The Beautiful Ones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia: A Review
I'm a big fan of Moreno-Garcia's writing; I'm not picky about which genre--if she writes it, odds are, I'll read it. So when I saw this beautiful cover, I couldn't wait to get started.
Years ago, telekinetic street performer Hector Auvray fell in love with a girl above his station. He returns to Loisail in hopes of reconnecting, only to meet Nina, the telekinetic cousin of his first love. Torn between holding onto his old love and his fascination with her cousin, Hector strikes up a friendship with Nina, a choice that threatens to tear more than one life apart. I really enjoyed this book. Before I jump in, I think it's worth noting that The Beautiful Ones is very different from Mexican Gothic, so some readers might be surprised at the genre shift. I've been arguing about the merit of genre literature since college, and The Beautiful Ones is a case and point that writing does not have to be lit fic in order to be taken seriously. Here, the narrative voice is perfection. Moreno-Garcia nailed the diction, the atmosphere, the banter. The reading was seamless and effortless and utterly visual. From the minute details to the overarching themes, TBO is a well-built fantasy world reminiscent of the Victorian Era. At times, I felt like I was reading an Oscar Wilde. Satirical elements of social commentary dominated the prose: Nina, the naive, unpolished country girl who's more interested in beetles than husbands, and Valerie, a beautiful city woman consumed with her need to preserve her reputation and wealth. The country is portrayed as inferior to the city, a marker of Wilde's satire, and overlapping with some Shakespearean elements of comedic reprieve. We get word play, mistaken identities, various love triangles, and plenty of unrequited longing. The opening scene screamed of Romeo and Juliet to me, where Romeo is broken-hearted over Rosaline before meeting Juliet. I loved this so much, the classic nods and structure to some of the greatest canonical authors while feeling authentic to its own story. The telekinesis was an interesting angle, and if I wished for anything, it was for that to play a bigger part than it did. I kept expecting it to escalate, but overall, Nina's talent felt more like it could stand for any trait that would ostracize her from the rest of society. I understand the symbolic nature of the storytelling, and I think it was a clever character choice, but I would've loved to see a little more Firestarter thrown in there. Overall, The Beautiful Ones is a smart, witty read with classic themes and a beautiful narrative flow. I'd recommend to fans of period dramas, soft love triangles, and atmospheric love stories. Thank you to Macmillan Tor/Forge and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.