Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Of Beast and Beauty Read-Along: Week 3 Discussion Questions

Welcome to Week 3 of 
the Read-Along for the bestselling
YA novel, Of Beast and Beauty,
brought to you by
A Night's Dream of Books and
The Read-Along will run from 
April 1st to April 30th, 2014!!

Of Beast and Beauty
Hardcover, 400 pages
Delacorte Press, 
July 23, 2013
Dystopian Fiction, Fairy Tale Retellings, 
Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, 
Young Adult Fiction

Week 3 Discussion Questions
Chapters 14 - 20
A Night's Dream of Books
April 23rd

1.) Gem's people believe that dreams are messages from their ancestors.  What do you believe about dreams? 

I've done some reading on dreams, and I firmly believe they are the product of the unconscious mind, which simply reworks events from the dreamer's daily life.  However, the reworked events are presented in metaphors that need to be decoded.  A good psychologist can do this.  Dream interpretation books can be helpful, to some extent, but I do think that dream symbols are very personal, so looking up a symbol in a book might or might not do much good.

Then there are prophetic dreams.  I don't know how to explain those, except that they do happen.  They're even mentioned in the Bible.  I've never had one, though. 

2.) What do you think about Bo's accusations toward Isra, when she returns to the tower?

I think they are totally despicable, and show what a big jerk he is!  How could he possibly have accused her of sneaking out of the tower to "spread her legs" for other men?  After all, he knew very well that she had been confined to the tower all her life.  Why would she suddenly do such a thing?  But then, Bo is a product of his society, which obviously doesn't think much of its women.  Men are the ones in control, while women are relegated to either being political pawns, or nothing more than servants, or worse.

3.) How would you contrast the Smooth Skins' attitude toward their women, with the attitude of the Monstrous toward theirs?

Bo's accusations of Isra are typical of a society in which women are considered inferior to men.  In the city of Yuan, men have all the power.  Even the queens are nothing more than sacrificial material, instead of being true rulers.  Women in general don't have many choices open to them; they're married off against their will, for instance.  

The Monstrous society is totally different, which makes the name "Monstrous" completely ironic!  The leader of Gem's tribe is a woman.  Also, they have "trial marriages", in which a couple live together, to see how well they can get along before they actually get married.  While, as a Christian, I  disagree with this, I do like the fact that it's the woman who decides how long this trial is to go on.

Another aspect of Gem's society is that girls who reach the age of 17 have already had some sexual experience, and this is not frowned upon.  In fact, it's taken for granted that they will, which is why Gem is really surprised at Isra's own lack of such experience.  Again, this is against my Christian moral standards.  However, if women and girls are to be judged for not being virgins before marriage, then SO SHOULD MEN.  It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.  Bo has the FREAKING nerve to judge Isra on having supposedly "slept around", while HE has had many female lovers in Yuan.  Of course, men in this city take it for granted that they have every right to engage in such activities, while women do not.  If women dare to do the same things, then they are harshly judged.  

I find Gem to be so wonderful because he doesn't judge Isra, either way.  He's a total sweetheart!  In fact, although he is very protective of her, he never tries to control or dominate her.  He's comfortable with her taking the lead on more than one occasion.  Furthermore, on the way to falling in love with her, he comes to feel admiration for her, as both queen and person. 

It's very clear that the so-called "Monstrous" society is far superior to the Smooth Skin society of the city of Yuan!    

4.) What do you think about Isra's relationship with her nursemaid, Needle?

I think it's very sweet and poignant.  Needle has been everything to Isra -- substitute mother, sister, friend, and staunch ally.  What I really like about their relationship is that Isra never treats her like a servant.  She never talks down to her, nor does she think herself superior to Needle in any way, shape, or form.  On one occasion that Isra does lose her temper, and snaps at Needle, she immediately regrets it, and wastes no time apologizing to her.  I think this is so beautiful and touching!  This is something that real historical kings and queens have never done, to my knowledge.  Instead, they have treated servants as if they were trash.  Maybe I'm overgeneralizing here; there might have been some that haven't done this, but I've never heard of any. 

The whole concept of servant and master is entirely distasteful to me.  If I had a maid, for instance, I would treat her  like an equal, as Isra treats Needle.  Human beings are human beings.  This whole "blue blood" mentality is totally ridiculous!

5.) Were you surprised when Isra's sight suddenly returned?  Why or why not?

Well, I already knew, from reading the book synopsis, that it was coming back.  If that hadn't been the case, I would have never bothered with this novel; I don't like to read about blind characters.  It's just too sad..... I was surprised, though, at the rather dramatic way Isra's sight returned.  I was not expecting it to do so at that precise moment.  So it was a very pleasant surprise!

6.) Why do you think Isra's feelings about what her people think of her have changed?

Being with Gem in the desert has made Isra change.  Thanks to him, she has gained confidence in herself.  She has also seen that his people are not monsters at all.  So now she intends to rule, and could care less what the people think.  She also intends to put Junjie in his place!  Now she knows that she is fully capable of ruling, whether she's 'tainted' or not. 

