Beautiful Malice: A Novelby Rebecca James
An international sensation that The Wall Street Journal called a “publishing phenomenon,” this layered, poignant, and chilling novel of psychological suspense is the year’s most stunning American fiction debut. From its wrenching opening to its shocking climax, Beautiful Malice unfolds a haunting story in which people, motives, and/b>/i>… See more details below
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An international sensation that The Wall Street Journal called a “publishing phenomenon,” this layered, poignant, and chilling novel of psychological suspense is the year’s most stunning American fiction debut. From its wrenching opening to its shocking climax, Beautiful Malice unfolds a haunting story in which people, motives, and circumstances are never what they seem.
Who is Katherine Patterson? It is a question she hopes no one can answer. To erase her past, Katherine has moved to a new city, enrolled in a new school, and even changed her name. She’s done the next best thing to disappearing altogether. Now, wary and alone, she seeks nothing more than anonymity. What she finds instead is the last thing she expected: a friend.
Even more unlikely, Katherine’s new friend is the most popular and magnetic girl in school. Extroverted, gorgeous, flirtatious, and unpredictable, she is everything that Katherine is not and doesn’t want to be: the center of attention. Yet Alice’s enthusiasm is infectious, her candor sometimes unsettling, and Katherine, in spite of her guarded caution, finds herself drawn into Alice’s private circle.
But Alice has secrets, too—darker than anyone can begin to imagine. And when she lets her guard down at last, Katherine discovers the darkest of them all. For there will be no escaping the past for Katherine Patterson—only a descent into a trap far more sinister . . . and infinitely more seductive.
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Read an Excerpt
“Do you want to come?”
Alice Parrie is looking down, smiling. It’s lunchtime and I’m sitting beneath a tree, alone, absorbed in a book.
“Sorry.” I shade my eyes and look up. “Come where?”
Alice hands me a piece of paper.
I take it and read. It’s a brightly colored photocopy of an invitation to Alice’s eighteenth birthday party. Come one and come all!! Bring your friends!! it reads. Free champagne! Free food! Only someone as popular and as self- assured as Alice would issue such an invitation; anyone more ordinary would feel as if she was begging for guests. Why me? I wonder. I know of Alice, everyone knows of Alice, but I’ve never spoken to her before. She is one of those girls— beautiful, popular, impossible to miss.
I fold the invitation in half and nod. “I’ll try. It sounds like fun,” I lie.
Alice looks at me for a few seconds. Then she sighs and plonks herself down next to me, so close that one of her knees rests heavily against mine.
“You will not.” She grins.
I feel my cheeks begin to color. Even though my entire life can sometimes feel like a façade, a wall of secrets, I’m not good at lying. I look down at my lap. “Probably not.”
“But I want you to come, Katherine,” she says. “It’d really mean a lot to me.”
I’m surprised that Alice even knows my name, but it’s even more surprising—in fact, quite unbelievable—that she wants me to come to her party. I’m practically unknown at Drummond High and have no close friends. I come and go quietly, alone, and get on with my studies. I try to avoid bringing attention to myself. I do well enough, but my grades aren’t exceptional. I play no sport, have joined no clubs. And though I know I can’t do this forever—live my entire life as a shadow—for now it’s okay. I’m hiding, I know that, I’m being a coward, but right now I need to be invisible, to be the kind of person who arouses no curiosity in others. That way they never need to know who I really am, or what has happened.
I close my book and start to pack away my lunch things.
“Wait.” Alice puts her hand on my knee. I look at her as coldly as I can, and she withdraws it. “I’m serious. I really do want you to come. And I think what you said to Dan last week was fantastic. I really wish I could think of things like that to say, but I never can. I’m just not quick enough. You know, I never would have thought about that woman’s feelings like that. Not until I heard you tell Dan off. I mean, you were great, what you said was just so right, and you really showed him up to be the moron that he is.”
