Friday, March 29, 2013
Me on Beautiful Decay
Author: Sylvia Lewis
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Running Press Kids (Perseus imprint)
Ellie has always needed her space. Literally. With a touch that rots whatever she encounters, Ellie must keep people at a distance for their own good. Not that her classmates are itching to be friends with the "freak" of the high school. So when newcomer Nate makes it his mission to get close to Ellie, she has her suspicions. But when he identifies her ability, as well as his own, she finds herself trusting him more and more. Unfortunately for the two, family secrets can kill, and they'll need more than their abilities to keep things under control. After years or pushing people away, Ellie's realization of the full extent of her powers and willingness to let people get close may be the only way to save the people she loves.
Beautiful Decay is an intriguing look at a rather intriguing and rather complicated girl. Secrets and truths circle her, circle her encounters with someone new, someone who doesn't see her as something to be feared or hated. Her pain, her suffering, is known by the whole town, and this is a look at how she suffers as well as how she learns to break free of her shell.
There is no place for Ellie in her town. She's shunned because of what she can do, shunned because everything she touches dies. There is nowhere for her to fit in unless she hides, unless she fades into the background, but everyone knows she's there. Because of this, she's become a sad girl, an angry girl, an annoyed and bitter girl. Her defence mechanism is harsh biting sarcasm. But she's not avoiding the truth of her ability like her parents, especially her mother who thinks that bleach and going off to college will fix everything.
Then Nate shows up, willing to get close to her, willing to touch her, and sends everything and everyone into a panic. Nate has his secrets, like any new kid in a new school would, but Nate knows. He knows what Ellie can do. With him, she isn't as alone as she used to be anymore, but Nate's secrets are bigger and badder than she ever imagined.
Her ability makes her feared and avoided, but it's an ability I haven't come across much in other paranormal books. In a way, it's similar to Juliette from Shatter Me, but in a way, it isn't. It's not that Ellie sucks the life out of someone when she touches them, it's more that she causes decay. It's more the description of bacteria, mould, and fungi that sets her apart. It may make the novel slightly more disgusting than expected, but it also has an earthy quality. It's life and death at the point where its connected to nature.
Ellie's ability and her classmates avoiding her are a metaphor for Ellie being bullied and verbally abused by those classmates. She's shunned for being different, she's ridiculed, she's called horrible names, she's abandoned. It's only a matter of time before she breaks and strips her gloves off, but it's up to her and how much inner strength she as if she'll crumble or stand tall.
As strange as her world is, it's meeting Nate that sends everything Ellie knew up in the air. Her world sort of becomes his once he shares what he knows about her ability, about his, about her not being the freak she always thought she was. But his world is dangerous and the danger is searching for him, stretching out its dark arms towards him, and if it finds her it might suck her in as well. The last third of the book was filled with suspense and intensity, so much tension and excitement. With that ending, I have many hopes for a second book.
(I acquired an advance copy at ALA Midwinter.)