I did it. I just went back into Goodreads and demoted Cruel Beauty by one whole star.
Eh, one star, you might think. I’m here to tell you that it’s not just the difference between a four and a five rating. That’s a walk in the park. That’s like having a great time at a party and having your only complaint be that it went by too fast. Cruel Beauty dropped down to a two. That’s right, the dreaded, barely better than awful, two-star rating where I bang my head on the keyboard over all the trauma this book has put me through.
Hyperbolic and melodramatic? Absolutely. But I’m not exaggerating when I say, for me, the personification of this book is a woman in an emerald green, floor-length gown who’s clutching a chalice filled to the brim with red wine. She’s sloshed and spilling the wine on anyone who comes close enough to hear her, and she’s still vilifying the cretin that stepped on her Louboutins more than an hour ago.
If this sounds like you, I’m sorry. You are the very definition of melodramatic.
Why did I give this mercy and originally rate it as okay? Well, you see, it was an audiobook. My very first audiobook experience. A lot of my qualms, though certainly not all, I thought were perhaps because of the format and presentation style. Here’s a few examples.
I realized I remembered.
I began to cringe at every uttered I realized or I remembered. I wish I could word count those phrases, I’d say at least one is on every page of the book. [Nyx, you know you don't have to tell us specifically that you realized every time you have a revelation, right? You can actually just say what you just figured out!] But not having the book in front of me, I began to wonder if it was just something that stuck out and my brain was being overly sensitive. Kind of similar to when you repeat the same word over and over again until it becomes nonsensical. I was having hysteria in my car over Nyx’s ability to decipher some very basic cause/effect scenarios and to recall useless conversations she had like three hours ago. And, not to beat this into the ground, but placing phrases like I realized or I remembered in your sentence structure somehow implies that it is something important or worth noting is going to follow.
That kiss was a kiss that makes kisses kiss.
What was the focus on the kissing? It was soooo over-the-top, and magical. Wait, you met this shadow-thing that doesn’t speak, like earlier today and you are making out with it? And now you are kissing the guy that entrapped you/forced you into marriage. Which is inconvenient, since you just sworn to loathe him for all eternity. But bam, there you are remembering the kisses and realizing you liked the kisses and realizing that means you like both, and now I have a headache. It may have been because the narrator was raising her pitch and excitement levels every time the word kiss was mentioned.
Call it resentful beauty.
This is another instance of word usage. Cruel is thrown around a lot, by Nyx about herself, her family, the demon lord, everything. Cruelty is not feeling guilty after yelling at your sister and making her cry. Cruelty would be yelling at your sister and then enjoying her tears, collecting them in a little bottle and carrying it on a chain around your neck. Ah wait, that crossed over into creepy territory quickly. I don’t think Nyx is cruel at all. She resents her family, she thinks unkind thoughts sometimes, but she also claims to love the shadow-thingie and the demon lord. I don’t believe that a truly cruel person has capacity to love or feel guilt. Those emotions indicate you, at some level, have the ability to empathize. Listening to a character wax on an on about how cruel she is became tedious. Maybe reading it in print would be different, more vicious.
The demon lord sounds completely ludicrous.
Perhaps you could chalk it up to a woman narrating a man’s part, but the demon lord sounded comical. I pictured an ostrich wearing a suit and top hat, with a monocle. Or sometimes the Cheshire cat, with his head tilted back, staring up at Nyx with a huge creepy smile. These mental pictures totally discredit this character as demon-like. He was a stunted man-child, and I’m not sure why that is supposed to be attractive?
Upon finishing the book I gave it a three. I kept listening, didn’t I? I wanted to know the end, that is worth something, right? These things may not have been so annoying if I was reading, making up the voices and stressing words differently. Right? With some time and further reflection, I don’t think reading it in print would have really made any difference in my enjoyment. Therefore, I scaled back on my forgiveness, and called it like it really was: a big ol’ two-star book.
Most of the above annoyances I outlined related to the actual words themselves. Sure, the narrator may have emphasized something once in a way I did not like, and then I kept jumping to it. But, My critical, cranky brain does that with the written word too, so that’s moot. I also started Code Name Verity in an audio format, and so far it is really enjoyable. Proving that I’m not format biased and just have an audio-book grudge.
Would I read it again: That would fall under cruel and unusual punishment
Do you think you might rate books differently based on the format? Even besides audio vs text, maybe ebook vs hardback? Also, side-thought not fully related, can you really say you “read” the book if it was an audio version? You listened to the book, not read it. Does that count as reading?
Super side-note. Did you catch the P&P reference in there? :D
Editor’s note: For a bit there, Nyx was improperly spelled Nix. Sorry for being too literal.