I know immediately what Alice is referring to—the one and only time I’d let my guard down, momentarily forgotten myself. I don’t often confront people anymore. In fact, it’s something I try very hard to avoid. But the way Dan Johnson and his friends had behaved two weeks ago had disgusted me so much that I couldn’t help myself. We had a guest speaker talking about career planning and college admissions. Sure, the speech was boring, we’d heard it all a billion times before, and the speaker was nervous and stuttered and hesitated and talked in confusing circles, only becoming worse as the crowd became noisier, more restless. Dan Johnson and his group of creepy friends had spotted their opportunity. They were so cruel and deliberately disruptive that the woman ended up leaving in humiliated tears. When it was all over, I stood behind Dan in the hallway and tapped him on the shoulder.
Dan turned around with a smug, self- satisfied look on his face, clearly anticipating some kind of approbation for his behavior.
“Did it ever occur to you,” I started, my voice surprisingly strong, fueled by anger, “how much you’ve hurt that woman? This is her life, Daniel, her career, her professional reputation. Your pathetic cry for attention means a whole lot of humiliation for her. I feel sorry for you, Daniel. You must be very sad and small inside to need to hurt someone like that, someone you don’t even know.”
“You were amazing,” Alice continues. “And to be honest, I was totally surprised. I mean, I think everyone was. No one speaks to Dan like that.” She shakes her head. “No one.”
Well, I do, I think. At least the real me does.
“It was admirable. Courageous.”
And it’s that word that does it: courageous. I so want to be courageous. I so want the coward in me to be obliterated and smashed and destroyed that I can no longer resist Alice.
I stand up and hook my bag over my shoulder. “Okay,” I say, surprising myself. “Okay, I’ll come.”
Alice insists that we get ready for the party together. She picks me up in her car, a battered old Volkswagen, shortly after lunch on the day of the party and takes me to her place. She lives alone, she tells me as she speeds along, weaving in and out of lanes, in a onebedroom apartment in the inner city. I’m surprised by this, astonished really. I’d imagined that someone like Alice would live in a comfortable house in the suburbs with her devoted parents. I’d imagined her being spoiled, pampered, coddled (just as I used to be), and the fact that she lives alone makes her suddenly seem more interesting, more complicated than I’ve given her credit for. It’s clear that Alice and I have more in common than I’d imagined.
I want to ask her a million questions: Where are her parents? How does she afford her own apartment? Is she ever afraid? Is she lonely? But I keep quiet. I have secrets of my own. I’ve learned that asking questions only puts me at risk of being interrogated myself. It is safer not to be too curious about others, safer not to ask.
Her apartment is in a square, very ordinary- looking brick building. The stairwell is dark and uninviting, but when we get to her apartment, breathless after jogging up four flights of stairs, she opens the door to a room full of color and warmth.
The walls are a deep burnt orange and are decorated with large, bright abstract paintings. Two enormous, soft- looking couches are draped with burgundy fabric and strewn with colorful African cushions. Unlit candles cover every horizontal surface.
“Voilà! My humble abode.” Alice tugs me inside and watches my face expectantly as I look around the room. “What do you think? I did it all myself, you know. You should have seen it when I moved in, so boring and plain. It’s amazing what a bit of color can do to a room, isn’t it? A little creativity and some bright paint is all you really need.”
“This is so cool,” I say. And I can’t help but feel a little envious. Alice’s space is so funky, so much younger than the modern, minimalist apartment I live in.
“Really? You really like it?”
“Yes.” I laugh. “I really do.”
“I’m so glad. I want you to like it as much as I do because I plan for us to spend a lot of time together. And I can see us spending a lot of time right here, in this room, talking and talking and talking, sharing our precious secrets deep into the night.”
I’ve heard that charming, powerful people have the knack of making you feel as though you’re the only person in the world, and now I know exactly what that means. I’m not quite sure what she does, or how she does it—another person would have come across as overly eager; obsequious, even—but when Alice gives me her attention like that, I feel golden, warm with the certainty that I’m fully understood.
