Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Release Date: 4th September, 2012

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pages: 295pgs

The Story

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is aware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost on hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse?

With Ezra's help, Hester investigates her family's strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean - but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connections to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

The Review

A big thanks to the publisher on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!

MONSTROUS BEAUTY is a very dark and seductive read filled with a very heart-wrenching prose and a fantastic set of woven fantasy elements that I'm sure will please a lot of its readers. While I haven't read too many books based on the mermaid mythology (though I should definitely start to read more of them) however this story was still a pleasure to read and the author did such an amazing job in alluring her readers into a mystery with just the right amount of deep hidden secrets, an intriguing set of characters, and of course, delivered a thought-provoking tale unlike any other mermaid tale I've read so far. So that is its good points and now onto the bad points . . .

I won't lie to you here - this book was very hard to get into. At least towards the beginning of the novel. With so much going on, from ghosts to family curses to the mermaids themselves, I sometimes had trouble in keeping record of what was exactly happening and what was going to happen which I believe is the book's weakest point in my mind and it was probably the main reason why I'm giving this book a lower star rating than I originally planned to. For such an amazing-sounding concept, it was unfortunate that the writing dragged a little too often and I often found myself confused now and again. Not the mention the ending was quite disappointing and sad as well, however I do understand why the author chose to write this particular ending of hers because everything has their consequences.

But despite those elements I've mentioned, when it comes down to it I really enjoyed the way Elizabeth Fama incorporated a love story with a bit tragedy and a non-typical mermaid tale that we see get a happy ending. It's a rare thing to find in young adult books because when I think about mermaid stories I think of the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, so I'm glad this author chose to end her novel with something like the sad and original Little Mermaid storyline. For those who know of the original mermaid tale, you will know what I mean. Anyway, I also even loved the way Fama wrote about her main character's desperation, that being Syrenka, and the heart-breaking love she shared between her and a boy named Ezra . . . even the consequences of blindness revenge and the loneliness of immortality that affected Syrenka's character . . . it was all very well written and will strike a cord with anyone who reads this book.

Overall, while readers are left with some unanswered questions and perhaps an unsatisfying ending (it was a little unexpected for me), I thought MONSTROUS BEAUTY was still a fantastic novel and I'm looking forward to seeing more from this author. With action-packed adventures, love and heart-break, and cunning villains with strong and awe-inspiring heroines and their heroes to lead the way of this adventure, readers will definitely not be disappointed with this novel that Fama has managed to woven together!

The Rating

3 1/2 / 5 stars

22 comments:

  1. Sounds like it may be a good read. I am a little weary of mermaid tales. I always seem to put them into cartoons in my head, which is never a good thing. I have been looking for a book that can break me of that.

    Beth ^_^
    http://sweetbooksnstuff.blogspot.com/

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    1. It is definitely a good once read for me.

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  2. I've been trying to get into the mermaid tales as well and this one I received from netgalley as an advanced read too. The cover is definitely what drew me in, reading your review of the story I now know what to expect and prepare myself as I try to enter the novel. Thank you for the review, glad you enjoyed the book C:

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    1. The cover also drew me in too. Very beautiful.

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  3. I think I've only read one mermaid book (out of many!) before that I absolutely loved, so I wasn't so sure about whether or not I was going to pick up this one... but now I'm thinking that maybe I should! x) Even though I find that books with hard-to-get-into-beginnings might loose me, I now have hope that it gets better later on! :)

    Awesome review, Erin! And I'm glad that this has that bittersweet ending -- we really don't get enough of those in YA! ;)

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    1. It definitely gets better as the book moves on. So I recommend giving this one a go!

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  4. Great review! I've nomiated you for The Versatile Blogger Award! You can check out the post on my blog:
    http://queenofteenfiction.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/ive-won-versatile-blogger-award.html

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    1. Thank you so much! And thanks for stopping by!

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  5. It's always frustrating when books are hard to get into. That's one of my main complaints about "first books." But oftentimes patience pays off.

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    1. The patience does pay off for this book . . . eventually.

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  6. I haven't read very many mermaid books either, but I've always been interested in the mythology! I saw this one on NetGalley the other day and was wondering if anyone had read it yet, so it was nice to get your thoughts!

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    1. I couldn't help myself when I requested this book from NetGalley. I haven't read too many reviews for this one but for me it was a good once read.

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  7. Shame to hear some parts made you take off a couple of stars, but overall, SO happy to hear this is worth the read! I am pumped to jump on the mermaid bandwagon this year. It's kinda sad it's taken me this long to read one, actually.

    Cunning villains? Hidden secrets? Love story with tragedy? (my favourite!!). Yes definitley need to get my greedy paws on this. Awesome review! :D

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    1. Lately they've been a lot of great mermaid books coming out. So I really need to start reading more of them! Thanks Brodie!

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  8. Maybe this is a mermaid book I should check out, I've read two others from different authors but they just weren't something I enjoyed - this on the other hand sounds quite beautiful

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    1. It is beautiful in its own way. I would really recommend it.

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  9. Ahhh a nice honest review, that's why I like reading your reviews. Hmmm, I do have this to read, I shall give it a go. Sounds intriguing .....I'm currently reading BDB Lover Reborn...OMG!! is this a smashing good book...yowzer!! and humma, humma add some blush moments and we are right on target:D

    P.s. The book is a brick, thick, heavy and small writing....lots of happy times for MIchelle:D

    MIchelle

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    1. Thanks! Oh I've heard about that book you're reading at the moment . . . a lot of people have been raving about that series.

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  10. Oooooh nooooo...
    OK, I'm initimately familiar with the original Hans Christien Andersen Little Mermaid. I was OBSESSED as a kid. I was like, TOTALLY going to be a mermaid when I grew up (hey, I was SEVEN)...

    I always liked the Disney version better O___O

    Hmmm... so... as much as I LOVE Disney endings and happily ever afters... this actually makes me even more intrigued. I'm... trepidatious, but also excited. Fabulous review as always :)

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    1. I always liked the disney version better because the original was so sad . . . I'm still tormented over it. Childhood scars. haha.

      If you come around to the book, hope you enjoy it. Despite some 'little' things it was a great read.

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  11. Great review Erin!

    I have an ARC of this, but it sounds so complicated, I didn't want to start it. Eventually I will give it a shot. Glad to know that it gets better :)

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  12. NO. I can't live with an ending like what you're sort of describing. I'll die. My heart will plummet and break in my chest and I'll be gaping and empty. This is not what I expected. BUT since I'm a character girl AND grotesquely optimistic, I'm going to read this book anyway.

    Asher

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