Review: Gorgeous by Rachel Vail

Publisher: HarperTeen (May 26, 2009)
Paperback: 288 pages
Price: $12.74 from Amazon
She's looking good . . . but Allison Avery can't believe it. Growing up with beautiful, blond sisters, Allison has always been the dark-haired, "interesting-looking" Avery. So when the devil shows up and offers to make her gorgeous, Allison jumps at the chance to finally get noticed. But there's one tiny catch, and it's not her soul: The devil wants her cell phone.

Though her deal with the devil seems like a good idea at the time, Allison soon realizes that being gorgeous isn't as easy as it looks. Are her new friends and boyfriend for real, or do they just like her pretty face? Allison can't trust anyone anymore, and her possessed phone and her family's financial crisis aren't making things any easier. Plus, when she finds out that she might be America's next teen model, all hell breaks loose. Allison may be losing control, but how far is she willing to go to stay gorgeous forever?
Following the critically acclaimed Lucky, Rachel Vail continues her poignant sisterhood trilogy with the rebellious middle Avery sister, Allison. Fiery, sarcastic, and just plain fun, gorgeous captures the heartbreak and hilarity in one girl's attempt to have it all.


Review: Well. Let me start off by saying that Gorgeous wasn't exactly what I expected from the summary.

Gorgeous was, admittedly, a fairly enjoyable read. It's the average chick-lit: shy girl, hot guy, girl gets guy (maybe, not going to ruin the book now, would I?). There's the sterotypical high school cliches and, for the most part, the dialogue and sentiments of the teenage characters were spot-on. Rachel Vail also manages to insert some good messages about self-esteem, family, friends, and appearances. Just want to point out that I thought it was cute how Allison and her crush flirted by talking to each other through their cell phones even when standing next to each other! Perhaps a bit awkard in real life (not that I've tried it), but adorable and adolescence-y nonetheless. 

Unfortunately, there were a lot of points that didn't really boost my impression of this book. First off, there's Allison, who's always important since she's the main girl here. I actually found myself relating more to one of her friends, Roxie, and Roxie isn't even there about a third of the time! I had neutral feelings about Allison at the beginning; she was just one of those girls that wanted to fit in like everyone else. But when she does manage to "fit in," she develops a I-art-better-than-thou attitude which doesn't exactly convey the message that self-assurance will lead to a independent, kind person. But contradictory toward her snooty behavior, her self-esteem is way low, even at the end, and especially for a girl who has the potential to be Amreica's next teen model, which might have been cute for the first 50 pages, but that girl needs some self-confidence! And I'm not just talking about in the last couple pages. The other characters, with the exception of truly independent Roxie, also fell flat for me; it was basically a one-way personality for all of the other characters.

The other main thing that bugged me was the confusing devil-and-phone concept. I had a preconception of what the idea was going to be like and during the course of the book, I thought I was right and I thought I got it, the whole posess-the-phone deal, but then the end comes and everything I thought before was wrong. What?! I'm still trying to understand some impossibilities that turned out not to be so impossible after all...

Bottom Line: Even though there were major flaws in character and plot, Gorgeous, overall, was a mildly enjoyable read for me. I didn't necessarily like the characters, but I also didn't have a strong aversion to them, and I think that and the fact that I didn't go in with high expectations allowed me to still sort of enjoy the book for what it is: very light chick-lit. The concept had potential, but I don't think Rachel Vail was able to manipulate the devil's deal to her full advantage. I won't be re-reading this one, but who knows? Maybe Gorgeous will be your kind of read when you're in for some fluffy padding, but some fluff that still delivers a good message about relationships and self-confidence.