Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Review: Crazy Beautiful

Crazy Beautiful
Young Adult Contemporary
Houghton Mifflin/September 2009
Library book

From the inside cover ~

"I would give a lot to see that smile again, directed at me. It may not be much, but I would give everything I've got."

In an explosion of his own making, Lucius blew his arms off. Now he has hooks. He chose hooks because they were cheaper. He chose hooks because he wouldn't outgrow them so quickly. He chose hooks so that everyone would know he was different, so he would scare even himself.

Then he meets Aurora. The hooks don't scare her. They don't keep her away. In fact, they don't make any difference at all to her.
But to Lucius, they mean everything. They remind him of the beast he is inside. Perhaps Aurora is his Beauty, destined to set his soul free from its suffering.

Or maybe she's just a girl who needs love just like he does.

A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Lauren Baratz-Logsted's Crazy Beautiful strips away the original tale to get to its essence, revealing truth about forgiveness, redemption, and the power of love.

Crazy Beautiful is a sweet story about two teenagers that seem to come from very different worlds. Both Lucius and Aurora are new to town and new to the local high school. Lucius, his parents and younger sister moved after Lucius blew up their house. The idea was to get a fresh start, away from the rumors and the bad memories. Aurora and her father have started over too. After years of illness, Aurora's mother died from cancer. Aurora's father decides that they need a change, a big one since they not only move into a different house, they move to a different town and school. That part I didn't get. Why make Aurora change schools and leave her friends after losing her mom? I get the moving into a different house. People seem to either want to stay because of the memories or have to leave because of the memories. But I didn't get the changing schools.

Aurora was easy to like. A little naive at times but she is only 15 and has spent the last few years helping take care of her sick mom. She tries to be nice to everyone she meets even if she doesn't really care for them. She falls in with the popular girls at school. She finds herself not too sure of her new friends. They're okay but she doesn't feel close to any of them. She does notice Lucius. She notices that no one wants anything to do with him and he tends to keep to himself. She makes the first move, says hello. It's hard not to be curious about him. The hooks certainly make him stand out but for Aurora it's more than that. There's just something about him that draws Aurora to him.

Lucius is an odd kid and I'm not talking about the hooks. He's very smart, at times he comes across sounding more adult than how I would imagine a 15 year old boy would sound. At other times his insecurities and lack of confidence in himself sound so much like a teenager. There's a part where he goes to the mall with his younger sister and his lack of knowledge of what is "cool" and "in" shows how much he is on the outside of the in crowd. It also shows how it was never that important to him until now, until Aurora.

The story is told in alternating POV of Aurora and Lucius, by chapter with some of the chapters being very short. As for it being the retelling of Beauty and the Beast, yes I can see that but I think the basics of that story can be found in many romances. Lucius, with his hooks, is the Beast and Aurora; smart, pretty and kind is Beauty. There's also the villain, Jessup, the cool guy at school and the one who wants Aurora and teases and torments Lucius. I liked Lucius and Aurora together. They were sweet and the author did a good job of giving that feel of first love. The problem was that they weren't together much. A little bit here, a little bit there. I would have liked to see them interact more.

The reality is that these two teenagers (they're both 15) are recovering from some very traumatic losses. Losses that most teens don't have to experience. I think that's what helps to bring them together. Both Aurora and Lucius are more serious than their peers. They've both suffered loss and are trying to move on. They still have the usual trials of teenagers, they just have a different outlook on certain things. Aurora is not as shallow as her friends and wants to get to know Lucius better. She's curious about his hooks but can also look past those hooks to the boy.

Overall a sweet story of first love and learning to look beyond the surface and find out what's underneath. Some dark moments about Lucius and how he blew off his arms but mostly it's about teenagers and first love. Would I recommend it? Yes, with a but... Yes, if this sounds like a story you would like. The but is that it's hardcover at $16 USD for about 190 pages. To me, that's too much even if you get a discount. But that's just my (cheap) view. :)

Rating: B+


  1. Sounds interesting, and I've been wanting to read more YA. BUT I share your cheap view. I rarely buy hardbacks and when I do it's only for books I just have to get my hands on. I'll wait until this one goes to PB or the library.

  2. Brie ~ It seems like many YA are released as either hc or tpb. I've seen very few mmp so I tend to get mine from the library.

  3. Sounds like a great library read, Leslie. :)

  4. Hils ~ definitely try your library. It's a good, quick read.

  5. Luckily, they have this book at the library! Woohooo :D

    So, do you read these books because your kids read them too? :) (just asking out of curiosity :P)

  6. nath ~ I actually read this before Abby but usually I get the YA books for her and if they interest me I read them. She reads way more than me, I could never keep up with her. :)