By Author / Illustrator
Usborne Publishing Ltd
Paperback / softback
Dylan is forced to come out after his secret relationship with Ellis is exposed on social media, but to his surprise, everyone is really supportive - or appears to be. But Dylan's and El's happiness is short-lived, and following a tragic accident, Dylan begins to realize how little he knows about the boy he loves...or those closest to him.
When Dylan met Ellis, so much about his own life started to make sense. He felt he was on course for true happiness and feeling comfortable being gay. All of this changed, however, when Ellis died in a tragic accident. Is Dylan suffering from survivor's guilt, or is his recollection of someone saving him the truth?
In Hideous Beauty, William Hussey has crafted an intricate LGBT+ love story which interweaves with Dylan's quest to find out who publicly outed him and who managed to save him from a sinking car but left Ellis behind to die. Their characters are deftly drawn as a pair who are destined for happiness; Ellis, the survivor of domestic abuse now living with his drug addict aunt in a high rise; Dylan the second son of affluent parents in the 'nicer part of town'.
After someone publishes a video of them online, Ellis supports Dylan as he tells his parents about his sexuality. They appear supportive as do all their school mates when the boys go to the Easter Ball. So why does Ellis suddenly turn quiet and introspective as they leave the school and head out on that fateful car journey?
As he starts to recuperate from the accident, Dylan is left with more questions than answers and only the support of his BFF Mike, who himself is struggling with his cancer treatment. Written with chapters set in the lead up to the accident alternating with chapters set post-accident, this is an enthralling read, ideal for all thriller fans.
This is a book that portrays strong relationships on many levels but it is a dark story and one that does indeed warrant the publisher's cautionary note. This is further enhanced by the advice guidance at the end of the book. Although this is most certainly only for older YA readers, I feel this book opens many conversations and would be a good book club choice.
I was gripped from the minute I started the book and could not put it down until I knew the outcome.
336 pages / Ages 15+ / Reviewed by Sharon Bolton, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 14+
When Dylan and Ellis's secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. Much to Dylan's surprise, they are met with support at their Easter high school dance and he feels that with Ellis at his side, things will not be all bad.
But Dylan's happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry and withdrawn and, as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter's Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck in the last second by a mysterious saviour. Sadly, Ellis is left behind and drowns. Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and to piece together the last months of his boyfriend's life.
With people treating Dylan like his grief for Ellis isn't a big deal and refusing to believe some of his recollections about the accident, he turns to his best friend Mike to help him solve his many questions about that night... Why was Ellis so suddenly upset? Who saved Dylan's life? Why did they leave Ellis to drown?
Hideous Beauty, told in alternating chapters of before and after the accident, slowly reveals the answers to the mystery. It has a great plot, it's well written, and deals with many important issues that young adults may have experienced; however, it did take me a while to get into the story as I was distracted by the 'teen' language (I'm an adult reviewer) but as soon as I got my head around this, I was gripped by the mystery of this thriller. YA readers, I'm sure, will have no problems at all and will find it easy to relate to.
This story is a dark YA thriller/mystery that also deals with many important issues. The publisher has added a trigger warning regarding contents at the beginning of the book that informs readers about the discussion and depiction of grief, loss, drug use, cancer, and physical and mental abuse. Throughout the plot there are many sexual and same sex references, making it suitable for older 15+ YA readers. The main background theme is about LBGTQ issues, relating to coming out and the stigma about how others view homosexual couples.
The author uses a great and appropriate quote from Martin Luther King at the end of the story that makes the reader think. Also at the back of the book there is information for readers who have been affected by the issues raised for them to use for help and guidance.
With its 336 pages, Hideous Beauty would also be a good book for older more mature YA book clubs due to the many discussion points that are raised. As I said previously, this a dark YA thriller, but it focuses on the relationships and emotions of its well developed characters, making it a must read for many YA readers.
336 pages / Ages 15+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 14+