Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman

Title: Beautiful Lies
Author: Jessica Warman
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Pages: 432 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

Rachel and Alice are an extremely rare kind of identical twins—so identical that even their aunt and uncle, whom they’ve lived with since their parents passed away, can’t tell them apart. But the sisters are connected in a way that goes well beyond their surfaces: when one experiences pain, the other exhibits the exact same signs of distress. So when one twin mysteriously disappears, the other immediately knows something is wrong—especially when she starts experiencing serious physical traumas, despite the fact that nobody has touched her. As the search commences to find her sister, the twin left behind must rely on their intense bond to uncover the truth. But is there anyone around her she can trust, when everyone could be a suspect? And ultimately, can she even trust herself

 Master storyteller Jessica Warman will keep readers guessing when everything they see—and everything they are told—suddenly becomes unreliable in this page-turning literary thriller.


The idea behind stigmatic twins, a concept central to Beautiful Lies and its plot, is that if one twin is hurt, the same injury will manifest itself on the other twin. Warman created well-rounded characters as she explored the relationships between stigmatic twins Rachel and Alice Foster and how they interact with the world around them and it's a shame such fantastic characterization is brought down by horrible pacing, glaring inconsistencies, and bloated writing.

The greatest strength Beautiful Lies has going for it is how well done its character relationships are. Alice and Rachel's relationship as sisters and as stigmatic twins who have only had each other for a large portion of their lives is believable, especially once Rachel's secrets start coming to light. Alice is a complex character herself--not fully explained or completely comprehensible, but she's someone people will want to read about. They might need a hint of what's to come to get them hooked, though. Their relationships with their aunt and uncle and also their friend Kimber were high points as well.

What really got me was how inconsistent the novel was. Remember the explanation I offered earlier about stigmatic twins? The way it's used in the novel doesn't always make sense. Alice doesn't notice she has two black eyes, a dog bite in her leg, or a big gash in the back of her head until someone else points it out and that strikes me as a little strange considering the injuries. When Rachel pulls out one of her teeth, Alice feels nothing and loses no tooth. The scene would have worked had Alice questioned why she didn't feel her sister's pain, but she takes it at face value and never questions why she didn't feel the pain of a tooth being pulled out if she suffers through her sister's injuries.

The scenario that let Rachel get kidnapped in the first place wasn't too logical either. Alice's phone got taken away with good reason, but her guardians still let Alice (or Rachel, since the girls switched identities) to go out with her friends on a Saturday night. Strange way of punishing a child, sending them out with their friends without their cell phone. It seems more sensible to ground her from going out. At the very least, it seems smarter to lift the cell phone ban for one night so Alice would have a way to communicate. But no, that's too inconvenient to the plot, so we get this nonsensical set-up.

None of this was helped by the novel's poor pacing. Alice and Rachel have a strong relationship with one another that gives Beautiful Lies the minimum amount of drive needed, but it isn't powerful enough to hold up a four-hundred thirty-two page novel, nor is the mystery of where Rachel is and who took her. With so little forward momentum to it, getting the novel read took much longer than it usually takes me to read novels just as long or longer. Toward the end, I started skimming.

I own Between, another of Warman's novels, but I'm a little more hesitant about it because part of the problem I had with Beautiful Lies was its prose and how the book felt twice as long as it was. That's more of a style problem than a content problem and there's not much you can do about that sort of problem. Still, Between is here and I might find myself happy with it if I decide to flip through it one day. Beautiful Lies requires a great deal of mental energy because it's the kind of novel where you'll have to reread passages to fully understand what's happening, but other readers may find such a novel more rewarding than I did.

2 stars!

What am I reading next?: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas