Book Review: Beautiful Curse by Jen McConnel

Summary (as seen on Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Mya Jones is cursed. 

She is, hands down, the most beautiful creature on earth. But beauty can wound, and Mya finds herself reviled and shunned by her peers. If there is even a chance that she could start over, Mya longs to take it, no matter the risks. 

So when the strange Mr. Merk offers her a new life away from home, Mya is hesitant but hopeful. Only she didn't count on the mysterious Ross, or her feelings for him. 

BEAUTIFUL CURSE is a contemporary retelling of the myth of Psyche and Cupid.

I had never heard of the myth of Cupid and Psyche prior to this, so I appreciated how this novel introduced me to a different part of Greek mythology. The novel does start out a little slow, but the moment Mya turns around to see Ross's face, there was no putting the book down. After reading, I looked up Cupid and Psyche's story and was pleased to see how the author stayed true to the story but also made the storyline of the novel her own.

I did find it strange that there was no explanation for Mya's transformation the first time around. The reader is just told that it happens, and is expected to accept this fact. While this is partially because this is a story that involves fantasy, it is too much of a stretch to have this transformation happen and not explain its root cause.

It was also great to see how the work was put together as a cohesive whole. For example, having Ross show up as a red-headed boy earlier on and as the red-headed boy later on was a great addition to the story. The most enjoyable part of this story was how it makes readers think about beauty, its meaning, and whether it should be prized the way it currently is. For that, this novel definitely receives points.

However, I did find that the writing itself could have used some improvement. Most notably, there were passages where the only description of an event was "annoyed" or "frustrated". Instead, these descriptions could have been shown. Clenched fists, almost punching a wall, facial expressions, all these contribute to helping readers experience and visualize what is happening in the story. Descriptions of buildings were great, however. While it doesn't entirely make up for what I previously mentioned, at least it shows that the author knows how to show more than tell, and that she could learn to do so better in the future. It is also important to consider that what I read was a translation of the original text and that it may have contributed to the words that were chosen for the version I received.

Mya and Ross's romance is also not my favorite aspect of the story, in the beginning. Perhaps it's just me, but I disliked that he kissed her without asking first, even though she definitely liked him and wanted to kiss him. I disliked that she barely knew him and was infatuated with him, reminding me of some other YA novels where the same thing happens. It just doesn't feel very realistic. However, as time goes on and the two get to know each other better, especially after Mya turns around in an attempt to see his face, the plot and storyline improve significantly.

Finally, under normal circumstances I would consider the events of the novel to be unrealistic. However, through the lens of the myth retelling I find it more acceptable, and appreciate the overall story for it more as well.

This will receive three and a half stars, bumped up because of my appreciation of the Greek mythology aspect of it. Mostly, it gets a higher rating because it made me reconsider the idea of beauty, and that is what novels should do.

Please leave your thoughts below as well! I love discussing books.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review BEAUTIFUL CURSE! :)