Debrarian's Reviews > Crazy Beautiful

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
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's review
Nov 05, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: irritating, ya-aka-teen, fairy-tale-flavor

I was really, really bored and irritated by this supposed re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. (Setting: high school. Characters: pretty girl and boy with hooks for hands.) I only finished it because it was on my Mock Printz reading list, I assume just to give me something to rant about. The catchy cover is by far the best thing about it, even allowing for the fact that it doesn't accurately reflect the content.

I will now be a killjoy. If you liked this book, don't read any farther. The primary problems (I usually wouldn't bother with this detailed a dismissal, but I'm lining up my thoughts for the Mock Printz discussion):

Descriptions, characterizations, observations are consistently generic cop-outs utterly lacking in specificity. Telling instead of showing. A typical example: Lucius describing Aurora's house (p. 112): "It's tough to put my finger on it... but there's just a generous warmth that permeates everything here." Not a single telling detail to back up this claim.

A tin ear for contemporary teenage conversation (including inner monologue) and interactions. Characters act like aliens who've read the Handbook to Earth High Schools and have been given puppet teenagers to animate. Eg. (p. 135): "Those jeans look great on you. I bet Gary will think you look really cool in them." And (p. 141): "Ooh! Dark-tinted, crackle-wash, low-rise boot jeans!"

Inconsistent characterization. Scenes as transparent devices to advance particular plot points. Eg. Anecdote (pp. 41-2) of T.J., in Aurora's preschool, who did "bad stuff" (unspecified, of course). But it's good to be nice to underdogs. Why? Because, in the bizarre words of A's supposedly sane and sweet mother, "because if the underdog grows up to be the kind of person that starts shooting [foreshadow foreshadow:], you'll have a chance at survival." Who says this to their preschooler??

An embarrassing tendency to fall back on antiquated metaphors elaborately interpreted and awkwardly hidden as things-my-dad/mom-says: "At home, my dad plays... real vinyl records! If there's a scratch on one of them, sometimes the needle skips, screeching to the innermost circle of the vinyl as the music halts. Lucius's entrance has that same effect on the room now..."

I'll spare you the rest.

If you want to read a good new book about idiosyncratic, acerbically hilarious teens overcoming significant problems, try Notes from the Madman Underground.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Jane (new)

Jane ok I won't read it. You make me glad I didn't sign up for the Mock Printz

Debrarian Oh, but so many of the other books are great! It's not too late, come to the dark side, join us in hashing over this year's teen reads...

message 3: by Patricia (new)

Patricia What is Mock Printz?

I like how, in your always amusing negative reviews, you end with a recommendation of a better book to read.

Debrarian The annual Printz Award is given to the best American book for teens published that year. (Like unto the Newbery for kids.)

Every year we MCL folks engage in a Mock Printz (also a Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott) where somebody spends all year reading all the reviews and the likeliest books and picks 10, which we then all read and get together to discuss and vote on, following the particular rules of the Printz committee. (Usually we have a bunch of teen council members involved too.) Then a couple weeks later the actual winners are announced by the American Library Association and we all have passionate (and informed) arguments about their selection. Or pump our fists and say "We told you so!!"

message 5: by Patricia (new)

Patricia You librarians have all the fun!

Jennifer I completely agreed with your review including the best thing about the book was the cover. The only difference was that I could not even bring myself to give it 2 stars.

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