Friday, November 23, 2012

Review: Beautiful Lies - Jessica Warman

Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman
Genre: YA, mystery, paranormal, thriller
Published on August 7, 2012
Published by Walker Childrens
Pages: 432
Read From: 11.15.12 - 11.18.12

No one can tell Alice and Rachel apart. But the twin sisters' connection goes beyond their genetic similarities: when one is physically injured, the wound also shows up on the other twin's body, no matter how far apart they may be. 
Sometimes, it even feels like they are the same person, split between two bodies. So when one twin mysteriously disappears, the other instantly feels it - especially when bruises and gashes inexplicably start appearing on her body. As the search to find her sister begins, the twin left behind must use their unique bond to uncover the truth behind the disappearance. But the deeper she digs into her sister's life, the more she realizes that they haven't shared everything with each other - and those secrets may ultimately sever their bond, and their lives, forever.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes. For some reason, it actually piques my interest, even though it really is kind of a boring, nondescript cover. And it looks girly. And heartwarming in a totally depressing way.

Characters: Alice, our protagonist, is thoroughly unlikable. A juvenile delinquent who causes most of her own problems, I tried very hard to feel sympathy for her, but there simply was no way I could. She was selfish, temperamental to a seriously annoying degree, and plain messed up. She wasn’t a good flawed character; she was just flawed. Kimber was an okay “second” character, though she had her own set of issues as well, but at least I found it easier to feel something for her. Her life was messed up, but she didn’t actively seek to ruin it further like Alice does. I didn’t care about Alice’s aunt and uncle either way, her somewhat retarded cousin Charlie made me smile - he was a lovable teddy-bear, - and the rest of the character fell in the undecided zone. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they had lacked dimension, but they did feel a little on the flat side. The villain of the story, I will say, was genuinely creepy. He’s the sort of guy that makes me glad I carry bear mace.

The Romance: Alice’s sort-of love interest, Robin, was probably the flattest character. My first impression of him was not favorable - I just wished he would disappear and never come back into the story. And after a while, I adopted an attitude of whatever whenever he popped up. Maybe it’s because he was such a typical, average “artist bum.”

Plot: The storyline is definitely twisty, and there lots of surprises. In general, I liked the idea of the twists, but the actual revelations left me thinking, What? The purpose behind Alice’s true weirdness didn’t make sense in terms of what it did for the plot, and I’m not talking about her strange connection to her twin Rachel. There’s also a HUGELY major flaw to the whole plot: When Alice returned from the fair, why in the world did she just not blurt out to aunt and uncle, right then and there, that she was Alice, and Rachel had gone missing? Why keep up the charade once something drastic had happened? A serious missing person search would have happened, and Rachel might have been found sooner. It makes no sense.

Believability: There’s so much weirdness in this that believability kind of flies out the window entirely.

Writing Style: Present-tense yet again. The Author does a really good job of transitioning between present-tense and past-tense, when Alice is flashing back to a previous moment in her life. The car accident scene is especially vivid and dramatic. The present-tense lends a lot more drama to the story, and the Author actually manages to keep it from turning her writing all choppy. It still creates a very movie-ish feel, though.

Content: 17 s-words, 3 g--damns, 4 f-words. The Author gets rather graphic with the violence, and I actually felt more than a little light-headed reading some scenes. A couple of characters frequently do drugs, including stolen prescription drugs.

Conclusion: The climax is very dramatic and even a little frightening. However, it also reminded me of so many endings of thriller movies, where the villain chases the heroine down to her house, and then the next 20 minutes is spent with the girl trying to evade him, with them both bleeding profusely, and then of course a police officer shows up and gets his head bashed in for a mistake that no real cop would ever make. Boring! Still, the end had a couple of very good moments, it wasn’t as drug out as it could have been, and the very end was appropriately bittersweet. My thoughts on the overall book are: characters that are so flawed that they are tremendously hard to like, a plot that twists and turns and throws in a lot of weirdness to keep the Reader guessing, but in the end has such a huge hole that it leaves you feeling more than a little disappointed. While there are some unexpected genuinely good twists, it doesn’t make up for the story’s other flaws.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, older teens due to language, violent content, and drug use.

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