In book review

REVIEW: The Beautiful

Title: The Beautiful
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre(s):  Young Adult, Fantasy
Release: October 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭,5/5

"She was no lamb. 
She was a lion."

I am a simple mind. I hear "historical vampire YA," I read. The Beautiful was pitches as the "next Twilight" by many, and, while I'm not someone who 100% believes Twilight still holds up in the 2010s, I was very much intrigued by the premise of this book, and couldn't wait to read more of Ahdieh's works after loving The Wrath and the Dawn so much. 

The Beautiful takes place in historical New Orleans, and follows Celine who has fled Paris after committing a crime. Celine wants to find her new normal, but after arriving in NOLA, she soon discovers that normal might just not be her thing. Trying to solve a murder case, she gets caught up in a secret society that deals with the occult. 

What is this book about?
Celine's character was the most interesting to me. While I enjoyed Odette and Bastien, Celine has certain layers to her character that made a very entertaining reading experience. She's not simply black or white, which seems to be a current trend in YA, but her multifaceted personality added an interesting layer to her character.

What did I think of The Beautiful?
I also really enjoyed the setting, as expected. Historical YA is typically an automatic pull for me, and I will read anything that's set in the 19th/early 20th century. I really enjoyed the dark, gritty, and diverse society of 19th century NOLA, and the gloomy setting made for a perfect fall read. 

In addition, Ahdieh makes an interesting writing choice by including a third, mysterious POV. Aside from both Celine and her love-interest, we get the narrative of - the supposed - killer. I thought this added a very interesting dynamic to this book, something I hadn't seen in YA.

One thing I thought where this book went wrong (and something that could have prevented the divided opinions in regards to this book) is the marketing. I think, because a lot of people expected to find the "new Twilight" (which this was not) people went in with misconstrued expectations. 

Lastly, Adding talk of racism and oppression to historical YA is always something I really appreciate. When writing a genre like this, many authors tend to focus on the supposed 'magic' of the era, but neglect to mention how gross a lot of the historical circumstances were for minorities. Ahdieh, a Korean-American author herself, touches on Celine's experiences as a woman of Korean descent who's situated in 19th century Europe/America. By including this perspective, Ahdieh adds an extra layer to her book.

While this was pitched as Twilight, I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn't at all like it. Celine and Bastien were much more interesting than Bella and Edward, and I found that this book had really upped the stakes by the end of the story. The concept and the execution far surpassed my expectations, and I adored every addictive minute of this book.

What did you think of The Beautiful?

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