by Anna-Marie McLemore
Published on October 3, 2017 by Feiwel & Friends
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Love grows such strange things.
For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.
The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.
I’m definitely one of the black sheep when it comes to Wild Beauty. Despite every attempt to love this book, I struggled to get through it.
This is one of those books where the prose is gorgeous. . . but it covered up flat characters. My biggest problem with Wild Beauty is that I couldn’t care less about the characters. They were beautifully created. I can’t speak to the bisexual rep in this book as I don’t identify as such so take the fact that I loved it with a grain of salt. There’s such a strong family theme as well which I don’t see often enough in YA so more points to you, Wild Beauty.
Yet I couldn’t tell you who my favorite character was. I couldn’t tell you which one I shipped with that one. I couldn’t tell you what I loved about them. Because I never connected with these characters. I never felt anything for them, became invested in them. I’ve said this with other books in the past and I’ll say it again with this one: if I can’t connect with the characters, I won’t enjoy the book. It’s who I am as a reader. And I couldn’t get behind these characters enough to care what happened to them.
To be fair, not that much really happened in this book. It just plods along with all the flowery description but little action until the end where there’s some attempt at making it a cohesive flowing story when there wasn’t much to go off of. I guess I never got the point of this book. I like a story that has an end goal. The heroine completes her quest. The prince takes down the empire. You know that there’s an end of some kind, a task to be completed. Perhaps it’s more a personal preference but I don’t like stories that are more. . . open.
With that, I want to fall into the book. I want to feel the magic. And I actually really liked the world of Wild Beauty — or at least what it could have been. The idea of this family of 5 women in each generation rooted to this home where they grow flowers, that just intrigues me. But while there’s this magic going on, I wasn’t grounded in the world. There was plenty of description but not enough detail, if that makes sense. It comes back to the writing style. Lots of flowery language but not necessarily substance.
When it comes down to it, this book bored me. I contemplated DNFing a few times because it just didn’t hold my attention. I need more action in a book BUT it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend this book. If you don’t need as much action and are looking for a book with rich family themes and an amazing diverse cast of characters, then I think you’ll really enjoy this book. For me, it just wasn’t what I was expecting and I ended up being disappointed.