For a brief, insane moment, I imagine telling her my secret. I picture it all clearly. Me and Alice in this room—both a little tipsy, both giggly and happy and ever so slightly self- conscious with the feeling you have when you’ve made a new friend, a special friend—I put my hand on her knee so that she is still and quiet, so that she knows I’m about to say something important, and then I tell her. I tell her quickly, without pausing, without meeting her eyes. And when I’ve finished, she is warm and forgiving and understanding, as I hoped she’d be. She hugs me. Everything is all right and I am lighter for having told. I am free.
But this is all just a dream. A crazy fantasy. I tell her nothing.
I’m wearing my usual jeans and boots and shirt, and I’ve brought some makeup with me to put on before we go to the party, but Alice insists that I wear a dress. Her closet is bursting with them, in all sorts of colors and lengths and styles. There must be at least a hundred, and some still have tags. I wonder where she gets the money, how she affords so many clothes, and I’m tempted, once again, to ask.
“I have a bit of a clothing habit.” She grins.
“Really?” I joke. “I would never have known.”
Alice reaches into the closet and starts pulling out dresses. She tosses them on the bed.
“Here. Choose one. I haven’t even worn most of these.” She holds up a blue one. “You like?”
The dress is pretty, but I’ve already spotted the one I’d really like to wear. It’s red and patterned in paisley, a wraparound dress with a tie waist, made from some kind of stretchy fabric. It looks like something my mother might have worn in the 1970s and would go nicely with the tall boots I’m wearing.
Alice is watching me. She laughs and pulls out the red dress.
“It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?” She presses it against herself and looks in the mirror. “Expensive, too. It’s a Pakbelle and Kanon. You have good taste.”
“It’s beautiful. But why don’t you wear it tonight? It’s still got the tag on it, you’ve never even worn it. You were probably saving it—”
“Nope. I’m wearing something else. Something special.” Alice holds it up in front of me. “Try it on.”
The dress fits perfectly and, as I suspected, goes well with my boots. The red flatters my dark skin and hair, and I smile at Alice happily in the reflection of the mirror. I’m excited now, glad that I agreed to come.
Alice goes to the kitchen and takes a bottle from her fridge. It’s champagne. It’s pink.
“Yum,” she says, kissing the bottle. “My one true love.”
She opens the bottle, aiming the cork at the ceiling, and, without asking if I want any, pours us each a glass. She takes hers into the bathroom to shower and dress, and when she’s gone I lift my glass and take a tiny sip. I haven’t had alcohol since the night my family was destroyed. Not a drop. But then, I haven’t enjoyed myself with a friend since that night, either, and so I tip the glass up to my mouth again and let myself enjoy the feel of the bubbles against my lips, on my tongue. I let another small mouthful slide down my throat and imagine that I can feel the effect instantly, the alcohol rushing through my veins, making my lips tingle, my head spin. The champagne is sweet and easy to drink, like a cordial, and I have to force myself not to swallow it all too quickly.
I savor each mouthful, enjoying the way my body relaxes more and more as I drink. When the glass is empty I am happier, lighter, almost carefree—a normal seventeen- year- old—and I curl up on Alice’s colorful sofa and giggle at nothing at all. And I’m still just sitting there, smiling, enjoying the comfortable heaviness of my body, when Alice returns to the room.
“Wow. Alice. You look . . .” I shrug, unable to find an adequate word. “You look stunning!”
She lifts her arms and spins on her toes. “Why, thank you, Miss Katherine.” She’s pleased.
Alice is beautiful, strikingly beautiful. She is tall, with generous breasts and long, shapely legs, and her face is a picture of perfection: her eyes a deep and glorious blue, her skin golden and luminous.
