Friday, January 14, 2011

Review of Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

I heard of Beautiful Malice for the first time when my friend was looking for it in a bookstore and my penchant for staring into the distance proved helpful in finding it on a poorly-placed featured shelf. I never really paid it much mind until I saw it again on a Goodreads list for YA by Australian authors (that I was checking out for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge).

Who is Katherine Patterson? It is a question she hopes no one can answer. To erase her past, Katherine has moved to a new city, enrolled in a new school, and even changed her name. She’s done the next best thing to disappearing altogether. Now, wary and alone, she seeks nothing more than anonymity. What she finds instead is the last thing she expected: a friend.

Even more unlikely, Katherine’s new friend is the most popular and magnetic girl in school. Extroverted, gorgeous, flirtatious, and unpredictable, she is everything that Katherine is not and doesn’t want to be: the center of attention. Yet Alice’s enthusiasm is infectious, her candor sometimes unsettling, and Katherine, in spite of her guarded caution, finds herself drawn into Alice’s private circle.

But Alice has secrets, too—darker than anyone can begin to imagine. And when she lets her guard down at last, Katherine discovers the darkest of them all. For there will be no escaping the past for Katherine Patterson—only a descent into a trap far more sinister . . . and infinitely more seductive.
[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Beautiful Malice had me hooked from the very first line: "I didn't go to Alice's funeral." The narration jumped between Katherine on the night her sister died, her times as Alice's friend, and her life five years after that. Even with the story's outcome known from the very start, I was constantly wondering how plot X would turn into outcome Y.

The writing style was raw, intense, and suspenseful. As you were reading you can feel the weight of each word, and know that every little one was important. The writing alone could have you captivated, but the plot was compelling, too: I was wide-eyed while reading this book into the wee hours of the morning. It's impossible to put down.

The characters were superbly written. Katherine was a great protagonist with an interesting story to tell. Her constant turmoil over her sister's death made her feel read and also made a believable impact on all of her decisions. Alice was also a great character - or a bad one? She was, of course, the antagonist. Her rapid changes in demeanor and her spouts of unjustified cruelty made her a chilling character, but a compelling one nonetheless.

The romance between Mick and Katherine added sweet, soft scenes to the story in between the rest of the drama. Their relationship went quickly, but the attraction between them was obvious.

I was pleased that the book ended on a hopeful note. With all of the heart-wrenching drama intermittent throughout the book, it was nice that the ending hinted towards Katherine having a safe and happy life.

I give Beautiful Malice a 6 out of 5, and recommend it to everyone.


I read this book for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge.