REVIEW: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Synopsis

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.

Review

Too much repetition and too many metaphors and similes. I felt like I was suffocating under the weight of so many flowers.

I will be the first to admit that I picked this up because of it’s BEAUTIFUL cover. I mean, just looking at the book on my shelf fills me with the warm fuzzies. I also really appreciated the LGBTQ+ representation and normalization that took place in the story as well. It’s not often that you read an LGBTQ+ book that isn’t all about identity, but rather presents bisexual, cross dressing, and gay characters as regular people existing within this magical plot. As well, there is representation of different races which I thought was pretty well done in the story. I also really appreciated the overall allegory of the story which (roughly speaking to avoid spoilers) is about the harmful effects of covering up dark histories and the need to be truthful and transparent.

Unfortunately, my love for the book pretty much ends there. I’ll elaborate…

One of my biggest issues with this book is the narration. There is an unnecessarily excessive amount of flowery language (literally), which I found made reading tedious as I was tempted to skim past all of the flowers to try and get back to the actual plot. It’s clear that the author was trying to evoke vivid imagery of an enchanted garden by using beautiful prose, but the actual results of this attempt fell way off base.

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As well, by using so much flowery language, the book was often very repetitive. I mean, it was just exhausting to hear about blue starflowers on the ceiling…for the twentieth time. This repetitiveness even extended beyond the flowers and into the world building as well. The narrator (rightfully) explains things at the beginning of the story, such as how each girl has to stay in La Pradera or else land will kill them. Good. But then the narrator continues to re-explain this fact, will a full length explanation, several more times throughout the story. This repetition occurs with several facts about the world. It makes it seem like the author has a poor memory can couldn’t remember if she explained something already, so she keeps re-explaining it just to be sure. It was so unnecessary and made the book drag.

With the aforementioned repetition, it didn’t help that the narration also tended to flow in a repetitive manner. For example:

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^^ Here the narration follows the repetitive pattern: “Estrella had…Azalea had…Calla had…Dalia in…Gloria in…”.

This would be completely fine on its own, but unfortunately the author uses this form of narration excessively; and when combined with the repetitive explanations and descriptions, I found myself fighting to not skim through the whole book.

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So much of the writing is just unnecessary, making the book tedious to read. I think it would have worked much better as a short story, because it could stand for some serious trimming.

The plot itself seemed to get buried under the repetitive narration to the point where it often felt like the story was at a standstill and no progression was being made in the plot. At other times I almost forgot exactly what the plot actually was — there were just too many flowers covering everything up! I also found the actual plot to be a little on the bland side. I would describe the plot as “forbidden romance with some lightly magical mystery”, which, to be honest, sounds more exciting than it actually was.

Overall, I didn’t thoroughly enjoy any of it, but I could at least appreciate some of the intentions.

Rating

1.5/5 Stars

๐ŸŒ•๐ŸŒ—๐ŸŒ‘๐ŸŒ‘๐ŸŒ‘

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