I’m not exactly ugly, but beside Alice I feel completely unremarkable. While we’re waiting for our taxi, Alice takes our empty glasses to the kitchen and refills them with champagne. As I stand up to get my glass, my head spins a little. It’s not an unpleasant feeling—in fact, I feel easy and loose and relaxed. And this feeling, this light- headed happiness, this sense that the world is a benign and friendly place, is suddenly very familiar and I realize just how much this feeling terrifies me. It’s the trick that alcohol plays with your mind—enticing you to let your guard down, to trust the world to look after you— but I know that this feeling of safety is only a dangerous illusion. Alcohol encourages you to take risks that you wouldn’t normally; alcohol means you make stupid choices. And more than anyone, I know how devastating the consequences of a single bad choice can be. I live with those consequences every day.
I accept the glass but I only pretend to sip it, barely letting the liquid wet my lips, and when the taxi arrives I pour the rest of it down the sink.
Alice has rented the ballroom at the top of the Lion Hotel. It is huge and grand, with enormous windows and magnificent views of the city. There are white balloons, white tablecloths, a band. There are caterers polishing champagne glasses, and platters of expensivelooking finger food. And because it’s a private party, nobody asks us for ID when Alice gets us each a glass of champagne.
“This is fantastic.” I look at Alice curiously. “Did your parents do all this for you?”
“No.” Alice snorts dismissively. “They wouldn’t know how to host a barbecue, let alone something like this.”
“Do they live in the city?” I ask.
“Who?” She frowns.
“No. No, they don’t, thank God. They live north of here.” I wonder how Alice can afford to live here in the city, how she pays her rent. I had assumed that her parents supported her, but that now seems unlikely.
“Anyway,” I say. “It’s very nice of you to throw a big party like this for your friends. I don’t think I could ever be so generous. I’d rather spend the money on myself. A trip around the world or something cool like that.”
“Generous? You think so?” Alice shrugs. “Not really. I love parties. Particularly when they’re all about me. I couldn’t think of anything better. And, anyway, I’m not interested in traveling.”
“I don’t know anyone there; nobody knows me. What would be the point?”
“Oh.” I laugh. I wonder if she’s joking. “I can think of a few good things about it. Swimming in the Mediterranean, seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, the Statue of Liberty . . . and not knowing anyone. Imagine how liberating that must be.” I notice that Alice is looking at me skeptically. “Are you really not tempted by that?”
“Nah. I like it here. I like my friends. I love my life. Why would I want to leave?”
“Because—” I am going to tell her of my intense curiosity about the rest of the world, the fascination I have with different languages and ways of living, with the history of the human race, but we are interrupted by the arrival of her first guests.
“Alice, Alice!” they cry, and she is suddenly surrounded by people, some I recognize from school, older people I’ve never seen before. Some are dressed very formally, in long dresses and suits and ties, others are dressed casually, in jeans and T-shirts, but they all have one thing in common: they all want a piece of Alice, a moment of her time; they want to be the focus of her attention, make her laugh. They all, without exception, want her to like them.
And Alice is the perfect hostess. She makes all her guests feel welcome and comfortable, but for some reason it’s me that she chooses to spend most of the evening with. She keeps her arm linked through mine, drags me from group to group, and involves me in every conversation. We dance together and gossip about what different people are wearing, who they are flirting with, who seems to be attracted to whom. I have a wonderful time. It’s more fun than I’ve had in years. And while I’m there I don’t think of my sister once, nor of my devastated parents. I dance and laugh and flirt. I forget, temporarily, about the night I realized the awful truth about myself. I forget all about the night I discovered the shameful, grubby coward at the core of my soul.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Meet the Author
Rebecca James was born in Sydney and spent her twenties teaching English in Indonesia and Japan. She currently lives in Armidale, Australia, with her partner and their four sons. She is at work on her next novel, to be published by Bantam.
