Book Review: Beautiful Malice – Rebecca James

Title: Beautiful Malice
Author: Rebecca James
ISBN: 9780553808056
Pages: 272
Release Date: July 13, 2010
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Katherine Patterson is the quiet girl at her high school.  Once popular and outgoing, since the tragic death of her sister, she has switched schools and kept a low profile.  That is, until Alice Parrie, a beautiful girl in her class, seeks her out and decides to become friends with her.  Katherine is thrilled, until Alice’s self-destructive tendencies begin to show and Katherine becomes convinced Alice is going to take everyone close to her down with her.

Review:

Beautiful Malice is a book that’s hard to classify.  It isn’t a mystery, though there is the mystery of Alice’s behavior, Katherine’s sister’s death, and where Katherine has ended up in the present.  It’s not really a thriller, though it is a taut, suspenseful novel.  Contemporary fiction seems like the best description, since almost anything can fit into that catch-all category. 

Katherine is a sweet girl who bears tremendous guilt over the death of her sister.   She has tried to move on by switching schools, yet she is unable to face the gaping hole in her life and her role in it.  At first, it seems like Alice is helping Katherine deal with this difficult situation, but it becomes clear that Alice is only interested in helping herself.  Her narcissism makes her incredibly destructive; anything that isn’t about her isn’t really worth her time.

The novel is told using different timelines – there’s Katherine in the present, Katherine in the past with Alice, and even before that, Katherine’s sister’s death.  It does jump around a lot, and though it’s usually relatively easy to tell where and when you are, sometimes it can be confusing.  At the same time, though, James heightens the suspense by using this device; it’s done very effectively.

Beautiful Malice isn’t exactly a deep psychological study; it’s much more on the surface, though it is a very interesting portrayal of narcissism.  The subject matter is heavy, but the book itself is a relatively light, quick read.  If you’re in the mood for a suspenseful book whose pages will turn quickly, this novel would be a great one to pick up.  It would also make a good book club read, as it will provoke very mixed opinions and there is a lot to discuss within its pages.

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Comments

  1. This is a book I might have passed by had I not read this review. Sounds a bit creepy — in a good way.

  2. This is a book I might have passed by had I not read this review. Sounds a bit creepy — in a good way.

  3. This does sound like a really good book, and Alice reminds me a lot of Judith in the book Finny. I am going to have to try to grab this one when I see it, as I bet it would make a great read to share with my daughter. Thanks for the lovely review!

  4. This does sound like a really good book, and Alice reminds me a lot of Judith in the book Finny. I am going to have to try to grab this one when I see it, as I bet it would make a great read to share with my daughter. Thanks for the lovely review!

  5. This sounds like my kind of book, and what a great cover!

  6. This sounds like my kind of book, and what a great cover!

  7. I absolutely love any book that features someone with a personality disorder. There is a person I know IRL that is a classic narccisist so it is interesting to see this person come to life on the written page.

  8. I absolutely love any book that features someone with a personality disorder. There is a person I know IRL that is a classic narccisist so it is interesting to see this person come to life on the written page.

  9. This sounds really interesting in a different than normal sort of way. I enjoy GOOD books that deal with behavioral and psych ideas. Sounds good but a little bit thrilly and creepy!

  10. This sounds really interesting in a different than normal sort of way. I enjoy GOOD books that deal with behavioral and psych ideas. Sounds good but a little bit thrilly and creepy!

  11. Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  12. Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  13. I hadn’t heard of this one before but it sounds like one I would like. Great cover as well.

  14. I hadn’t heard of this one before but it sounds like one I would like. Great cover as well.

  15. I tought this novle was a normal fiction at first but I started to a psychological study when I read it

  16. I tought this novle was a normal fiction at first but I started to a psychological study when I read it

  17. This is a wonderful review!!! You should write a book, honestly. and Will read this one after I finish Emma 🙂

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