Monday, November 18, 2019

Review: The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

Title: The Beautiful
Series: The Beautiful #1
Written by: Renee Ahdieh
Published: October 8, 2019 by G.P. Putnam Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

I really enjoy Renee Ahdieh's writing so when I heard she was coming out with a book about vampires set in New Orleans I was so excited to read it. And then I was even more excited to get a copy at ALA in June. And while the writing was beautiful and the concept is fantastic but it didn’t quite deliver on what I was hoping for.

One thing that I did like about this book is Renee’s writing. I have red all her books and she is an incredibly descriptive writer. Everything really comes to life in her books. In this case she is taking New Orleans in the 1870’s and adding supernatural elements. I remember going to New Orleans and hearing all the stories about ghosts, vampires, and witches so it made for the perfect setting for a book like this. And while I don’t know that there was a real feeling of time and place, I do feel like the setting was lush and engaging.

However, the plot was a little lacking for me. There really could have been a fantastic murder mystery to this book but it just didn’t deliver on that. I felt like the main character wasn’t really trying to figure out who was responsible for what happened. She was just sort of on the periphery of what was going on. I wish she had been much more involved in everything. When it comes down to it, this just felt like a serious case of first book syndrome when it came to the plot.

I think my biggest issue is that I am realizing how hard I am to please when it comes to books about vampires. To be honestX I really cannot handle the dramatic irony involved in most of the stories that involves vampires. I know there are vampires, and the characters do not so they look obtuse and it gets in the way of me liking them and the book.

And as far as the characters go, I think think they other thing that I didn’t love was the romance. This really felt like a throwback to an mid-2000’s YA with the romance. Not only did we have a love triangle but it was with two guys who were former best friends turned rivals who are obsessed with this girl after first meeting her. See what I mean about it all being a throwback? It just felt so trope-y and that really is not my thing. If it played with and attempted to subvert the tropes I would be here for it but it bought into them too much for my taste.

On the whole, I didn't enjoy The Beautiful as much as I was expecting. I know a ton of people loved this book, it just wasn’t for me. I wanted more from the plot and less from the romance. I think I am just the black sheep here.

I give The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh 7.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you are a fan of supernatural romances and are looking for something with a throwback YA vibe then check this out. But if you want a dark and gothic adventure and mystery, look elsewhere.

Have you read The Beautiful? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!