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During lunch at a Sydney high school, popular Alice Parrie invites a stunned bookworm Katherine to attend her eighteenth birthday bash. Alice explains it was the way Katherine ripped the skin off Dan Johnson for being nasty and little when a nervous woman gave a talk about the future. Four years plus since the party that changed her life and her surname, Katherine prays no one learns just who single mom Katherine Boydell raising Sarah was once. The tragedy of Alice is too mindful of the tragedies of Katherine's murdered sister Rachel and Sarah's father Mick; as the flamboyant teen drew out the dark secrets of her reticent new BFF. Thus then pregnant Katherine Boydell nee Patterson failed to attend Alice's funeral; she believes Aunt Philippa is at her side encouraging her to move passed the lingering grief she feels. This is an odd exciting psychological thriller starting with the opening stunning hook "I didn't go to Alice's funeral. I was pregnant at the time, crazy and wild with grief". From that moment readers will want to know who Katherine is and what did happen to all those in her sphere who died. Rotating between the present and four years ago, readers who appreciate a character driven thriller with limited action will want to know what happened to Katherine four years ago. Harriet Klausner
I don't know that it's meant to be read this way, but Beautiful Malice was a great mystery. The entire story is told in flashbacks. Katherine, an adult with a young daughter, is looking back on her senior year of high school when she met and knew Alice. Eventually her teenage self is remembering and telling Alice about the events leading up to Rachel's death. In both scenarios, the reader should, on some level, know how the story ends: Katherine grows up and has a child; Rachel dies. And yet, I never felt impatient waiting for that end to come. In fact, there were plenty of points in the senior year storyline when I was sure that things could not possibly end the way adult Katherine seemed to imply that they would. Moreover, when the endings finally did come they were plenty twisted, making them surprising even if they really do amount to Katherine growing up and having a child and Rachel dying. The bulk of the story is set during Katherine's senior year of high school, specifically when she is befriended by Alice. Katherine is Katherine, rather than Katie, because she is trying to move on in her life past Rachel's death, but it is still a big part of her. It takes a really long time for Katherine to open up to anyone, including the reader, about what happened to Rachel, and yet I wasn't annoyed by not knowing. From almost the beginning, I knew Katherine was dealing with some serious survivor guilt, but as her recollections of Rachel slowly unfolded, it became clear that her guilt went beyond just the guilt of still being alive. Katherine feels truly responsible for Rachel's death, and because her story of what really happened the night Rachel died is so drawn out, it looks like she just might be. She's dealing with all of this while she slowly gets sucked into Alice's world. Alice, by the way, is the mayor of crazytown. She's fun-crazy in the beginning, always managing to have alcohol and a party to go to (and an awesome dress to wear to it, and one for you to borrow besides). She lives in an apartment of her own, paid for by her birth mother who feels guilty that Alice was adopted by hicks. She seems so grown-up and exotic to Katherine, who used to be a more suburban version of her. Alice drags Katherine back into the social scene she should have always inhabited, introduces her to new people and experiences, gains her complete trust and (for a while) adoration, and then goes crazy-crazy. When Katherine stops worshiping the ground Alice walks on and gets her own friends, Alice becomes possessive and stalker-y. It's pretty scary, and the lengths she goes to (and why) left me speechless. I think Beautiful Malice will be devoured by readers looking for more thriller in their mysteries, but be warned that though Alice and Katherine are teenagers for most of the story, they have very few "typical" teen experiences. They're never in school, they hang out in bars, and they date grown men. I'm not saying that this book is inappropriate, because really, there's nothing graphic or too "adult" going on, but it's certainly not set in high school, even if the main characters are technically high schoolers. Book source: Review copy from the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
