Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: Beautiful Malice

This psychological thriller follows a grieving teenager who falls under the spell of a charismatic friend. Alice seems to be just the friend Katherine Patterson needs, but it quickly becomes clear that Alice has a dark side. Filled with grief since her sister's murder, Katherine moves to a new school and avoids others, until the beautiful and popular Alice befriends her. The two become fast friends, but Alice quickly shows her dark and unpleasant tendencies. People are captivated by Alice's beauty and charm, but she treats others terribly as mood strikes her.

It is not entirely clear what is wrong with Alice, but by the time Katherine recognizes this it may be too late to escape Alice's clutches. The story is told in the past, present, and future, as the reader learns what happened to Katherine's sister, they also see her grown up, with a daughter.

James does a decent job of building suspense throughout the book. That said, there were certain nagging issues that bothered me. I couldn't tell exactly where the book was set. James is an Australian author, though this was billed as her US debut. It was never entirely clear to me if the book was set in the US or Australia. I also found the amount of freedom afforded these teenagers completely unbelievable. Katherine's parents are supposedly overprotective, though they let her live in a distant city with no supervision. Both Alice and Katherine live on their own and seem to have plenty of money and ample tie to do whatever they want. This simply didn't seem plausible, and I found these things distracting.

The final analysis- this is a good enough story, though nothing spectacular.

Rebecca James, Beautiful Malice (Bantam, 2010) ISBN: 0553808052

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