Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Review: Sara's Face by Melvin Burgess

Sara's FaceSara's Face by Melvin Burgess
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book a few years ago, but it's one that stood out in my mind, so I think I can remember enough to write a book review.

First of all, Burgess writes this book in a documentary fashion. It seemed so real that every time I started reading it, I wanted to go look up on the internet and see if it was based on a true story. I've read four of Burgess's books, and they are all so absorbing I become borderline obsessed while reading them. I can't think of another author who writes in such a consuming way.

The story is about a girl who wants to be famous. She's obsessed with fame, but she doesn't want to do anything to become famous. She just wants to be famous for being famous. It reminded me of Paris Hilton when I read it. The girl in the book, Sara, was pretty, but she didn't want to sing or model or act. She even scars her face so as not to be pretty. She's very weird and self-destructive.

Sara meets Jonathon Heat, a famous musician who has had so much plastic surgery his face collapses or is ruined (Michael Jackson, anyone?) He wears a mask of his own younger face and never lets anyone see the ruined mess that is his real face. Sara becomes obsessed with him and wears his mask all the time, too. He takes her under his wing, of sorts, because of the resemblance between her face and his younger, pre-surgery face.

About now the story gets weird and very creepy. Jonathon lives in a weird house with all these rooms, including a creepy plastic surgery center in his basement. Sara breaks with her parents and goes to live with Jonathon and begins to fall in love with him, or at least his fame. There is a scene that stands out in my mind where Jonathon goes to kiss her and she can smell this rotting smell from under his mask. Sara starts getting a little creeped out, but not nearly enough. Things start getting weirder and weirder, and you can feel Burgess dragging you to the horrifying climax that you have to read even as you cringe and don't want to...because you know Jonathon is going to steal her face. Or at least try.

The ending of the book confused me some, as it is much later. I wasn't too concerned with writing quality when I read this, so I didn't notice much. I believe Burgess is an extremely talented story-teller who can keep a reader rapt and panting towards the conclusion. This was an extremely timely book full of social commentary and disturbing circumstances that ring eerily familiar in our society. Along with Smack, this is Burgess's best book by far.

Recommended for anyone who loves a good satire, creep-fest, or gripping thriller. Must be able to handle disturbing material.

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