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Beautiful Decay

Beautiful Decay

4.0 4
by Sylvia Lewis

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Things have a way of falling apart around Ellie Miller. Literally. With a touch that rots, she keeps everyone at a distance—for others' safety as much as her own comfort.

When newcomer Nate MacPherson makes it his mission to get close to Ellie, she does her best to steer clear. But as Nate reveals an unusual ability of his own, Ellie recognizes a


Things have a way of falling apart around Ellie Miller. Literally. With a touch that rots, she keeps everyone at a distance—for others' safety as much as her own comfort.

When newcomer Nate MacPherson makes it his mission to get close to Ellie, she does her best to steer clear. But as Nate reveals an unusual ability of his own, Ellie recognizes a kindred spirit who could accept her for who she is . . . if she lets him.

As family secrets unravel, Ellie will have to discover the beauty within her reach in order to save the ones she loves.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Fans of paranormal will flock to Lewis' fast-paced debut that offers a unique take on being different."

School Library Journal
"The plot is compelling and fast paced. Teens will relate to Ellie's feelings of being different and her craving for human contact."

“An intriguing story with elements of both paranormal and horror . . . Ellie is a strong character who has to overcome feelings of self-revulsion if she every hopes to make a connection with others. While her situation is unique, many teens will certainly be able to identify with her struggle to find the beauty in herself and her abilities. Will there be a sequel? I certainly hope so.”

Addictive Reading blog
"[An] amazing, compelling, wonderfully written book."

Me on Books blog
"[An] intriguing look at a rather intriguing and rather complicated girl."

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This moving paranormal horror novel is simultaneously creepy and uplifting. Everyone knows about 17-year-old Ellie's "condition." A touch of her bare skin can cause anyone or anything to decay. No one wants to be near her, even though she wears gloves to avoid contact with anyone. Even her mother is terrified and spends her time fanatically cleaning the house with bleach or out volunteering. Ellie sees her lawyer father even less. Things at school improve when Nate, the new guy, seems more curious than grossed out by her. Ellie is surprised that from the moment they meet he can tell that she has an "ability." That's because he has one too. Ellie is drawn to him and finds that Nate's family life is even worse than hers. His mother has issues, and the ruthless people his deceased father worked for want Nate to follow in his footsteps. Ellie finds the strength she didn't know she had to break away from her lonely, "bleached and gloved" existence to help him. The plot is compelling and fast paced. Teens will relate to Ellie's feelings of being different and her craving for human contact. Fans of Catherine Zinks's The Reformed Vampire Support Group (Harcourt, 2009), Lish McBride's Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Holt, 2010), or Holly Black's White Cat (S & S, 2010) will find a lot to like here.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton

Product Details

Running Press Book Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
File size:
546 KB
Age Range:
7 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Sylvia Lewis lives in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, with two cats and a snail. When not writing, she can be found reading, exploring local parks, or spending way too much time on the internet—sometimes all of the above simultaneously. She loves katydids, the color green, and anything rose flavored. Beautiful Decay is her first novel.

