Thursday, February 28, 2013

Beautiful Decay

Beautiful Decay
Sylvia Lewis
Running Press Kids, 2013
$9.95, Softcover

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Age: 12+
Description: Ellie Miller suffers from the X-Men Rogue’s problem—she really needs her personal space because her touch can literally kill. Well, she’s pretty sure it can kill because every time she touches anything with her hands the thing begins to grow bacteria and mold and appears to rot. The few people she’s actually touched have gotten severely ill. This unique “curse” means that her high school life is utter hell as everyone is scared of her, calls her a freak, and steers clear of her. She isn’t prepared with a cute new boy, Nate MacPherson, shows up and appears to be dead set on connecting with her. As he breaks through her outer shell, he informs her that she is wrong about her powers—yes, powers—and that she is a viviomancer, a person who can manipulate the forces of life. He, himself, is a necromancer, he can manipulate death. Viviomancers are a rare thing so that is why no one has probably gotten in touch with her to help her learn to train her skills. Unfortunately for them, Nate’s father worked for a mysterious organization of other supernatural people and they are demanding that Nate take his father’s place. However, he has his hands full and he and his mother have been moving from town to town to try and avoid these people and his big secret is that his mother, in a drunken accident, fell down the stairs one day and died. Nate, coming home to find her, in his confusion touched her without thinking and brought his mother back from the dead. However, she’s not 100% re-animated as she desperately needs to feed her hunger for rare meat. Can Ellie and Nate work together to fight against the conglomerate of evil?
Opinion: This book was somewhat enjoyable. I am really going to have to leave my review up to some of my teens because I read it and I really don’t know what to say about it. I am literally speechless in a bad way. I love the Rogue-like powers. I also loved the descriptions of Ellie and the problems her power has. The descriptions of her accidentally touching her teacher, of causing mold to break out in her shower, and of finally sprouting a little tree with her powers—one really sympathizes with Ellie and her status as an ultimate outsider. The whole zombie mom aspect was also entertaining at times (she was revived to how she was right before she died—pretty much a happy drunk idiot) but highly sad (she’s stuck in this hungering existence) and horrifying at the same time (when Nate ends up in the hospital Ellie tries to go and feed his mom and encounters a crazed woman). The evil group of supernatural people really didn’t feel fleshed out enough to be really evil. I wonder if this will be part of a series as it seems like it should continue. 

Here is what some of my teens had to say:

Katie, 15, says, “The cover is amazing! At first, it is hard to tell it’s a tree but it wraps up Ellie in one simple picture. You also really get it when she has the tree grow in her bed. The most compelling aspect of the book was the ending! It was wonderful! This book was very hard to start and at a few times a little hard to follow. There were also, in this ARC, quite a few places where entire sentences clearly were missing. Luckily, I don’t think it was any information too vital to understanding the story. Despite it being a little slow at first I am glad I stuck with it because it turned out to be a really good book.”

Emily, 14, says, “Ellie Miller has an amazingly disturbing ‘gift’—it appears she can decay things with her touch. All her life she has been picked on, excluded, and feared by those around her, including her parents. Then Nate comes into the picture. As a new student, he has a ‘gift’ of his own. Turns out his gift is the true version of power over death while Ellie’s gift is much rarer. He helps her discover the actual beauty of her gift and that it is powerful and nothing to be afraid of. I liked the flames on the tree on the cover. I think it reflected the contents enough. I think the most compelling parts were the big fight scene and how Ellie changed her life. I didn’t really like the ending. I also felt there were a few confusing parts here and there. This could also be because there were some sections of the ARC that were clearly missing somewhat large (probably a sentence or two) chunks of text." 

Sarah, 15, says, “Ellie has never been a normal kid. Her strange ability has never allowed her to touch anyone. One day a new kid shows up at her school named Nate. Ellie soon finds out that Nate also has a special ability—he can raise the dead. Ellie thought her power was to kill things with her touch but Nate shows her that her power goes much deeper—she can actually create life by growing things. Nate and Ellie become close, especially since Nate can touch Ellie without any ill consequences. However, Nate is harboring a secret—he is on the run from people who want to use his powers for evil and their own personal gain. Will they find him again? Will they want Ellie too? I liked how the cover was all natural like. I like the tree like background and how there where pink flower things on the cover. It was a really cool cover. My favorite part was when Lucas and Audra ram the back of Nate, Ellie, and Mackenzie’s car and Ellie uses her ability to stop Lucas. It was an awesome part. This book was really good. I love the abilities that Ellie and Nate (and even Mackenzie) have. The author did a good job writing this novel. It was really good! I also liked how Nate was able to use his powers to counteract Ellie’s and be able to touch her without getting hurt.”

*Thanks to Geri Ditella at Running Press Kids for providing an ARC of this title for the YA Galley Group project!*

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