by: Rita Stradling
Release Date: December 2017
Genre: Sci-fi, New Adult, fairytale-retellings
Rating: 4 stars
**Disclaimer** I received an ARC copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The views and opinions that I have expressed here are solely my own and are in no way a representation of the views and/or opinions of the author, publisher, and/or distributor.
A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.
Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.
To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.
Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.
Most fairytale retellings are set in the historical past, mostly to go along with the original fairytale, but Stradling had different ideas; it was refreshing to see a different spin on one of my most beloved fairytales. I was hooked from the very first line in the blurb. Honestly, there are only a few aspects that Stradling took from Beauty and the Beast. The rest of the story was purely original and innovative, with its own storyline, turns, and plot twists. Some differences, other than the book’s setting and the fact that it involves AI and furturitic technology, is that there are no talking animals, dishes, household appliances, or wardrobes. Alainn also isn’t a prisioner so the Stockholm Syndrome conspiracy isn’t there, which is nice when you think about it.
The characters themselves and their personalities were believeable. Alainn is determined to keep her father out of prision to the point of willingly pretending to be a robot in a strange man’s home. I respected her for her fierceness and love of family (I guess that’s where she’s a lot like Belle and probably why I loved her so much). Mr. Garbhan, the book’s main male character, is physically flawed to the point where he hides himself from Alainn, even though he believes her to be a robot. Growing up he never left his home so he was never around people much and that has seemed to have shaped his people-skills (or lack thereof). This is how his character relates to the beast. He is surrounded in mystery and it kept me wanting to know more.
The romance between Alainn and Mr. Garbhan is slowly built, which I appreciated tremendously; It made the storyline more believable, but once it got started Stradling did not disappoint. She gave readers enough to feel their chemistry, but not so much as to turn this book into pure erotica. Readers never forget the genuine fondness between the characters, even in the heat of their passion.
“Love didn’t seem like something that could be organized or contained; it should be messy and emotional, like exploding and imploding with someone at the exact same time.”
Overall, I loved this book. It combined my all-time favorite fairytale with a new and highly innovative framework. The only aspect of the story I would change or bring out more is the backstory of the AI. How did they find a place in society? Why were they evolving? In a world that still had our modern-tv conviences (cars, televisions, etc.) why did this particular society want robots? I don’t want to give too much away but asking these questions so I’ll stop their, but it seemed like Stradling just took the main plot from other AI movies, books, etc. and used it here….kind of as a foundation. (Robots turned evil because they feel superior to us..that plot). This is all my opinion of course and it worked well to answer my underlying questions about Stradling’s furturistic society.
**note** the quote used in this review came from an ARC copy on Netgalley. It is subject to change and may/may not be in the final published copy of book.