Title: Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe)
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Genre: Fairytale retelling
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
On the one hand, the writing was mesmerizing and atmosphere haunting. I was caught up in this book for hours on end.
On the other, Cruel Beauty has a lot of technical mistakes that nagged me quite a bit. The worldbuilding was confusing as heck, Nyx was annoyingly defiant (although I admit she did grow on me), and the ending was underwhelming.
Yet where I am completely torn is whether or not I should dismiss this book due to its clear faults, or rate it entirely on emotion - which encompasses anger to love to frustration and back again.
I both like and dislike how the relationship between Nyx and her sister was handled - to say the least, it was very unconventional. I appreciate how the author did not shy away from the more negative side, which you don't get very often in young adult fantasy, but I feel like the author left us hanging on their relationship.
Did I love Ignifex? No. But I found him intriguing and surprisingly well-developed. He is not a character I would have normally supported, but the amount of effort Hodge put into his characterization piqued my interest - admittedly against my will at first.
While I do understand that this is a fairytale retelling, I thought that Nyx, the protagonist, was far too dramatic and prone to overreacting. Like Ignifex, she was developed deeply, but she was not entirely likable or realistic. On the plus side, she was flawed and relatable and, overall, an unforgettable heroine.
Ugh. The romance, in my opinion, was not exactly "beautiful." As individuals, I liked both Nyx and Ignifex, but together? They weren't very compatible. I will admit that some parts were well done, but others bordered on sappy and angsty.
I'd consider this a light read despite its combined elements of dystopia, fantasy, and mythology. A very ambitious book, but it ended up lacking in some aspects and left me conflicted in others. Recommended to fans of The Winner's Curse who craved more emphasis on the romance.