Published: October 6th 2009, Simon Pulse
Pages: 232 pages, paperback
Acquired: Purchased myself
Summary (from Goodreads): When Cassie moves from the tiny town where she has always lived to a suburb of Seattle, she is determined to leave her boring, good-girl existence behind. This is Cassie’s chance to stop being invisible and become the kind of girl who’s worth noticing.
Stepping into her new identity turns out to be easier than Cassie could have ever imagined…one moment, one choice, changes everything.
Cassie’s new existence both thrills and terrifies her. Swept into a world of illicit parties and social landmines, she sheds her virginity, embraces the numbness she feels from the drugs, and floats through it all, knowing that she is now called beautiful. She ignores the dangers of her fast-paced life…but she can’t sidestep the secrets and the cruelty.
Cassie is trapped in a swift downward spiral tinged with violence and abuse, and no one—not even the one person she thought she could trust—can help her now.
My review: Okay. I read Beautiful over a month ago and am only just reviewing it now. I'm still not really sure what I want to say about it as I found the whole experience of reading it very confusing. I'm also sorry that this isn't really a review, just kind of a rant (that isn't actually a huge rant, as I did sort of enjoy the book).
Have any of you seen the movie Thirteen? It was great. If you've watched Thirteen then you don't need to read Beautiful, you already know pretty much exactly what happens. So, I did have an issue with Beautiful the entire way through - it just read like a novel adaptation of Thirteen and I found that really, really hard to get over. To be honest I'm absolutely mystified that more people haven't mentioned this in any of the other reviews I've read. I mean, I found it uncomfortable how similar the two stories were.
Anyone who's seen Thirteen (if you haven't then I recommend it) will know the opening scene, where the two girls, completely high, sit on a bed and punch each other over and over again, getting more and more hysterical because they're so wasted it seems hilarious. Okay, when I read this quote in Beautiful, I made up my mind, the plots were just far too similar:
'I want to grab that skateboard and hit her with it. But she would probably just laugh. Even if her jaw were broken and she was covered in blood, she'd just smile at me with her big crazy eyes and make me feel like there is nothing I can do to hurt her.'
Before I really go off into a rant and start spouting 'J'ACCUSE!!!' all over the place I should point out that the similarities between this book and Thirteen are probably just coincidental. It just really threw me off to read something so close to a movie I love. I did actually watch Thirteen again just after I finished Beautiful and noted down all the similarities - it was a long list.
And one last thing before I stop with the Thirteen comparisons. This is a plot summary for the movie:
'Tracy is a normal 13-year-old girl trying to make it in school. After befriending a new girl at school, Evie; Tracy's world is turned upside down when Evie introduces Tracy to a world of sex, drugs and cash. But it isn't long before Tracy's new world and attitude finally takes a toll on her, her family, and old friends.'
EXACTLY THE SAME.
I'll stop now.
Regardless of everything I've written above, I did actually quite enjoy Beautiful. It's an interesting story and I like a bit of grit so I certainly didn't take offense to any of the sex/swearing/drinking/drugs etc. I know some people were bothered by this, judging by some Goodreads reviews but, honestly, if you're reading a book about a 'swift downward spiral tinged with violence and abuse' then you know what you've signed up for - don't start bitching when the protagonist starts drinking, for God's sake.
One thing I loved about Beautiful was the subplot with Sarah - which, interestingly, is the only part that I found to be very original. I really liked watching the friendship between Cassie and Sarah develop and, more than any of the other characters, I was so desperate for Sarah to pull through and overcome the difficulties in her life.
So, yes, apologies again that this isn't really a review but I'm still not sure what to make of this one. Basically, if you've watched Thirteen then I'd probably give this one a miss if you don't want to end up hurling it across the room, while screaming 'IT'S EXACTLY THE SAME'. That said, if you haven't watched Thirteen then you'll probably really enjoy Beautiful. Swings and roundabouts.
First line: 'I don't see her coming.'
Read if you liked…: Thirteen (the movie) - because the story is pretty much exactly the same.
Total: 14/20 (B)