Every once in a while, I ask my ex-husband to grab me a book from the library while he’s there doing his job hunting. He always grabs random books, but also seems to have really good luck at finding things he thinks I would like. When he brought me Beautiful Malice, by Rebecca James, he told me that he picked it because I always seem to like reading books about girls.
I was immediately put on the defensive. Some of my favorite books are about guys! The Catcher in the Rye? Teenage boy. Running with Scissors? Male. Anything by John Grisham? Always guys.
But I guess that isn’t really the point. I just say it because I was in a grumpy mood when I started reading Beautiful Malice. I like to believe that I am very open-minded and accepting when it comes to my book-picks. I read anything (except the trash I hear Snooki will be writing) and find something to enjoy in pretty much every book I read.
This book opens with the first-person narrator (Katherine) talking about how she wishes she’d gone to Alice’s funeral because she wants to be absolutely sure that Alice is dead. I think James did an excellent job opening her story so that you are immediately pulled in and want to know more about these characters.
The chapters alternate between the present and the things that happened in the past that have shaped who Katherine is at the opening of the book. This provides the reader a lot of “cliffhangers” when one chapter ends, and then you have to read about a different point in time before you go back to what happened after that previous chapter ended. It also puts a lot of mystery in finding out what happened in Katherine’s past, and why she hates Alice so much.
James’ characters are superbly written. Katherine is so heartbreakingly honest, that when you find out all of the details of the tragedy that has shaped her life, it is easy to see why she lived the way she did before she met Alice. You can feel that these are real people, dealing with real emotions, and they don’t always know what to do with them. Later, Alice becomes downright chilling and you learn what lengths people will go to when they don’t know what to do with those emotions building up inside of them.
I fully recommend this book to anyone that loves questions. There are so many questions in this book, and James does an excellent job at keeping you guessing all of the details until the dramatic and climactic ending.