Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sara's Face by Melvin Burgess (4/5 stars)

This is one odd book. I wasn't exactly sure what I was getting into with this book but it was an interesting premise and an interesting book. I can't even remember why I ordered this book; I think the idea of it intrigued me.

This book has a very slight sci-fi bent to it but mostly it is about what would you give for fame and fortune. Sara is a pretty girl who believes that she is going to be extraordinary one day. She sees beauty as art and is determined to make herself art. She is a disturbed girl who is constantly pretending that she is different people, she also loves hiding her beautiful face behind hideous masks. She often thinks of herself as ugly and feels like when she looks in the mirror that is not her face; it is someone elses. Sara also has bizarre accidents that many of her friends/family think are self-inflicted. It is while she is in the hospital recovering from one of these accidents that she meets Jonathan Heat. Jonathan Heat is a superstar; he had so much work done on his face that his face collapsed and he now wears a mask. In Sara, Jonathan sees a kindred spirit. He offers to take her under his wing to teach her everything he knows, and (the biggest thing to Sara) to pay for cosmetic surgery for Sara's whole body. Of course there will be a price, but could Sara ever guess the cost?

The story is done in an interesting way. The author is acting as a journalist who is trying to recreate the events that lead to the final stages of Heat's and Sarah's working relationship. Some of the chapters dictate a video journal that Sarah kept. Other chapters are interviews with the people surrounding Sarah. Some of the chapters are just chapters reporting the facts that the author has found.

It was an engaging read, and also very disturbing. The story was set up in such a way that you really wondered what was going to happen in the end. You both feel sorry for and despise the tragic figures of Jonathan Heat and Sara. There are a number of side characters that are both very caring, good people and very selfish, evil people. All in all I enjoyed the story and how it was put together. This book made me interested in reading more of Burgess's work.

The story is a mystery that is all about the price you put on being perfect. It is also about people who feel detached from their own bodies and how damaged they can be. There is a bit of sci-fi twist to some of the cosmetic procedures performed and there is a bit of supernatural twist to the story as Sara chases a faceless ghost throughout Heat's mansion. It was an intriguing story and I am glad I read it.

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