Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: Beautiful Lies, by Jessica Warman (2012, Walker Books for Young Readers)

Recommended for ages 14+

When a twin sister mysteriously disappears, her sister is left to find her before it’s too late. All she has to go on is the mysterious injuries that show up on her body to let her know that her sister is still alive.
Alice and Rachel are a very rare type of identical twins. Mirror images of one another, they are so identical that even their family and friends have trouble telling them apart – which comes in handy for the girls, as they like to switch places. Rachel and Alice are connected in a way that no one else knows about – when one twin experiences pain, the other will manifest the same injury. Orphaned at a young age and living with their aunt and uncle, one twin grew up wild and one more conservative. When one of the twins disappears during an Oktoberfest celebration and the other starts experiencing physical injuries, she begs her family to call the police and search for her sister. But with a history of mental illness in the family and a penchant for running away, Rachel and Alice’s aunt and uncle are slow to react. The big question here is: which teen is actually the missing teen, and can her sister find her before it’s too late?

Jessica Warman writes mysteries with a paranormal bent, and Beautiful Lies is no exception. Taking the twin phenomenon one step further, Rachel and Alice are mirror-image twins who like to switch identities, already establishing unreliable narrators. Throw in a history of mental illness that affected the girls’ grandmother and mother, and once the narrator reveals that she may not be the twin the reader thinks she is, we have a real mystery on our hands – who is missing, Rachel or Alice? The narrative stumbles with the constant identity switching within the text may confuse readers more than keep them on their toes. The paranormal aspect fades in and out of the narrative and may appear inconsistent, which may leave readers feel like they have been left hanging. Overall, the pacing is good as is the writing, but it is difficult to become attached to any of the characters because the reader doesn’t really know who’s who.
Jessica Warman is a YA author whose books have been designated among the Best Books for Young Adults by the Young Adults Library Services Association (YALSA) and have achieved the Booklist Top 10. Her author website offers information about her books, contact information, and her blog.

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