4 Star Reads, Book Review

The Beautiful – Renee Ahdieh

The Beautiful (The Beautiful, #1)

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Beautiful is the first in a new series by Renee Ahdieh. It is a story that takes place in 1872 New Orleans, a lush and vibrant city full of magic and denizens of the night. Although you might be hesitant when you read ‘vampires’, since they were so popular (and overdone) a decade ago – these beings don’t feel tired in the Beautiful. In fact, although violence and death are a big part of the plot the actual fact that there are vampires are not the most important part of the story. It is the story itself and Ahdieh’s characters that draw you in and won’t let go.

Celine is the female protagonist of this story and she is feisty. There are so many ways to describe her, but feminist and fiery are probably the most apt. She is prone to letting her anger and her pride get the better of her. She stands up for what she believes in and is willing to dive into danger to do what she feels is right. Celine is such a strong character, which could be off-putting for some readers (who find her brash or abrasive at times), but I ended up really liking her. I loved how she bucked traditional societal roles and forced people to accept her as she is.

Bastian is the male counterpart to Celine and while I liked him a lot, I also felt that the two of them were much too similar. They each had the same tempers that could get them in trouble and I wish their personalities felt less identical. Between Bastian and Michael, I found Bastian to be a more compelling character because he felt more three-dimensional and Michael felt one-dimensional. But they still created, what I felt was, an unnecessary love triangle element in the story. The romantic interest on Michael’s part seemed forced and I could not discern why he was interested in Celine.

The side characters were interesting, but none was particularly memorable. I wish that they had been given more character development so that I cared more as events transpired and the book became more violent. There was no real connection to them, so there was no real fear for their well-being. If that makes sense. It was the lush environment in which they found themselves that shone for the book. New Orleans was an interesting place to read about and the random scenes in gambling halls or of raucous parades highlighted Ahdieh’s ability to paint a picture.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and cannot wait to see where she takes us on this magical journey – although I hope that she is better able to find her stride in the next book in the series. The pacing wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, so at times I found myself enamored and racing through the pages while I drifted during others.

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