Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review: Beautiful by Amy Reed

SUMMARY: When Cassie moves from the tiny town where she has always lived to a suburb of Seattle, she is determined to leave her boring, good-girl existence behind. This is Cassie’s chance to stop being invisible and become the kind of girl who’s worth noticing.

Stepping into her new identity turns out to be easier than Cassie could have ever imagined…one moment, one choice, changes everything.

Cassie’s new existence both thrills and terrifies her. Swept into a world of illicit parties and social landmines, she sheds her virginity, embraces the numbness she feels from the drugs, and floats through it all, knowing that she is now called beautiful. She ignores the dangers of her fast-paced life…but she can’t sidestep the secrets and the cruelty.

Cassie is trapped in a swift downward spiral tinged with violence and abuse, and no one—not even the one person she thought she could trust—can help her now.


The Short Version:
Striking, raw, and enticing, Beautiful is an unflinchingly real spiral of pain and self destruction. Throwing readers right into the downfall, and holding nothing back throughout, Cassie is a stunningly done character with so much lurking underneath. Laced in steel yet holding a softness to it that will pull readers in, Beautiful is a book like no other.

The Extended Version:
Cassie is a perfectly done good girl turned bad, refusing to let her fears consume her even as she finds herself immersed in a completely new world. From her first hit of acid to her first time with a boy, Cassie is a rapid path to total destruction that is an impossible to ignore roller coaster. Harboring a depth to her that lurks throughout the entire book, and creative in some of her ploys to get herself into and out of various situations, she is a very smart girl with a pain etched far into her that drives much of her actions. Jaded in some ways, and still a little girl in others, the constant shift in her mindset is stunning and real.

While there is a range of characters Cassie interacts with, from in your face Alex to scared of the world Sarah, the story keeps a tight focus around Cassie. Still, each person has a specific and noticeable impact on her, be it good or bad. Ethan has a gentleness to him despite the situation, leaving readers to wonder just how much he does care for Cassie yet holding a barrier there as well because of the situation, and his character is easily one of the more stand out ones in an already memorable cast. Justin is another favorite, trying his best to fit in in a world that seems to want nothing to do with him, and taking his chances where he can when it comes to Cassie.

Launching straight into the action, and holding nothing back even in the most uncomfortable of situations, Reed has written a truly compelling story. With undercurrents of bigger things going on, and a gutting moment where everything will click for readers, there is a vehemence to this book that is impossible to describe, unsettling to feel, but worth it to endure. Seeped in a very heavy emotional air, readers will be so far invested into Cassie’s story there won’t be room for frustration or anger towards her or those around her beyond what she herself feels. Perfectly paced and beautifully scripted, this one is impossible to put down after page one.

The writing is engaging and vivid, giving life to Cassie and showing both the girl she used to be and the girl she is becoming. Hinting at something deeper lurking under the surface, but having a very in the moment constancy to it, Reed’s writing remarkable. Some of the descriptions are completely unique, and every single one is so clearly Cassie, and yet Reed has a way of letting readers know what is between the lines without blatantly including it.

Disastrous in so many ways, and decimating to read, Beautiful is potent, impacting and courageous. Cassie is a character readers will root for and love, and one they will remember long after the last page is done. Physically painful at times, and a book this reader couldn’t put down, Reed has crafted a compelling and raw story.

Source: Purchased
Reading Level: 14 and up 
Paperback: 256 pages 
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: October 5, 2010


  1. I bought this book because of Ellen's blurb on the front. I'll have to read it soon. Great review!

  2. I've wanted to read this one for a looong time now. I don't know why I haven't. Glad to hear you liked it.

  3. AWESOME review. I adored Reed's Clean last year so much that I think I'll pretty much check out anything she writes. She really has a gift for crafting desperate, raw characters who consistently make bad choices, but still keep the reader's sympathy the whole way through.