Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore.
Published by Feiwel and Friends on October 3rd, 2017.
Genre: Magical Realism.
My Format and Page Count: Hardcover// 335 Pages.
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.
“Of course he would think the whole glittering universe existed to spin anything he wanted out of stardust. He was a man, and a rich one, and these together made him believe the planets and moons orbited around the single point of his desires.”
This book is the epitome of a slow-burner. The writing is very lyrical and “flowery”, reading beautifully. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book. This is completely based on opinion, so don’t let this review dissuade you from picking this novel up. I went into this excited, the concept being one that seemed very original. Unfortunately, I am the type of reader who enjoys fast-paced novels, so I was bored throughout this. The story is not for everyone, so if you are like me then this probably isn’t the book for you.
The Family- I love books that follow the dynamic of a family. In Wild Beauty we meet the Nomeolvide women. A family of 15 girls that spans 3 generations. The main focus of this book is the family dynamic, and how each of these girls can grow a specific type of flower depending on their name. The family was my favorite part of this novel. They argued and didn’t agree on everything, but they still loved each other. Although they had powers, this felt like a real family.
The Characters- Anna-Marie did an amazing job at creating 15 very different characters. Some others would have made the 5 main girls similar, each taking form of some cookie-cutter trope, but Anna created characters full of depth, each having a personality of their own. Estrella was naive, strong. Calla was the youngest, but she was one of the smartest. Azealia was flirty and fun, but also had a bite. You get the point.
The Premise- What really drew me to this book (Other than the cover), was the interesting plot. A family of girls who can grow flowers with only their hands, the cost being the one they love? I was sold. The execution just wasn’t up to par.
The Diversity: I really enjoyed the diversity that went into this book. The Nomeolvide women are of color, and many of them are not straight. Fel’s brother is also gay. My favorite part about this is how nonchalant it was. It was not an issue for the reason’s society says it is now.
The Writing- Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing is absolutely beautiful. It is a style that most people would enjoy, but it causes the story to come off as slow, which is something I do not enjoy. The reason it is here is because I really do like the lyrical way she tells her story, but it also hinders the pacing.
The Relationship: I really wanted to like this relationship, but I didn’t. I am talking about the main relationship. The reasons I didn’t like it is because it felt forced, and it just wasn’t very practical. I will go more into this in the spoiler section.
The Pacing: This was definitely my least favorite part of the novel, and unfortunately it is one of the most crucial. This book was too damn slow for me, and I know that a lot of people enjoy slow-burners, but I am not one. There was a part in the middle that actually had my full attention, but before and after that 50 page stretch I was very disinterested. This book just did not do it for me.
The Execution: The premise of this book was so interesting, but the execution fell flat. The pacing made this very boring, and it just wasn’t done greatly in general. This is completely my opinion and I am pretty sure I am in the minority, so definitely check this book out and form your own!
Everything below will spoil major plot details, so please read at your own risk.
- All the Girls Love Bay: It was definitely very interesting to read about these cousins who were all in love with the same person. Not only that, but the person was a girl. This racked lots of points for me, and I believe the right move was made when Dalia ended up with Bay.
- Estrella and Fel: This relationship felt so forced. Right when Estrella found him in the garden you knew what was going to happen, and it seemed as if her finding him meant she HAD to be the one to fall in love with him. I do think it was a cute sub-plot, but it felt too forced.
- Damn Briars!: It is revealed near the end that the Briar family covered up a mining incident that killed hundreds of men. Not only this, but it was also revealed that they send the disappointing members of the family to the land hoping it will devour them, similarly to what it does to the Nomeolvides lovers.
- Reid: I actually didn’t hate Reid until his intentions were shown. I thought that they were quick to judge, but then they were proven right. Reid fled the land at the end, probably being the best option for him.
- The Ending: Although I did enjoy the ending, it was not practical. All of the lost lovers and men who died in the mining accident were uncovered and miraculously came back to life. It definitely gave us a happy ending I enjoyed, even if it didn’t make much sense.
*Spoiler Sections Ends*
Overall, Wild Beauty fell flat for me. The beautiful writing wasn’t enough to carry it’s poor pacing, and that is the biggest influence on my opinion.
My Rating: 2/5 Stars.
Would I Recommend?
– Although I didn’t like this novel, I feel my reasons were solely opinion based. That being said, I would recommend everyone read this novel and develop their own opinion.
I hope this review gave you some insight on the novel! What were your thoughts on Wild Beauty?