Sunday, May 1, 2011

Flawless by Lara Chapman

Grade: B-


Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes, gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny--alright, enormous--flaw. Her nose. But even comparisons to a beak don't bother her much. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame.

But on the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend Kristen falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do. She agrees. For someone so smart, what was she thinking?


Character Development: 6/10
Originality: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 7/10
Plot: 6/10
Setting: 4/10
Total Score: 39/70

Obtained: Free ARC provided by publisher.

Age Appropriate? PG-13

Cursing: Maybe a little.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: References to and scenes of teen drinking.
Sexual Content: Vague references only.
Disturbing Images/Violence: None.


Though charming, there was something a bit off about this book. I appreciated the very well reinforced message about beauty and self-image, and I probably even like the main character. Or would, if I understood anything about her. I feel like her character is developed solely through her relationship with other characters. For instance, I know a lot about her relationship with her mother, with her best friend, and with Rock (the boy), but when I think about it, I can't come up with an image of her, an understanding of her character, a feeling that I know her. Maybe I'm just being picky, but it's kind of unsettling, not being able to form any sort of opinion about the narrator and hero I spent 240 pages listening to.

Flawless is a retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. I love the tale and have never encountered another retelling, so I was excited to see how this was done. It was done well, I guess. But I felt that instead of strengthening or expanding on the story, the Cyrano connection just made it predictable. Despite being based on one of the most famous love stories of all time and being a high-school book, Flawless was incredibly un-dramatic. I mean, stuff happens--important stuff, plot-altering stuff, serious stuff--but it's either dealt with in twenty pages or just accepted (however grudgingly) by the narrator and the story moves on. This continues until the resolution, which is equally anticlimactic, when all the problems just kind of...end.

What irked me by far the most, though, was the weird lack of description. Sure, there was the frequent "She was beautiful, with her long blond hair and blue eyes" or "his muscles stretched taut under his shirt", but honestly, there were no distinguishing features between any of the girls or any of the guys of this story. Also, it was set in "Houston". I am well acquainted with Houston, and half the time the setting I was imagining could have easily been in Oregon or North Carolina or basically anywhere but Houston. Despite references to Houston locations, there was no mention of the terrible humidity or the density of the city or the sounds of traffic. It could have been suburbia, which, if you know Houston, is a ridiculous statement.

However, in spite of my criticisms, the book was fairly enjoyable and satisfying. Though two-dimensional, it did have a good message I thought was conveyed pretty well. Give it a try if it sounds good, but don't expect a life-altering piece of work.


Lara Chapman

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