Jennifer at BookShelfery's Reviews > Beautiful Lies

Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman
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Aug 09, 12

bookshelves: young-adult, mystery
Read from July 25 to 30, 2012

This review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.

Beautiful Lies lied beautifully to me…all the way through to the end. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Did I love it? Did I hate it? This review is going to help me figure that out, so let’s go on a little adventure!

Rachel and Alice are identical twins. They are so identical, in fact, that their aunt and uncle cannot tell them apart. They are a rare kind of twin that shared an amniotic sac in utero, when typically the survival rates of such twins are low. It’s mentioned briefly in the beginning of the novel that twins run in their family – four sets of twins were born in three generations (although not all are necessarily identical).

Since Rachel and Alice are so rare, they share a connection that seems to go beyond the deep connections twins usually already possess: when something happens to Rachel, Alice feels it (and sometimes it actually happens to her, too – like if Rachel chokes on something, Alice feels the choking sensation as well). It’s like they are the same person. They can communicate to each other through dreams, without words, across distances. It’s endlessly fascinating for someone who is not a twin, but has twins all over her family (I’m talking about me here). I’ve found twins and the idea of twins captivating all my life. To start out life from the very beginning with someone else is really something special; we’re usually born alone, and we usually die alone. But there have been stories of twins who have died on the same day, within hours of each other: Julian & Adrian Riester died at age 92, and Joan & Patricia Miller died within what authorities believe to be hours of each other as well. And Google will bring you dozens more stories. There is something sacred in knowing you’ve got someone else forever.

I’ve digressed.

What if you could be a fly on the wall and find out what other people really felt about you? If you were a twin and you could switch places, and nobody would know the difference, would you do it? Even if the intent isn’t to find out what people think, that’s still an outcome you have to know will happen, so is it really worth it?

So I’m telling you all that because I’m not sure if Beautiful Lies was trying to be a book about paranormal twins (you know, twins with all kinds of weird, freaky sh*t happening to them), or trying to be a young-adult thriller. Rachel, the “good” twin, goes missing while the twins have switched, and Alice feels she must continue to pretend to be Rachel in order to find her. And why not, you know? No one can tell them apart. She has her reasons.

Except…why? Alice is the bad twin. People expect bad things from her. You learn this very early in the book so I’m not spoiling anything for you. Why not just out yourself so there is a sense of urgency to find Rachel? The more I think about it, the more this didn’t make sense to me, weird paranormal happenings, mental disorders and psychosis aside (say what? Yeah, just read it). The reasons for doing this were spelled out, but I didn’t buy them.

This book overall is very complicated and web-weaving…I really don’t want to go too much further into it (even though I have a LOT to say about it!!!), because anything I could say would spoil the whole thing for you. However, I did have a gut feeling I knew who the bad guy was, and I was right (so…always trust your gut!). But there were a lot of other surprises in this book that blew me away.

Jessica Warman’s writing is superb. It just flows naturally from page to page, with a nearly lyrical quality to it. I had a hard time putting Beautiful Lies down, for the writing and just wanting to find out what the hell was going on. Her characters are realistic and keenly felt; my heart broke for them as she delved into their histories.

I actually gave serious thought to not reviewing this book at all. I think my thoughts are coming across as jumbled and, well, just not linear. I’m normally better than this, but this book took me for a wild roller coaster ride and I still feel like throwing up a bit. I do not recommend this book for people looking for a light read. Not at all. I think I want a whiteboard so I can draw out all the characters and relationships and timelines. I’m dead serious.

Okay, I didn’t hate it. Any book that makes me think that hard…I can’t hate it.

The ending… Jessica Warman has some big cajones to mastermind an ending like that.
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