Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty 
by Rosamund Hodge

Summary: Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
Almost everyone else seems to love this book (including Julie, and you can read her review here), but something about it--or a lot of somethings about it really--just didn't work for me.

I really didn't like the first half of the book. The second half was better, but still didn't do much for me (I did like the very end of the book though). The pacing was kind of off. A lot of the story felt really repetetive and the monotony didn't break until maybe the last quarter of the book.

Basically, I was bored through quite a lot of the story, and that was probably my main issue.

One of the worst things was that this is one of those stories that has a twist that the reader figures out easily within a few chapters and then we have to put up with the main character being oblivious to something that should be blatantly obvious (or at the very least something she considers) for the majority of the book, which is pretty dull to read about and when it's not dull, it's just frustrating.

The world: it was creative, there's no denying that, I just didn't like it. Sometimes when I'm reading a story and it's good, I'll get so caught up in the world that it becomes this real, vivid place in my mind without me even trying but this one was just a mess of details in my head that I had to force myself to put together and form some sort of picture. I don't know if it was the way it was written or the world itself, I just didn't enjoy much of the world at all.

The writing: again, it wasn't bad. It was actually quite lovely and there was some really nice quotes in there, but I think my issue with this links into the world thing--there was a lot of description of the settings, the history of their world, all that sort of stuff and I felt thoroughly bored through most of those parts and as nice as the writing was, it wasn't enough to make me interested.

The characters: I didn't really like any of them, at least not consistently. There were brief moments (very brief) when I liked Ignifex and Nyx, but I was mostly indifferent to the former and annoyed by the latter.

Nyx was just a really irritating narrator to me. Her feelings may be understandable but that didn't mean it was entertaining reading page after page of her flip-flopping emotions. I get why she'd feel the way she does, but it didn't make it any less annoying to read.

Another annoyance was the fact that she kept describing herself as a cruel/bad person and Ignifex even says it too and it's something consistent throughout the book...which wouldn't bother me, except it felt very tell instead of show.

Nothing she does or says made her seem cruel or like a bad person. The things we're probably supposed to think of as making her cruel really just made her seem human and she always seemed more good than bad (being annoyingly contrary aside). I'm fine with morally ambiguous characters, I just didn't think Nyx was one even though it seemed like she was supposed to be?

The romance: Didn't love it, didn't hate it, it didn't make me feel much of anything really (except dislike for the attempt at a love triangle). I wasn't convinced they actually loved each other until the last chapter or two, but even then...no. Plus, it's kind of hard to feel emotionally invested in the romance when you don't give a damn about the characters.

I hate how negative this review is, because the book is not awful and I didn't hate it, and I do understand why other people would love it. Maybe my high expectations for the book played a part in my overall opinion, I don't know.

I still recommend reading it if it sounds like something you'd like, because you'll probably be in the majority that loves it, but don't let the hype give you sky high expectations. That way maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised instead of disappointed like I was.

I'd rate the book 2.5 out of 5 stars. But I do want to read whatever the author writes next, because I think it might just be this book I have an issue with and there were definitely elements of this book and her writing that I could love in a different story.


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