by Melvin Burgess
3 stars - a book for young readers, but written well enough to entertain this adult
ALR Blue - brief references to animal experimentation, but all clear otherwise
Sara. Teenager. Goofy, imaginative, restless, depressed, impressionable. Typical.
While hospitalized after accidentally (or not) getting burned by an iron, Sara meets rock star Jonathan Heat. Heat is known for his multiple, and increasingly bizarre, cosmetic surgeries. He's kind of gone off the deep end with all of that and now has to wear a mask to prevent his face from frightening those around him.
He sees a kindred spirit in seventeen year old Sara and offers to move her in to his estate and allow his personal plastic surgeon to get rid of the scarring on her face and maybe throw in a breast job as well. Sara and her mom are enchanted and take him up on his offer.
But things are not as they seem. Sara becomes increasingly disturbed while in residence. She begins seeing and hearing things. Ghosts? Who knows? What's real with Sara and what isn't? She has a history of elaborate fictions, so nobody is sure what's really up with her. And what is Heat's real motive in taking her in? He claims he wants to help her be somebody. Help her to become beautiful and famous. Um, OK, maybe be does, but maybe he also has something more sinister in mind.
The story is narrated by an investigative journalist who pieces things together after the fact through interviews and Sara's own video journal. Mr. Burgess does a good job laying on the suspense and intrigue.
While not a lot for an adult reader to hang their hat on, it kept me entertained. For young readers, this would be a great book. It raises a lot of questions about fame, identity, love, you name it. So many "what would you do?" moments. Plus it plays in to the typical teenage conundrum of being neither child nor adult. Of yearning for something, but not knowing the consequences of making your dreams appear to come true. Good stuff.