Author: Madeleine George
Release Date: June 2008
Published By: Viking
Pages: 240 pages
Goodreads Rating: 3.52 stars
Review: Meghan is extremely overweight, but despite her hulking frame, she is invisible to all except those who mock her. At the other end of the spectrum, Aimee is anorexic, so tiny she disappears into herself. Though seemingly different, they have two things in common. Both are outsiders, and both have been slighted by Cara, the most popular girl in school. The two invisible girls team up to bring Cara down and make her feel the humiliation they had undergone, to hurt her the way she had hurt them, but not everything goes the way it should.
I have really mixed feelings about LOOKS, so I'll start with what I liked. The writing in this novel was just so beyond gorgeous, with prose so lyrical that sometimes the passages I was reading felt like pure poetry. Madeleine George has such a way with words, an ability to transform the cruel judgements and cut-throat social competition of high school into fluid language. I feel like this book would have made an amazing verse novel, although I definitely enjoyed the writing as it was.
What I didn't like so much basically boiled down to the themes. There were some great ones that were explored, like social chains, being an outsider, eating disorders, and dysfunctional families, but then it was like there were too many to fit in such a small book. Not all of them seemed fully formed, and some came across as too preachy to me. At times, it felt as if this book was really about the message with the characters manipulated to go along with it, like with the one-dimensional evil popular kids.
I also couldn't help but feel there were just too many loose ends. The ending to LOOKS was powerful and shocking, but there were so many questions left unanswered, so many themes left unexplored. For example, the eating disorders were a major component of the book, and yet there wasn't any solution to it. By the end, both girls were essentially the same as they were in the beginning, which I found surprising.
Overall, I feel like this novel had a great deal of potential and the author is absolutely a talented writer. The prose was beautiful, but all my problems centered around the somewhat preachy themes, one-dimensional minor characters, and loose threads at the end. LOOKS wasn't the right book for me, but I will be on the look-out for more works by Madeleine George.