Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: Beauty - Nancy Butcher

Nancy Butcher 
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Delightful
On Goodreads

I actually read this book in middle school, a few years back and stumbled upon it again in the Great Bookshelf Reorganization of August 2013. I figured I’d review it because even though it’s meant for a slightly younger audience, I still think it’s a great book and I’d definitely enjoy it if I read it now instead of in seventh grade.

Beauty is a somewhat retelling of the classic Snow White. I’m a sucker for a good spin on a fairy tale so I thought I’d give this book a go. It focuses on Ana, the daughter of the beautiful Queen Veda of Ran. As the years pass by, Ana’s beauty starts to surpass that of her mother, to which her mother does not take kindly. She realizes her only option is to make herself hideous. But then she is sent to a very prestigious academy for girls, where she learns more about beauty and about herself than she ever thought possible.

One thing I really liked about this book was the emotion behind the characters. Even though Ana is a practical, headstrong person, she buckles at the disapproval of her mother. In fact, having her mother show affection becomes a sort of obsession for Ana, who constantly tried harder and harder to make herself ugly in order to gain her mother’s approval. There are so many instances in the book that highlight just how far Ana is willing to go, like:
“Ana still craved—craved—more of her mother’s affection. She would have to figure out how to get it, even if it meant doubling her pastry consumption or cutting all her hair off. She would do whatever it took.”  
 “It had all been worth it: the looks at school, the horrible bloating of her belly, the pocks on her skin. The emptiness felt every time she saw herself in the mirror. Her mother truly loved her—finally, again. And Ana would not risk losing that a second time.”
I love how Nancy Butcher portrays the toxicity of the relationship between Ana and Veda. Just like Veda is obsessed with her beauty, Ana is obsessed with making herself ugly. She skips bathing for days, sometimes weeks. Her toenails “were long and, with ripples of green and yellow.” Even though I hated Veda as a person, I loved what was done with her character. I thought she was such an interesting character, especially when the book got more into how twisted of a person she really is.

 Another character I loved was the Beauty Consultant. He was to Veda what the magic mirror was to the original evil queen. I loved how his eyes changed colors and how he had a different sort of power, possibly even greater than the Queen. He was a dark character but one of my favorites nonetheless. I also loved reading about the dynamic of all the girls at the Academy and how much they cared about their appearance. To all of them, being beautiful was worth any price.

Beauty is definitely a very enjoyable read. The story is fast paced and it’s full of awesome dialogue, delightful writing, and a story that you will love no matter how old you are. I loved what Butcher had to say not only about beauty as a whole, but about how relationships can change, and be based off, jealousy and fear. It’s a short book, but every page is full of wonderful surprises.

- Noor

How far would you be willing to go to be beautiful?
Let us know in the comments!

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