Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Review: A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young

SUMMARY: We all want to be remembered. Charlotte's destiny is to be Forgotten...

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend's arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become--her mark on this earth, her very existence--is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny--no matter how dark the consequences.


The Short Version:
Unique in premise and brilliant in execution, A Need so Beautiful weaves a fresh, fantastic new take on light and dark. Creating an angel of sorts while not relying heavily on actual angel principles, Young has made a stellar blend of contemporary with a supernatural twist. With a sympathetic protagonist, a hot love interest, and a well paced story line, A Need so Beautiful is engaging from the start and fulfilling in the end.

The Extended Version:
Charlotte is an incredibly likable character, filled with great qualities that make her both a great friend and an enjoyable protagonist. Ridden with an overwhelming Need to do good deeds, however, she goes through some trying situations and fantastic overall character growth. Her love for her boyfriend is intense, and the two share some very emotional and poignant scenes. Charlotte’s character is built strongly from the start, with hints of it continuing throughout even as she is pushed further towards being Forgotten.

Harlin is dreamy in every sense of the world, a rugged bad boy with a completely soft, sweet side that outshines the rest. He is deeply in love with Charlotte, and will do most anything for her. He not only drives the plot in some key places, but he pushes Charlotte in ways she otherwise wouldn’t go through. He is a very well done love interest, and the playout as a couple that’s been together for two years rather than falling in love newly adds a fresh element to this book.

The rest of the cast of characters is relatively small but focused and well developed. From Charlotte’s best friend, Sarah, to the doctor at the clinic she volunteers at to her foster mother, Young has made each character unique and memorable. The importance of some characters isn’t seen until the end, and the interactions between them all is both enjoyable and emotional throughout.

While there is angelic element, so to speak, this isn’t an angel book and the new twist on this makes it stand out. Young’s plot is completely unique and plays out a very steady pace. Each new Need adds something not only to Charlotte but to the worldbuilding as well, creating things smoothly for the reader without any specific focus on it. New pieces of the overall puzzle about Charlotte and the Forgotten come at regular intervals, each one at just the right time before the bold finale. The various Needs Charlotte endures each have their own impact and message, and the thought behind them is clear and appreciated.

There is a clear contemporary component to this book, using a setting and situation that any reader can understand, visualize, and imagine themselves in. The incorporation of the Needs and supernatural element is smooth and clear, never leaving the reader confused or wondering what is going on. Explanations come in at just the right moments, and the story logic is easy to follow.

Young’s writing flows very smoothly and has an easy readability to it. With just the bare minimum of description, Young is straight to the point and rich in voice and characterization, while still giving enough detail to build the events in the reader’s mind. There is a good blend between funny and rough, and Young has perfect timing in instances of both humor and romance amidst the more serious events going on. There are some incredibly emotional scenes, cutting right into the reader and pitched in a way that everyone can empathize with, strengthening the bond between reader and the characters.

The overall impact of this book is potent, throwing both right and wrong, and lasting effects into questions. From self sacrifice to how far someone should go with good deeds, and building on things easy to understand and pitched in her own way, Young has most definitely made something that is both enjoyable to read but will make a reader think. Mixing in a focused amount of love and romance also adds to the lasting impression of this book, testing the power of love and slipping in implications of lingering memories and the power they can hold.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 272 pages 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray 
Publication Date: June 21, 2011


  1. Beautiful review, Kari. <3

    I'm glad you pointed out that Charlotte & Harlin were already together once the book started. That IS refreshing since so many books have the girl or the boy meeting someone for the very first time. And I'm very curious about the Need that Charlotte feels to help others. I'd like to know why exactly she has it!

  2. Loved this review! Suzanne's Naughty List series is one of my favorites so I can't wait to see how this one is :)