From my book review website Reader's Enchantment (http://readersenchantment.blogspot.com/) I really enjoyed Beautiful Malice. I found Rebecca James's writing to be authentic, especially when it comes to teenage friendships and the newly termed "frenemy." This story begins with a haunting phrase ("I didn't go to Alice's funereal.") and moves on from there back and forth through time. In alternating chapters of the present, the distant past and the time Katherine spends with Alice, the reader begins to slowly understand that something is not quite right with Katherine, that she has secrets and no one suspects her true story. Katherine Patterson is a senior in high school, and she's new at her school, without many friends. So she's surprised when popular Alice invites her to a party and persuades the reluctant girl to attend. Alice introduces Katherine to her boyfriend Robbie, and together the three of them form a friendship and spend a lot of time together. Alice has some moments of incredible cruelty, but both Katherine and Robbie brush them aside when "sweet" Alice pleads for forgiveness time and again. Katherine eventually reveals her secret: she was once Katie Boydell, the girl who had a sister and was involved in a devastating crime that was splattered over the media. She changed her name and moved to a new city so she could have a chance at a normal senior year of high school. Through Alice, meets several other new friends, and these friends come to her aid when Alice suddenly turns on Katherine. Alice will not let their friendship die away; instead, she begins to stalk Katherine and confronts her in public places. Alice's behavior grows increasingly erratic, and while most would call the police for help, Katherine simply feels sorry for Alice and walks away from her every time. The eventual outcome is, for me, unexpected and deeply sad. There is so much heartbreak from a heinous crime, and the different possibilities of how a person moves on with their lives is illustrated well by the author. The characters are well written and their interaction is authentic. Because the author is Australian, I was afraid the setting would be too unfamiliar for me to connect with; instead, she writes a story that could happen anywhere. I'm not crazy about the cover of the book. There are some really awesome covers of books coming out in the next couple of months, and I don't think "Beautiful Malice" will be able to stand out in a bookstore. My only complaint about the novel is that the characters are still in high school. Katherine is only 17, and the birthday party Alice invited her to was to celebrate turning 18. I feel the maturity of the characters and their actions would have been more believable if they had all been in college, in their early 20s. However, I know that in Katherine's case, living through a tragedy can "age" anyone, so this is a very minor complaint. Overall, I think this is a very good book, one I rated as 4.5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend this book to YA readers who may need a break from all the heavily published paranormal titles. This would also be a good book for readers in college since the characters are so mature, it won't have a feel of returning to the high school scene they just graduated from. Look for it in store July 13, 2010.
I couldn't put this book down! I had to keep reading this story grabs you from the first line and doesn't let you go! The Characters are great and the writing truly makes you feel their pain and happiness. I did figure Alice out early on but it didn't stop me from being enthralled in this book and its characters. Alice will keep you guessing you know from the beginning that something awful is going to happen with her and that adds to the tension of the book. Our protagonist is Katherine and she is dealing with the death of her sister and is trying to figure out how to live with the grief and guilt of the whole situation. She is a character full of raw emotion and I felt for her the whole way through. The supporting cast is also great you feel for Robbie and yell at him to run away run away. But I've seen people in situations like this who stay with people who treat them bad and keep going back for more so for me it was very true to life. I enjoyed the ending and was glad it worked out that way after everything these characters had been through. This is a great psychological thriller I would recommend to Young Adults and Adults alike! 4 1/2 Stars Full Disclosure- I received this book through Librarything Early Reviewers Program-Thank-You!
What an absolutely fantastic read! I was lucky enough to win this book through early reviewers and when I opened it I could not put it down! I normally have two or three books going at once, but this one took precedence until I was able to finish it! In Beautiful Malice, you think Katherine has suffered enough by losing her younger sister---but fate had much more in store for her. The story was mesmerizing!! You learn the events by flashing between the horrible night of Rachel's death, the current day events of Katherine, and the main story that explains the connection of the two. There is even an unbelievable twist thrown in to just push you over the edge! Congratulations to Rebecca James on what is certainly an unforgettable story! I will keep her name in my memory for future works
This boo was not my favorite at all. At first it was good because you want to know what happens to Katherine's sister and friend,Alice,. However, after you find out what happens to Katherine's sister everything just drags on and it seems like the author was just trying to find new plot twist just so the story would go on after the huge twist. It wasn't well written I was very much let down.
