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Sara's Face (Puffin Teenage Books) Paperback – 31 Jan 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; First Edition edition (31 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141316322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141316321
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 740,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Genuinely chilling . . . a smart satire for our image-obsessed culture (Telegraph)

Sara's Face is quite unlike anything else I have read this year (Independent)

Ingenious and chilling . . . the narrative gallop will have readers sitting up half the night to finish it (Observer)

Remarkable . . . startling (Publishing News)

Thrilling . . . it stays with you (Guardian)

Book Description

When Sara meets ageing rock star Jonathon Heat, he promises her the world. She'll become famous, beautiful, and extraordinary. But there's always a price to pay... --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Sara's a damaged girl who dreams of fame and fortune. Prone to fantasies, anorexia and self-harming she meets rock star Jonathan Heat at her local hospital after an accident with an iron leaves a triangular scar on her otherwise beautiful face. Heat is disfigured himself - excessive cosmetic surgery having caused his face to collapse in on itself - and he wears a mask when out in public. He takes Sara to his mansion, promising to fix her facial scars and give her other cosmetic surgery that she's convinced she requires to be beautiful. Once at the mansion however, she claims that she can see the ghost of a girl with no face - a girl who otherwise looks exactly like her.

There's too much going on here. Burgess wants this to be a commentary on the obsession with celebrity, beauty and cosmetic surgery but also writes it as a ghost story and alludes to the Bluebeard legend when the novel simply isn't long enough to handle it all satisfactorily. Sara should be a character you can empathise with, but she's so morally ambiguous - telling different stories to different characters - that it's difficult to it's difficult to sympathise with her. Likewise, Heat is a damaged individual in his own right and could be a sympathetic villain, but seen mainly through the eyes of others he is too diffuse to understand and the sinister Dr Kaye who Heat claims was the driving force behind his operations isn't on the page long enough to make an impression.

The narrative style makes it difficult to buy into the story.
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Format: Hardcover
Jonathon Heat was a famous rock star who had his own compound, surgeons, and assistants. All of the things a rich and famous celebrity would have--and then some. In fact, due to so much cosmetic surgery and experimental procedures, somehow Jonathon's face was destroyed to the point that he wore a mask at all times. With his high celebrity status, wearing a mask became a widespread thing to do. There were all sorts of masks--some with snouts, some with real hair, half-masks, full masks.

Sarah was once an unknown and sometimes self-destructive girl. She had big plans to be famous and was saving for several forms of cosmetic surgery: new breasts, a better face, liposuction later on. It was part of her long-term plans. When Sarah's destructive behavior spiraled out of control, she burned her face with an iron and her mother had her placed in the hospital. Sarah claimed it was an accident, but not everyone was convinced. This is when she met Jonathon Heat. He came to visit children in the hospital, but somehow already knew a great deal about Sarah. He lured Sarah to his compound with the promise of free cosmetic surgery to fix the burn mark.

It was almost Michael Jacksonish the way Jonathon took Sarah in. Sarah moved into his mansion and was his constant companion. The two were constantly photographed together and speculation about their relationship was rampant. However, when readers were exposed to Sarah's video journals, we learn a completely different view of what was really going on. Secret rooms, security cameras covering every inch of the property, and maybe even ghosts. It's very difficult to tell what really happens, what Sarah might be imagining, and what she may even be making up.
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Format: Hardcover
Melvin Burgess is well-known for his young adult, social realist fiction since the publication of his novel Junk in 1996. Sara's Face carries on this trend, with Burgess looking at the culture of celebrity and of beauty.

I found Sara's Face a very difficult book, not because I disliked it, not because it disturbed me, but precisely for the opposite reason: when I finished the book, I felt nothing. It's not really the sort of book you want to walk away from feeling completely unaffected, but I did.

At its heart the book is about the quest for two things: the quest for identity, and the quest for beauty. These two quests are played out through the characters of Sara and of Jonathon Heat. Dr Wayland Kaye is a key player in their quests, and yet he barely exists on the page. There is no question that Sara, Heat and Kaye are enigmatic characters. They're not easy characters either, and I think that's the point.

There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn from this book, very few of which are comfortable. In many ways Sara's Face can be read as a horror story, as it contains a lot of the horror archetypes - monsters, violence, fear. The story isn't meant to be a comfortable one. It's meant to make you think.

So why did I only find it okay? Well, I think I just may be too old for this book. I think this book is definitely aimed at its audience and I may know too much of the world, and the horrors it can hold because honestly for me the book didn't go far enough to make it stick with me.
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