7.) Why do you think Isra was so reluctant to see herself in the mirror? 

 When someone has been living with a mistaken belief for a very long time, it's very difficult for them to see the truth, whatever it might be.  For a very long time, Isra has believed that she's 'tainted', not perfect, according to the standards of Yuan.  She doesn't want to see the physical evidence of this in the mirror.  She thinks she's in for a terrible shock, even though she already believes herself to be physically imperfect.  
8.) Why is the covenant between the city of Yuan and the Dark Heart a binding one?

Because it was signed in blood, disgustingly enough.  Any covenant requiring this is totally evil, of course.
9.) How did the first covenant come to be signed?
Although all the noble families were safe under the dome of Yuan, their crops were failing, and their animals dying.  Then the reigning queen had a vision of how to resolve the situation.  She told the king, and the covenant was drafted.  Then all the people signed it, in blood, and the queen was sacrificed.   The results were immediate -- the crops and animals flourished again, and the city was saved.  

10.) After reading Chapter 20, what do you think of Junjie?

He's a totally evil person, thinking only of his own gain, and that of his family.  He's a perfect example of what Machiavelli advocated in his book, The Prince: the end justifies the means.  Junjie is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve what he wants.  Since he knows that his son, Bo, is a weakling who is easily manipulated, he intends to rule Yuan through him.  He wants Isra out of the way as soon as she marries Bo.  He will force her to sacrifice herself to the roses, supposedly to benefit the city.  But his real intention is to get rid of her; once Bo is king, she's not at all necessary to his plans.  Then he can get Bo to marry someone else, and have total control of the city.  Junjie doesn't even want his own son's happiness.  All he cares about is power, and nothing else.  

Post and Reading Schedule
for the Rest of the Read-Along

Week 4 Discussion Questions
Chapter 21 - "In the Beginning" (Epilogue)
Vonnie's Reading Corner
April 29th

Wrap-up & Reviews
A Night's Dream of Books
Vonnie's Reading Corner
 April 30th

Vonnie's Discussion Questions
for Week 4
1.) Who is really benefiting in the dome?  

2.) Why are the nobles the only ones spared from the majority of the mutations?

3.) Are the royal women really "mad"?

4.) Why are the men (the advisors) afraid of change?

5.) Why did the roses attack Isra?

6.) Why does Bo keep trying to protect Isra after the wedding even though he knows she has to die?

7.) What truths were revealed in Ana's diary?  

8.) How does Isra think she could destroy the Dark Heart?

9.) How does the spell get broken at the end?

10.) What are your thoughts on the "new skin" that everyone gets?

11.) Why do you think the book ends with "In the Beginning"?


Don't forget to visit Vonnie to see 
how she responded to this 
week's questions!
We hope you are all enjoying
this read-along!



  1. Wait...I commented here last night. What happened? Grr!!!

    1. Hey, Vonnie!

      OMG. Well, I checked my spam folder, to see if maybe your comment was there, but it wasn't. How weird.....hope Blogger is not acting up again.....

      I see that you posted another comment. Sorry you had a problem! Happily, the second one went through!

  2. Here goes...trying to comment again.

    I really enjoyed reading your response for number 2 and especially 3.

    My sentiments were the same when it came to Bo. How dare he have the nerve to accuse Isra of things he's done. He is such a hypocrite, which I highly despise. Ay, don't get me started on hypocrites!

    I also agree with your explanation when it came to the treatment of women between the Smooth Skins and the Monstrous. And yes, it's very ironic that the ones who are considered "monsters" are the ones who treat their women with higher respect.

    1. Hi, again!

      Thankfully, this second comment did got through! Ah, the mysterious happenings on the Internet.....Lol.

      I'm so glad you've enjoyed reading my answers! Thanks for complimenting #2 and #3!!

      Bo is definitely a HUGE hypocrite! Unfortunately, many guys in the real world are, too. They feel entitled to be players, and, if they find out that their girlfriend has had several partners in the past, then they think she's a you-know-what! The problem is that society is still largely male-dominated. It's an obvious fact that, when one group dominates another, it's the dominant group that makes all the rules. It's the dominant group that decides what's right and wrong, acceptable and not acceptable. This is totally despicable, of course.

      Thank God we live in this country, though, and not in some Middle Eastern country!! You're read in the news, I'm sure, about how horribly they treat women in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. To those men, women are on a par with animals, because that's how they treat them.

      In the USA, we do still have some sexism, but it's nothing like the situation in those other countries. On the other hand, I heard recently that there is a thriving sex slave trade right here in the U.S. Gotta look into that further, because I find it very hard to believe.

      You know, I included question #3 because it's obviously highly ironic that the people called "Monstrous" were actually superior to the Smooth Skins in their ethical outlook. They actually represent a much higher level of civilization than the supposedly superior Smooth Skins. I think that Stacey Jay made a very effective point here.

      This is not only an extremely enjoyable book, but a very interesting and profound one, as well, because of its underlying political and philosophical ideas! I say, "KUDOS to Stacey Jay!"

      Thanks for your great, thought-provoking comment!! : )


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