Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: Gorgeous

GORGEOUS
Paul Rudnick
Paranormal/Contemporary Young Adult
327 pages
Scholastic Press
Available Now
Source: Finished copy for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
When Becky Randle's mother dies, she's whisked from her trailer park home to New York. There she meets Tom Kelly, the world's top designer, who presents Becky with an impossible offer: He'll design three dresses to transform the very average Becky into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Soon Becky is remade as Rebecca - pure five-alarm hotness to the outside world and an awkward mess of cankles and split ends when she's alone. With Rebecca's remarkable beauty as her passport, soon Becky's life resembles a fairy tale. She stars in a movie, VOGUE calls, and she starts to date Prince Gregory, heir to the English throne. That's when everything crumbles. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But the idea of a prince looking past Rebecca's blinding beauty to see the real girl inside? There's not enough magic in the world.

Defiant, naughty, and impossibly fun, GORGEOUS answers a question that bewilders us all: Just who the hell IS that in the mirror?

MY THOUGHTS
Gorgeous is a slightly strange and thoroughly surprising read; the synopsis providing us with a certain set of expectations for how events will play out, but when we crack the spine we find the words that make up the blurb, while inarguably accurate on the surface, don’t really encapsulate the feel of the story itself. We initially anticipate a lighter read, a cute fantasy in which a normal girl suddenly becomes extraordinary and finds both Hollywood royalty and real royalty kneeling at her exquisitely outfitted feet, and though it is that, there’s also a seriousness we don't quite see coming.

Gorgeous is at times a jarring combination of contemporary and paranormal, Becky’s transformation into superstar Rebecca always present to remind us of the supernatural element, but there are moments when the magic surrounding Rebecca’s beauty is discussed so matter-of-factly that it’s hard for us to determine whether we’re supposed to suspend disbelief and roll with it, or if we should in fact question the hows and whys of it all. Additionally, this story gets off to a very slow start, long descriptive passages and limited dialogue failing to grab our attention early on, and while the introduction of Prince Gregory about a third of the way through creates a spark of interest, the extensive descriptions of people, places and fashion force things that had finally picked up speed to slow back down.

Despite those flaws, Rebecca/Becky is an enjoyable heroine, a girl who wasn’t overly vain to start with and who therefore feels deserving of her chance at something more than an empty trailer in small-town Missouri has to offer. Once firmly ensconced in Rebecca’s new life, Becky never really loses herself, always attempting to let Becky shine out through Rebecca’s preternaturally flawless features, charming those she meets with more than a bat of her eyelashes or a toss of her hair. While she does have a tendency to run when things get tough, it’s simply a part of her journey to realizing her value as a young woman is not only reflected in her physical features. She’s flesh and blood instead of smoke and mirrors, and we can’t help but smile as her crash course in life’s ups and downs comes to a close.

Overall, Gorgeous is a slow and meandering read at times, often detouring on a related-but-not-necessarily-vital course before returning to the benefits and drawbacks of life as Rebecca, yet for all the bumps marring the road of our enjoyment we still desperately want to know how everything works out, invested in Becky’s future and her personal happiness.

*It should be noted that despite this book’s whimsical appearance and synopsis, it’s recommended for older YA readers. Becky’s best friend Rocher walks a fine line between being hilariously and irritatingly foul-mouthed, and uses her not-inconsiderable vocabulary frequently throughout.

Rating: 3/5

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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

43 comments:

  1. See I am not sure of this book... I mean it sounds a little strange? I wouldn't expect it to be so serious and it looked like a light and fun read.. I think I also was mislead by the cover and blurb!

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    1. It definitely is strange Danny, I just never quite fully figured this one out. There was a lot of description. A. Lot. So I found myself skimming large sections of text.

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  2. I am not sure. I mean she gets pretty, but then she should really be pretty all the time. What so without pretty dresses and makeup we are nothing?

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    1. No, that's not the message at all - it's definitely about finding beauty in everyone:)

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  3. You're right, it does look and sound like a light, fun read. Sort of a Princess Diaries meets Devil Wears Prada sound of thing, if you know what I mean? I'd still like to give it a go though.
    Suzy Turner, YA Author

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    1. Yes! That's what I was expecting, and it was a bit more serious than that. Not a problem really, just unexpected.

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  4. I love that first paragraph! Anyway, I don't think this book is for me. Slow, meandering novels aren't my type and though the cover is lovely, I was never a fan of the story to begin with. Great review, Jenny!(:

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    1. Thanks Keertana! This book definitely meandered and could have been tightened up a bit, but I liked the overall message and I did enjoy Becky:)

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  5. This doesn't sound like what I was expecting at all. I'm not a big fan of slow and thoughtful novels, for the most part, and it sounds like all the elements don't necessarily mesh too well together. I'm not sure this one is for me, but that was one heck of a review, Jenny! :)

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    1. Nor am I, that's why I struggled a little bit with this one. I was thinking more of a Prince and Me type romantic comedy, and it's not really that at all:)

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  6. I read a chunk of this one (through the red dress part), put it down and haven't picked it back up. I really do plan on giving it another go but that first 1/3 just...it was almost too much. BUT I do love the concept and want to see what happens, especially as she moves on to other dresses. And I love Rocher! She definitely does have a foul mouth.

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    1. I did the same Mary. I liked when Gregory came into the picture, things picked up a bit with the tension between them, but then it would slip into long descriptive passages again and he'd lose me. Rocher was a fun character though:)

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  7. The cover for this book is...gorgeous. Ha! I find to get into books with overly descriptive passages and slow starts, so I don't think I'll be picking this one up. Great review, Jenny!

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    1. Isn't it! This book takes some patience to get through, but I did want to find out what happened to Becky.

