Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama [ARC REVIEW]

Monstrous Beauty
by Elizabeth Fama
Summary from Goodreads:

"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 unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one 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 connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
"

Rating:
If you’ve been on the YA bandwagon for quite a while, mermaid tales have become the new vampire hype… or something like that. Having thought so, you probably also think you’ve already seen everything. But lo and behold, Monstrous Beauty comes into picture!

Monstrous Beauty alternates between past and present events in a small town in Massachusetts, shifting from multiple points-of-view (I think about four or so? Sorry, I lost count), but mostly on Syrenka and Helen’s.

This book takes us back into 1872, where we meet Syrenka, an alluring mermaid, who falls in love with a human named Ezra. Welcoming the chance of happiness on land with this man, she makes a terrible decision that she has yet to find out the consequences. More than a hundred years later, we are introduced to Helen, a girl who first swore not to love at all and live the rest of her life alone, afraid that she too will end up the way the rest of the women in her family did before her; which is they die after giving birth. Is it a genetic defect? But science cannot seem to explain the cause of the deaths, so Helen turns to another theory, might it be a curse? As Helen investigates her family’s history, things just get more eerie by the minute…

I think this book is more focused on the plot rather than the characters because although I didn’t hate them, they didn’t come out as likeable as I would have wanted from fictional people. They were okay to the point that you can just read through the book but it didn’t give me much to think about them other than what’s already stated. The only character I found to be fascinating was Syrenka, obviously the star of the book. And a little further in second comes the sea Queen; her features just terrified me so yeah she’s definitely memorable.

I’m still puzzled by the part before Syrenka earned her human form though. How the heck did Olaf actually do it??? I mean she’s a mermaid and all… no legs… where??? I need a little more visualization here…wait a minute… actually, no. Never mind. Wow… awkward. Forget I said anything. *Whispers* Psst! But if you’ve read this book and you do know what I’m talking about, give me some details on how it occurred, okay? Teehee!

I didn’t expect this book to be this good. I was wowed by how the author weaved together the events of the past to the present into such a riveting story with twists of romance and mystery. It is a bit darker, not to mention a bit more on the mature side of mermaid tales, but very good nonetheless.

*Thank you, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and NetGalley for the copy of Monstrous Beauty.

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