Thursday, December 18, 2008

Enchanting Review: Sara's Face

Contemporary YA
Simon Pulse
ISBN 978-1-4169-5815-4
264 pages
Paperback – Available now

Rating: 2 Enchantments

Jonathon Heat has nearly everything—fame, millions of fans, success, and money. Unfortunately, he no longer has the one thing he craves most—beauty. Years of experimental cosmetic surgery, and all for fame, have caused his face to collapse, leaving disgusting strips of rotting flesh. Now, he hides behind a mask and waits, hoping his cosmetic surgeon Dr. Kaye will find a way to restore his beauty.

Sara is an elusive and mysterious girl, known by few and truly understood by no one, not ever herself. She is obsessed with beauty and convinced that she is never pretty enough, skinny enough—perfect enough. This fixation leads her to idolize the rock star Jonathon Heat. In him she sees a kindred spirit. Unfortunately, this can't be a good thing if Jonathon Heat is as cunning, imaginative, ambitious, and unreliable as Sara is.

Sara's big break comes when she meets Jonathon Heat after an "accident" scars her face and leaves her in the hospital. The aging rock star recognizes Sara as beautiful—and offers to pay for the cosmetic surgery she yearns for. Sara is ecstatic; fame is nearly at her fingertips. But the longer she stays with Jonathon, the more she begins to doubt his pure intentions. She, and the rest of the world it seems, begins to wonder, what really will become of Sara's face?

Don't let the intriguing summary fool you; I was incredibly disappointed in this book. I originally picked it up because it sounded like a unique psychological thriller, but I was less than impressed with the execution of the plot and Burgess' style of writing, which pretty mush ruined my experience with this novel. SARA'S FACE is written almost like an investigation (biography wouldn't be the correct word) of Sara, with interviews with primary sources, transcripts of Sara's video diary, and other published documents. Now, I'm all for innovative writing styles, but the problem was that Burgess didn't totally stick to his format. There were conversations that seemed made up, because it was unlikely a witness would remember it word for word, and accounts of events where only Sara was present, which would be impossible for the author to know because he made it clear that no one knew Sara. The plot was frankly boring most of the time; it felt like I was reading a monotonous textbook. Only at the very end does anything get truly interesting, but by then, I've lost my sympathy for Sara because the preceding events in the story were way too jumbled and confusing. I felt Burgess' message in SARA'S FACE was very weakly conveyed, and I'm sure most readers will miss it, if they even make it to the end. SARA's FACE does provide some food for thought about fame and vanity, but overall, it's just not interesting enough for me to recommend it to anybody.

Melvin Burgess has written many novels, including SMACK, DOING IT, BLOODTIDE, and BLOODSONG. His works have also been adapted for film and television.

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
November 2008

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