I was not sure what to expect. But the fullness of character for both Alice and Katherine was sublime. Enough for me to enjoy as was given. But the shock, guilt and eventual awakening by all, after the twists and turns provided by Alice, kept me hooked. I knew something would happen but didn't expect the twisted demise. It was perfect, really.
It just doesnt make any sense ... we have these 17 year old kids who are out drinking, never going to school, and living on their own with their bills very well paid for them - yet at the same time they are going through these very adult situations - You know from the start that Katies best friend is going to die - then shortly after that you relize the father of her baby is going to die by end of the book - her friends mom is dead - you have to read about the awful stuff her sister went through, and then be reminded of it over and over and over because she just cant deal with it and is constantly beating herself up over it - its just depressing - BUT I will say that I love Rebecca James writing - thats the only reason I gave it two stars - the begining of the book really made me belive the end would be amazing BUT it was so stupid - I expected so much more - total waste of time
Best book ever
Great book, couldn't put it down, has some tough emotional parts but a really amazing and interesting book. keeps your attention and keeps you guess. definently makes you think about it.
Katherine Patterson is a girl with a secret. A secret she wants to keep that way; so much so that she is a loner in her new school. But she brings attention to herself after making a remark to another classman that brings her to the attention of Alice. Alice seems to be the most popular girl in school and wants to be Katherine's friend. We watch as their friendship develops. But Alice has secrets of her own and Alice is a psychopath. The book builds you up to Katherine's secret and why she tries to hide her past. But all the buildup and the relationship between the girls made this story an okay read, but not something that made me say "wow".
Though some people may have found the jumping around confusing or just all our irritating, it seemed to only strengthen the suspense for me and kept me flipping through the pages, reading like a maniac. I think the skipping around worked well for this particular story because it kept giving you clues and insight into each of the times. While you know Alice dies, you don't know about Alice - so you get more into the time when Katherine and Alice become friends. While Katherine is grieving, you don't exactly know how and why her sister was killed - so you get chapters sporadically on the day that Rachel was killed. Honestly, all three time lines build up and come to the perfect conclusion(s) at the perfect time at the end of the book. All loose ends are completely tied. *I think one problem that some people had was the actual location the book was set. I have an ARC, so I don't know if it's fixed in the final version - but I've heard that the book was set in Australia, but for some reason they decided to take out those references for the US copies? I'm not sure how true all of that is. I can understand the confusion, but specific locations (ie- cities, states, countries) never bothered me as long as the setting is drawn out well. The characters were fleshed out well and kept to their own persona. Katherine was a heroine with a very tragic past, but I think that she handled her situations well, given the circumstance. Alice was definitely a mental-case, and you definitely love to hate her. Her friend with Katherine is certainly what I would call a toxic friendship - it's not a healthy relationship, but you can't help but somehow you just can't seem to let go. I love how James handled this with Katherine and Alice. Katherine's reasons for holding onto her friendship with Alice was realistic and something you can empathize with if you've ever been in that type of relationship before. Philippa comes into the story a little later on. She's a great female character that becomes the healthy (read: not psychotic) best friend of Katherine. I love Philippa. She's a keeper. Then there are the two main boys: Robbie and Mick. I fell in love with both! Robbie has a very rocky relationship with Alice - another toxic one - and it takes something extreme for him to break ties with her. His friendship with Katherine grows and I'm glad they were able to find one another and become strong friends. Mick is also another lovable character. He's the love interest for Katherine and he's pretty much an "A" in my book. The story between those two is so very bittersweet. I'll have to admit that I guessed Alice's intentions about half-way through the book. That didn't stop me from reading, though. Rachel's death was a little graphic and some of the scenes were hard to read, but I think they were necessary and it gives you a better feel of what Katherine witnessed and how it ended up
This book is a real eye opener. From the very first line, I was hooked and drawn into this dark world. This book is so messed up. I kept getting angry and upset reading this book. but of course, all of this in a good way. Reading this book made me see how ugly the world can be at times. That there are people out there that are cruel and cold and would do anything for their own game, using anyone and anything. This book is written perfectly. I was amazed over and over again reading all the things that happen to Katherine. I am amazed that after all that she went through, she is still a good person. I would imagine anyone else who went through that would just be bitter and angry, but not her. She made the best of what she had. I was glad that the end of the book was ended on a good note of hope and love. At first I thought it would end leaving me hanging, but if left me satisfied. Ms. James wrote a dark, angst, suspenseful book full of turns, emotions and a lot of unexpected surprises. This book is so good, I read it quickly. This book also contains cursing, sexual activities, and lots of backstabbing! If you want to read a dark, angst, book that can definitely happen in real life, read this. You will not be disappointed.
