Monday, 25 April 2011

Review: Beautiful Malice - Rebecca James

Published: July 1st 2010, Faber and Faber
Pages: 353 pages, paperback
Series?: Standalone
Acquired: Purchased myself (and read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge)

Summary (from Goodreads): ''So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?'

Following a terrible tragedy that leaves her once-perfect family shattered, Katherine Patterson moves to a new city, starts at a new school, and looks forward to a new life of quiet anonymity.

But when Katherine meets the gregarious and beautiful Alice Parrie her resolution to live a solitary life becomes difficult. Katherine is unable resist the flattering attention that Alice pays her and is so charmed by Alice’s contagious enthusiasm that the two girls soon become firm friends. Alice’s joie de vivre is transformative; it helps Katherine forget her painful past and slowly, tentatively, Katherine allows herself to start enjoying life again.

But being friends with Alice is complicated – and as Katherine gets to know her better she discovers that although Alice can be charming and generous she can also be selfish and egocentric. Sometimes, even, Alice is cruel.

And when Katherine starts to wonder if Alice is really the kind of person she wants as a friend, she discovers something else about Alice - she doesn’t like being cast off

My review: Seriously - Beautiful Malice is an absolutely brilliant book. It's been sitting on my shelf for a little while but it never jumped out and grabbed my attention when I was choosing what to read next. However, I finally decided to give it a go and I'm so, so glad I did. I soared through it in a matter of hours and stayed up far too late on a Sunday night to finish it - cue very dark circles under my eyes the next day.

I raved and raved about Choker earlier in the year and Beautiful Malice definitely reminded me a little of it. Not in content or plot but the tones were quite similar. Very dark, extremely creepy and fantastically written. Rebecca James is a complete genius and I'm just angry it took me so long to read this book.

Alice will scare the shit out of you. She is crazy. Really. Completely unhinged but I loved her for that. When you (as the reader) finally realise just what she's capable of, just how cruel she is - well, I still haven't stopped thinking about Beautiful Malice and I'm desperate to reread it again. I don't want to give much away about the plot as I loved all the twists and turns that I was completely clueless about.

On a technical level, this is a brilliantly structured book. It leaps from the past, even deeper into the past and then on to the present day and each chapter, whichever time period it's set in, reveals a little more about Katherine's life and how she ended up in her present situation. When I finally found out exactly what happened to her little sister, Rachel, I had to take a moment to steady myself. Just... awful - but not at all gratuitous, so well written.

Katherine is a fantastically layered character with so much to her personality, Philippa is another stand out (love her) but Alice completely dominates Beautiful Malice. She's brutal but brilliant and she's definitely rocketing up to the list of my top villains.

Do not make the mistake I did and wait to read Beautiful Malice. If it wasn't on your radar until now then listen to me - you need this book in your life! Perfection.

First line: 'I didn't go to Alice's funeral.'

Read if you liked…: Choker - Elizabeth Woods

Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 18/20 (A)

1 comment:

  1. I loved this one too. It's one of my fave books! Alice is the stuff of nightmares, alright!


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