leading to the dreaded love triangle, but in the end, I thought Bo was a great addition to the story and also a very well-developed character.Read the full review and more YA reviews on my blogJen @ YA Romantics