I wouldn't say this was my favorite book of the summer. But I would say it was a good quick read. I did get captivated in the characters and wanted to know why Alice was such a lost soul wanting so much attention. Finding out the tragedy that Katherine went through did not need to take so long through the book. The story flips from the past to the future, but keeping you wanting to find out why the characters end up where they were. I liked the twist at the end to finally realize why Katherine in the beginning of the book did not go to Alice's funeral.
As originally posted on my blog Ticket to Anywhere Where to start... There were just so many things about Beautiful Malice that did not work for me. First lets start with the setting. For the most part the setting is unclear, ambiguous but then the main characters all go for this weekend holiday in a town located in New South Wales, Australia. I was like...yes...finally a clear setting and one that makes the language of the book make sense. Australians just have a slightly different way of speaking than Americans - the cadences of words are just different. But then when the gang meets up with Ben - the author makes a point to say that he was Australian and that one reason why Alice dated him was for his accent. That just baffled me as by this point I thought they were all Australian. Then a few pages later Ben is telling a story and mentions when he first came to the state....and I just went huh? It didn't make sense since the only place that was ever mentioned was a place location in Australia - and living stateside you don't exactly make a weekend trip to Australia....especially when you're trying to keep things on the cheap. Note: in talking with another blogger who read the Australian version of the book the setting was very clearly stated as Sydney, Australia...so it seems that for whatever reason the American publisher decided to try and remove those references. But moving on...lets talk about sequence and the flow of time. This book has three distinct time periods in them and there is no real rhyme or reason to the authors jumping from one to another. The changes just became this jumbled mess for me which would knock me out of the story. I believe it was done as a way to try to heighten the suspense and make the thrills more thrilling as random bits and pieces of the past, present and future were revealed. But my suspense wasn't heightened the odd changes just annoyed me more than anything else. Especially during those times with the perspective of the book would change. For the bulk of the book the story was told in first person but every so often the I's would change to you's and it never really worked for me. Then there is the plot. The very first line tells you exactly what happens to Alice there is no suspense there. No shock. The story is just so flat and bland and I figured out what all the big reveals where before they were made official. The characters also all came across as flat and one dimensional. Alice was narcissistic and crazy and she appeared so form the start...she then just spirals out of control and it just doesn't ring true. Katherine is a girl trying to escape her past by forgetting it and when things get hard or rough she just turns her back on the darkness and tries to pretend it doesn't exist. This is not healthy behavior and not something that you want to do when the person you are trying to forget is crazy. This book didn't work for me on so many levels and its not one that I can recommend. Beautiful Malice is also a book that is often billed as Young Adult but I don't get the YA vibe from it when I read it. The phrasing and the way the characters speak (in their bad dialogue scenes) is way more adult than teen. What about you...have you read Beautiful Malice? What did you think of it? Let me know if the comments below. As originally posted on my blog Ticket to Anywhere