The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh | book review

This review is spoiler-free!

“When life becomes difficult. the only source of strength we have is love. Love of others, love of self, love of life in its entirety.”

Renee Ahdieh, The Beautiful

Title: The Beautiful
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Beautiful, #1
Published: Oct. 8, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Reader
Category: young adult
Genre: fantasy, paranormal, romance
Pages: 448
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)
Goodreads page

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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 Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien’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.

[ This synopsis was taken directly from Goodreads. ]

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Thoughts

I’ve been having a lot of trouble lately staying interested in any of the books I’m currently reading (a.k.a. I’ve been in a reading slump), but The Beautiful hooked me in from page one. I love that it’s a paranormal book set in the late 1800s New Orleans. There’s something so magical/spooky about New Orleans that I think the author captured beautifully.

I also love that Celine is unapologetic about who she is. I find that in a lot of YA vampire books the main female character tends to be written as a damsel in distress. In many YA fantasy books, the protagonist usually feels unbeatable. Celine is not like that. She does not cower in the face of a challenge, but she’s not all-powerful and invincible. She also has a healthy dose of fear and survival instincts. She’s basically the perfect blend of bravery and human that I think a lot of YA fantasy authors struggle to write.

While I enjoyed this book, the reason I didn’t give it a higher rating is because it left me feeling unsatisfied. I went in thinking I was getting a vampire story, when in reality I was getting a murder mystery that happens to have vampires in it (if that makes any sense). The fact that vampires existed in this world felt less like a plot point and more like a small detail. It felt like the characters just HAPPEN to be vampires, but it wasn’t super necessary to the story.

If you like the typical, cheesy YA vamp book, this is not going to satisfy you. If you’re not into that kind of stuff, this book is pretty fun. The only thing I’d recommend is don’t go in expecting to get a lot of vampy stuff like drinking blood and fangs. Just think of it like a paranormal murder mystery.

TL;DR

✅ exciting plot (good murder mystery)
✅ fun characters
➖ not really a “vampire story”
❌ left unsatisfied

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Conclusion

I give The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh 3.5 out of 5 stars!

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Do you like paranormal books?
What do you think of the new wave of YA vampire stories?
What are some of your favorite vampire/paranormal books?

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Stay awkward and amazing!

5 thoughts on “The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh | book review

  1. Mary Drover 04/28/2021 / 10:20 am

    This book was SO hyped as the new vampire book that I think a lot of people were left feeling like this after it, and that’s unfortunate because it was really good, but also just not a vampire book. The second one is a little more vampiric, but not by a lot, so while it was good, still wasn’t what I was hoping for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jessica 04/30/2021 / 2:30 pm

      I was kind of disappointed that there wasn’t more “vampy-ness” in this book, but the story overall was fantastic. It sucks that it’s being marketed as a vampire book, because I feel like I would’ve enjoyed it much more if I didn’t have that expectation going in.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sheri Dye 05/14/2021 / 1:22 am

    This review had me chuckling. ‘Vampy stuff’ I’ve been curious about this book but.. this is the first review I’ve seen done on it and, thank you, I am now way more interested.
    Wonderful job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jessica 05/15/2021 / 7:17 pm

      I hope you enjoy this book! It’s a fantastic story with fun characters 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sheri Dye 05/15/2021 / 11:23 pm

        Thank you! I hope so but.. I’m not too worried. 😊🤞

        Like

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