YA Nick Sparks – take that as you will! 3.5/5 stars.
Thank you to Spencer Hill Press and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book.
The UK paperback of Making Faces will be published on 21st February. If you can’t wait that long it’s already available to buy as an e-book.
The blurb: Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.
Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast where we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us.
Making Faces is a simple story containing a sweet, predictable romance. The strength of the tale is its characters who are pretty-much all likeable. However, I give particular praise to Harmon for making Bailey the stealth star of her book, his personality easily outshining those of the romantic leads. If Making Faces were refocussed so it was all about Bailey with everyone else as supporting cast, this could easily become a 5-star book. His character alone has earned this book an extra half star.
I think Making Faces would be best enjoyed in as few sittings as possible. I most enjoyed the long section I managed to read without interruptions. During this time I found how much I’d been made to care about the characters crept up on me and I was able to overlook the things I didn’t like about the story because I was so invested in the fate of the cast.
When I returned to finish the last quarter of the book after taking a few hours off, I noticed a great deal more the niggles which put a dent in my reading enjoyment.
The book has a clear and commendable message about beauty only being skin deep, but it repeats this message again and again ad nauseam. Shakespeare quotes were over-used and the Christian messages could have been delivered with more subtlety. I would have liked some character development for Fern who most of the time seemed to have little more to her than “I love Ambrose and I look after everyone and I think I’m ugly”. Also, the writing is very tell, not show, which is fine and makes everything very clear, but nuance and ambiguity would have been nice.
Overall: in the title of my review I reference Nick Sparks, and this book did remind me of his writing, but a YA version. I hope this reference might give many of you an idea of whether you’d like this book or not!
Claire Huston / Art and Soul