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Beautiful Decay 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
Ever since reading the premise for Beautiful Decay by author Sylvia Lewis I was seriously dying to start reading. I admit that what really had me interested was that the main character has a touch that can rot things (which instantly had me thinking of Typhoid from the Elektra movie) and that there would probably be some romance tossed into the mix. The novel sounded like something I would definitely fall in love with and guess what? I did! Beautiful Decay focuses on the life of main character Elizabeth “Ellie” Miller who, for as long as she can remember, has had a touch that can rot through anything. Ellie’s ability is transmit through her hands and so to protect the world (and people) around her from withering away to nothing almost instantly, Ellie wears a pair of gloves. Everybody around Ellie thinks that she is a freak and cruelly gave her the nickname “Typhoid Mary”. Everybody is afraid of Ellie, including her own mother.  It’s not until she walks into class one day and everything changes: The new boy in school, Nate MacPherson, sits down next to her. Nate reveals to Ellie that everything she has ever believed about her ability is wrong. He explains to her that her touch is not a curse but is really a gift and one that, if used properly, can change the lives of people for the better. However Nate also reveals to Ellie that he also isn’t what he seems: He is a necromancer, a person that can work with death. Ellie is a viviomancer, somebody that can work with life. Ellie learns that there is a whole community of necromancers and viviomancer but that to exploit their abilities is practically asking for a death sentence. It’s with Nate that Ellie learns the lengths that her abilities can go to and discovers just what the world she was meant to exist in is really about. I really loved getting to be inside of Ellie’s head because her entire life is just plain traumatic. Everybody is afraid of her, her own mother is afraid of her and is in denial about Ellie’s situation—and Ellie’s self-esteem is practically non-existent. Everybody uses Ellie as a punching bag despite the fact that she could give them flesh eating diseases before they could even notice it ever happened. Everybody keeps her at a distance and I loved it when Nate’s character tried to fix that problem in Ellie’s life. Suddenly she isn’t so alone and Nate, awkward, cute and somewhat inappropriate, as he may be was definitely somebody that I’m glad Ellie fell in love with. The two of them are in the same boat, you know? Beautiful Decay is unique. I haven’t read a novel like it before, I mean I’ve read novels about necromancers and all that jazz before but never has there been a novel like Beautiful Decay before. All I could think while reading the novel was how cool the necromancer and viviomancer powers were and how badly I wanted Ellie to learn to control her ability and get to touch another human being. The cool thing about Beautiful Decay would have to be the necromancers and their zombies. The zombies in this novel aren’t the type you’d see on/in The Walking Dead, they still have parts of their soul… until they get too hungry and want to do nothing but tear other people open. The one zombie that we get to meet in the novel was creepy and in the scenes where she is presented as a hungry beast had me hanging on the edge of my seat. The descriptions used in the novel during the suspenseful scenes were great. I would constantly be biting my nails and worrying for Ellie or any characters involved in certain scenes. I’d always be worried for her and because everything was written so clearly I could easily imagine the way a character would look or the setting or how something scary would go to something terrifying. Honestly I adored the writing in Beautiful Decay and I hope that there is a sequel because the ending has left me just… dying for more (was that a pun?  I think it was a pun). I’d recommend Beautiful Decay to readers that are looking for a paranormal novel that they’ll fall in love with, readers that want a novel that will teach them about self-reliance and those of us who are just looking for an addicting read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't even question buying this book! Buy It! It' amazing in bith story and understanding of teenage feeling! I cannot stress this enough: BUY THE BOOK!
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
When Ellie Miller touches things--people, furniture, paper--they begin to rot. Her bare hands can leave trails of mold of spawn infectious bacteria. She doesn't know why she has this condition or how to control it. All she knows is that she is dangerous and, as far as everyone is concerned, has an "immune disorder." Right. Compared to her anti-septic house and terrified parents, school could almost be considered a relief. At least it could if Ellie wasn't simultaneously bullied and ostracized. Luckily, the Internet can keep Ellie's secrets so she is able to have online friends like Mackenzie who loves her unconditionally. Although Mackenzie also doesn't know the details of Ellie's condition. No one does. Except a new guy shows up at school and he does seem to know about Ellie. Instead of being afraid or dismissive, Nate acts like he wants to know her. Nate seems to recognize what she can do and maybe even know what how to control it, that is if Ellie can even stand to talk to him in Beautiful Decay (2013) by Sylvia Lewis. Beautiful Decay is an interesting take on the world of necromancers and their rarer counterparts viviomancers.* There is definitely a lot more to both Nate and Ellie than raising the dead or hanging out with zombies. A slow start only serves to underscore just how much action there is in the latter parts of the story as Ellie learns more about herself and begins to connect more with Nate and Mackenzie. Although the pacing is off--the story could easily have started fifty pages in and added somewhat more closure at the end--the plot is solid and fairly entertaining. That said, descriptions of the decomposition left in Ellie's wake is disgusting. Beautifully written but also very gross. While it was a turn off for me at times, it will likely be very appealing to readers who might otherwise shy away from a book that hints at romance (or has a female narrator). References to the Harry Potter fandom, recent Marvel movies and Tumblr might also draw readers in. These elements also have the potential to date the novel fairly quickly. Beautiful Decay is a thoughtful, often clever novel that hints at more to come about Ellie, Mackenzie and Nate. *According to this book anyway. I have no idea if viviomancers are a real thing. Although it would be cool if they turned up in other books. Possible Pairings: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Alchemy by Margaret Mahy, The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel, Pivot Point by Kasie West *This book was acquired for review from the publisher*
JBronder More than 1 year ago
Ellie Miller has the ability to make things rot. Because of that she has made it her life long goal to stay away from people. Because of it she is the freak of the school and has no friends except Mackenzie, a girl Ellie met on the internet. She has come to accept that she will never be accepted anywhere in town because of her ability. Then new kid Nate Macpherson takes an interest in Ellie. At first Ellie could care less what happens with Nate and her personal tormentor Amber. But when Nate tells her that he knows what she is and shows her his own abilities does she becomes more interested. But Nate has secrets of his own; being a necromancer will do that. And when Ellie and Nate get together secrets are bound to get out. I had accepted this book for review a long time ago and I have no idea why it has taken me this long to review this book. This is a great story. I feel for Ellie. She is shunned, tormented, and bullied because of her ability to make things decay. My heart just breaks knowing that she clearly understands that this is how her life is going to be until the end. Nate was so sweet and I could completely understand why Ellie just kept pushing him away. I’m glad that he finally got through to her. And I have to say, Nate’s mom as a zombie was great. Just know this is no typical brainless zombie. There is time and place for them and I’m so glad that she was so much more. This is a great story. I have not seen many abilities like Ellie’s before. I like how it worked into the story; definitely one that makes this book even more interesting. This is one paranormal young adult book that you will want to add to your collection. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.