Saturday, December 11, 2010

Beautiful Malice: A Novel

Beautiful Malice: A Novel

Author: Rebecca James

Publisher: Bantam

Pages: 256

Read Time: 2 Days

Rating (1-5): 5

Tag Words: 2010 Debut, Suspense, flashbacks, flash forward, murder, pregnancy, trauma, intrigue, love

My Summary:

Katherine Patterson has left behind the regret, pain and suffering of her former life for the glorious, beautiful and interesting world of Alice. Katherine’s new best friend doesn’t live by anyone’s rules, and that is just fine by Katherine. After running away from her sister’s rape and murder, all Katherine wants to do is forget, move past the memory and accept that she will never be happy. But soon enough everyone knows her secrets, everyone knows what she refuses to accept, that Rachel’s murder was not her fault. How can she move past that night, when it’s memory hangs on her like a cloak? How will she accept her Beautiful Malice?

My Review:

This book has really been flying under the radar. I picked it up because the synopsis intrigued me, and it’s a 2010 Debut, I kept reading because I was hooked from page one.

Apparently this book was the epicenter of a huge auction for the publishing rights and I completely get why. What I don’t understand is why Beautiful Malice isn’t a big, big deal! Why isn’t everyone reading this book? I am telling you, read this book, it’s wonderful.

The best part is the three part plot. Katherine narrates from the present, where she and her daughter Sarah have such a beautiful, mother-daughter bond. Katherine breaks the teen-pregnancy stereotype, letting her adoration for her baby girl (now a little girl) over-shadow the hardships of life and the pain of her past. Katherine also narrates the night of her sisters rape and murder in the first part of the book, these memories are well-written, fiercely sad, but also factual. The way in which James wrote really lends itself to being believable as a memory, instead of just part of the story. The final narration is Katherine’s new life with Alice, Robbie, Phillipa and Mick. Again, James breaks the stereotype, using Katherine’s senior year of high school as a fact, not a setting, and involving college students who use their majors to assess life, instead of smoking a bong, or drinking brew. James greatest gift in writing is her ability to break a mold while keeping a sense of reality and truth within the plot.

The characters are great, and they all enter and exit, re-enter and build in such perfect proportion! Katherine’s life progresses in this book. Instead of focusing entirely on Alice, or Katherine, or one love interest, James weaves them all in and out in perfect sync with a balanced plot.

The greatest character is the palpable hope of life after the worst things happen. The way that Katherine frames her life decisions around her daughter is breathe-taking. Those moments personally appealed to me, as Katherine and I both share the pain of life and being scared for the children we have/will have. Sarah is a fabulous character, who asks the perfect questions to move along a plot and provide the answers that make Beautiful Malice just Beautiful.

Audio Cover

*spoiler Alert!* My only complaint is that Alice and Mick’s death is really impersonal, it was too tame for the wild plot behind it. Katherine’s life is bookended by murder, death and a suicide, but Sarah brings such a hope to rely on, I felt that the contrast between the final deaths and the wonder-life with Sarah should have been more stark *Spoiler Alert over!*

Notes on the Names: Rebecca James is so consistent! She knows how to make a sibling-set out of her characters names. They were all beautiful, classic, appealing and suitable for their characters. Katherine, Rachel, Sarah, Alice, Phillipa, Mick, Robbie, Vivien, Helen, Grant and Sean. I was so curious, I flipped to the back of the book and read her four sons names. They too fit perfectly together- Charlie, Oscar, Jack and Jimmy.

Aussie Cover
Title Thoughts: I wonder if James did this on purpose, or if it just happened to fit. If you remove the ‘M’ from the title, Beautiful Malice becomes Beautiful Alice. Just a thought.

Thoughts on the Cover: I really don’t like this cover. I read this book after checking it out from the library and I’m just not a fan. I hope that something more reflective of the good in this story, the hope, will be portrayed on the paperback cover. I do really love the audio cover, it gives you more of the model, who looks phsyco, paranoid, and pained. I want the Aussie cover, I love the Aussie cover!


Books for Company said...

Haven't heard of this author before. Thanks for the review
Books For Company

Anonymous said...

The author is really cool. But some of the commentators are just posting stupid words.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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