My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I chose to ignore this book’s synopsis, as I wanted that “jump blindly to the plot” experience. I’m so very glad I did. I am a long time fan of Ann Aguirre's books. Thus this was an immediate MUST read for me.
The book takes upon its shoulders a lot of complicated social issues and very craftily masters them. Allow me to pinpoint the precise moment this book hooked me: It begins with a suicide attempt. The main character Edie, a teenage girl, is in the brink of taking her own life. The reason behind her decision is simple: bullying in extremis. She is smart and methodical, as such, she plans the exact way/day/time for her death. However, things abruptly change once she is offered a crazy scary bargain by Kian, this random mysterious hot guy: become beautiful and extract revenge to those who pushed her to the limit. Simple, right?
It touches themes of beauty, looks and the shallowness of school. Particularly how does it affect self esteem. Edie's bullying is painful and terrible. It was perfectly clear for me why she takes such extreme measures of death and revenge. I rooted for her!
Fate and choice become an important theme in this book. Edie's actions have a lot of consequences, potentially fatal! So she must thread carefully around her newly found agency.
Aguirre shows us through Edie's experiences possible explanations for bullying, or glimpses of why humans might behave in such a horrible way, without excusing their actions. It was amazing to read. Fear, shame and acceptance are all closely connected. Personally, it really touched me in a lot of ways, as I've been re-visiting some experiences that needed nice closure. Just for this, this book deserves 1.000 stars.
Beyond these themes, this book has scary horror stuff that can easily come from a terrible nightmare. All the monsters ever imagined are REAL and Edie realizes she bargained more than she expected... starting with her sanity. I was creeped out with this atmosphere of horrors and vividly described gory scenes. Particularly, it reminded me of one of the final scenes of the 1995 movie Seven (starring Brad Pitt & Kevin Spacey): a box which we never see its contents but we ALL know what it has *shudders*.
On a side note, I have to mention Kian, the main male interest, he is definitely not my cup of tea, however, in my experience with Aguirre's books, characters I dislike, get better as the plot thickens.
Another thing I noticed and liked, where the excellent gender roles to follow with Edie's parents. Edie's dad cooks their meals, her mom is oblivious to looks and fashion, rather focusing on her academic life. Yay! for breaking some stereotypes. And on this line of thought about debunking stereotypes: *APPLAUSE* as it questions the assumptions regarding rich Colombians and its immediate connection to cartels (1.000 stars more just for this titbit on the 27% mark).
In sum, I have a feeling that this series will stay in my mind for a while, as it deliciously enthralled me with its horrors and human responses to extreme behaviours. More please :)
There is a recurrent theme I see in Aguirre's books: the great food her characters eat!
We have stuffed artichokes, brussels sprouts, poached halibut and oatmeal, deliciously described like this: steel cut, hearty, topped with brown sugar, crushed walnuts, butter, and raisins. I'm hungry!
There was a very famous Chilen poet. Pablo Neruda, who was a skilful writer and cook. He mixed his two passions in some of his poems. Here is an excerpt of his Ode To The Artichoke, it reminded me of Edie's struggles:
With a tender heart
Dressed up like a warrior,
Standing at attention, it built
A small helmet
Under its scales
- Find the whole version at: http://allpoetry.com/Ode-To-The-Artic...
I received an ARC for this book from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for my new nightmares with closed boxes >_<
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