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  8. hmm I'm not sure this is one for me. I like the idea behind it all but with the slow start and the straying plot I think I would just find myself bored. I'm happy that you were able to come to enjoy the story overall though.

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    1. I was curious enough about the 2 other dresses other than the red one to keep reading, but it was very slow and tedious at times.

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  9. I don't think I'd particularly have the patience for this one (especially with the meandering plot, as you say), and while I'm glad that you didn't dislike it, it's not quite grabbing my interest anymore. I think I'll probably skip for the time being. Lovely review, Jenny! :)

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    1. It could be a trying read at times for sure Sam, but there were definitely some strong elements I really enjoyed as well:)

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  10. I have an ARC of this book and I definitely want to give it a try!

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    1. I hope you let me know what you think Dana!

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  11. Hmm. I feel like there could have been an opportunity here to dissect how society defines beauty. Without that, I don't know if it would do it for me. Especially with long descriptive passages.

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    1. Yes. I just felt like there could have been more to this one. I did like Becky and how things worked out for her, it just wasn't a story that necessarily reached out and grabbed me.

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  12. I really wanted to pick this one up because, lets face it, that cover is gorgeous! But I haven't heard too much about it and it seems most people that have read it agree with you, it is just a so so book. I am glad that you enjoyed it and get invested in Becky's life.

    Amazing review as always!!

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    1. Thanks Ali! This was just an okay read for me, there were definite highlights, but I was hoping for something a little cuter I guess.

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  13. Hahahaha. Slightly strange is well said Jenny LOL :D I tried reading this one, but it was just so weird and I didn't give a rat's butt about the MC and all the characters were just so plain weird.. I ended up DNF-ing it. I'm glad you at least found it likable enough to give it three stars and ended up liking Becca in some ways. I just couldn't connect with her and it felt like a Disney movie I just wasn't in a mood for.

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    1. I don't know what else to call it besides strange! It wasn't poorly written by any means, nor did anything morally objectionable take place (which is what I typically reserve those lower ratings for), but it definitely didn't wow me either. I got through it and did very much like Becky in the end, but I was tempted to set it aside a few times.

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  14. Hmm, this is definitely different than I expected. I don't like the fact that it has a slow start and has a lot of unnecessary description that weighs the pace down. That's unfortunate. I wasn't too pumped about this book just from the synopsis, but I do love the cover. I'm glad to hear you didn't love love love it because my TBR has already been weighed down enough by your fab recs lately, and I'm glad to be able to skip this one! :-) Wonderful honest review Jenny, glad you enjoyed it enough for 3 stars.

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    1. Yes, I remember reading the first few chapters and noticing how little dialogue there was. It was just a lot of description with no character interaction to break it up. I think you can certainly take a pass on this one Lauren!

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  15. Ha ha... I appreciate the warning about Becky's friend. I was so hoping this would be a better read, I grabbed it after I saw your WOW, it sounds like it is good , but fails to be great. Still I am curious about it.

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    1. Haha yes, I definitely blinked in surprise a few times at the things that came out of Rocher's mouth, so I felt a warning was necessary for sure:) I'm curious to see what you think if you pick it up Heidi!

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  16. Contemporary and paranormal? A weird mix huh? Well, I do like that she is not overly vain cause stuck chicks I don't like. Nice review Jenny!

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    1. It was a strange mix Savy! I wasn't sure if I should be questioning the paranormal element like I normally would, or if I was just supposed to take it at face value and accept it like everyone around Becky does. It was odd:)

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  17. I was thinking this one may not be for me until I read the warning. I had a friend who cussed like a sailor in HS (oddly enough I didn't at that time) and so I need to read it for the nostalgia. LOL Still not liking the sense that you don't know if suspension or rolling with belief is needed. Sounds confusing, but now that I'm warned... Hm...

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    1. Hahaha I think you need to meet Rocher for sure then! She's got a very special mouth on her:)

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  18. I have this on my shelf but it's an early ARC with no picture on the cover, just solid black. I'm not sure if there's a description, but I know that I didn't know what it was about. I'm halfway curious now. Since you didn't love it I'm not sure if I want to pick it up, but I find myself more interested in it then I was before. So I may actually read it... one day.

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    1. I really liked the premise, and in the end, I loved what happened with all three dresses, but there just wasn't enough to have me dying to turn the page. I did a lot of skimming in the descriptive passages.

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  19. I knew right from the start that this wouldn't be for me, since it includes pretty much everything I dislike about contemporary. The fact that it includes paranormal elements, and not in a good way, doesn't help in the least.
    *sigh* I really don't have time for books I'm unsure about so I'll calmly skip this one.
    Thanks for the lovely review, Jenny!

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    1. It's definitely a strange little story, and certainly unique so I could appreciate that about it. I just needed things to move a little faster:)

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  20. I felt exactly the same way about this that you did Jenny. I think the path this book took did end up surprising me and the rambly long passages were hugely difficult to get my head around. But I liked some aspects to this story, such as the scenes with Prince Gregory, I just wish I could have loved it more :( Wonderful review Jenny!

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    1. I remember reading your review and just going YES! We had much the same reaction, and I did thoroughly enjoy Prince Gregory just as much as you:)

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  21. Well, I've always been a bit confused by the book blurb. I can't figure out if she has to be wearing one of the three dresses to be beautiful and what happens when she's not wearing them. Do people recognize her? I'm not big on overly descriptive without much action or dialogue. Or slow starts. It's a beautiful cover, still sounds very lackluster. Thanks for the review.

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  22. I don't really believe hoe quickly Becky transforms from a nobody to a hollywood superstar. I like that she never lost her true self, but I don't think I would like this book very much. Thanks for the review, Jenny!

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  23. I love the idea of this book and I'm really looking forward to trying it-I've heard it's pointed satire and can be hard to click with but I just love its concept so much.

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