Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

Review: Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick
Release Date: May 1, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic
Rating: I haven't had this much fun in a long time. WARNING: I would probably not classify this as YA, due to language and sexual allusions, but if you don't mind a little filthy humor, quirky insanity, and a total lack of reality, than you might want to give this strange little fairy tale a shot.


When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s summoned from her Missouri trailer park to meet Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer. He makes her an impossible offer: He’ll create three dresses to transform Becky from a nothing special girl into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, or that he’s producing a hidden camera show called World’s Most Gullible Poor People. But she accepts, and she’s remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself – an awkward mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see pure five-alarm hotness.

Soon Rebecca is on the cover of Vogue, the new Hollywood darling, and dating celebrities. Then Becky meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But to love her back, Gregory would have to look past the blinding Rebecca to see the real girl inside. And Becky knows there’s not enough magic in the world.

A screamingly defiant, hugely naughty, and impossibly fun free fall past the cat walks, the red carpets, and even the halls of Buckingham Palace, Gorgeous does the impossible: It makes you see yourself clearly for the first time.

The cover: I love this cover, even if it doesn't exactly capture the fun, frothy nature of this book. It does get the mystical-ness off the red dress, and the background does act as a kind of warning label, that, you know, midnight always rolls around for even the most beautiful of Cinderellas.

The story: I think asking Meg Cabot to blurb this book was spot on. At times it reminded me of her Airhead series, but a little loonier, more over the top, and with a lot of swear words. If you're looking for a grounded fairy tale that takes place right here on planet Earth, Gorgeous is not that book. If you want a book where there are fist fights at Ascot, actresses single-handedly defeat terrorists in hot pink camouflage jumpsuits, and every single word on the page is either insane or hilarious or both, then that is what this book is. It's like a sugar-fueled drug rush of glossy magazines and fairy tales and all the very worst/best parts of our pop culture.

You just KNOW that's Moriarty's favorite genre.

I could tell the instant it started, with Becky's highly unique narration, that a lot of people won't like this book. It's very unique, very specialized. It's my brand of humor almost exactly. Nutty, zany, quirky, and awkward. I will admit I spent most of the beginning a little confused (even though every single thing about Becky's life in the trailer park of East Trawley, Missouri was split-your-seams hysterical), but once Becky's life as "Rebecca" began, that's when the book got moving. And it never stopped.

I think this book straddles the line between Young Adult and New Adult. Becky has left high school, and there's language and sexual innuendo like you don't usually find in YA. However, the light tone and themes are very much not what's happening in this hazy new NA genre, which is mostly about college kids being very serious and having sex and suffering through lots of issues. Gorgeous is unabashedly fun, has no graphic sex scenes, and is about inner beauty and true love and self-esteem and all sorts of themes more prevalent in YA.

I get that Gorgeous isn't going to work for a lot of people. I, however, swear like a sailor and did even when I was in high school, because I was raised by foul-mouthed wolves with anger management issues, and I watch a lot of cable, and while this isn't a raunchy book by any means, it doesn't pass the squeaky clean teen test, either. So, be warned.

This book, obviously, is a hoot and a half, but it also has just enough weight in it to keep it from shooting off into the sky. All of the characters have so much personality that it's almost overwhelming, but not, because this is the best problem to have in all of literature. Becky, that delightful, hilarious, irreverent girl, learns all the life lessons she should, and then some. Rocher is her Missouri best friend, and yes, she was named after the chocolate. I adore her. She is a classy East Trawley broad who will always remove her hoops before kicking your ass. But I adore no one quite as much as Prince Gregory, world's most hilariously awkward prince, who needs to find a way to leave the pages of this book and somehow materialize as a real person and become my lawfully wedded husband right this moment.

Also, this book happens to focus on a couple of my favorite things: celebrity gossip, fairy tales, and the British. Most specifically, the British monarchy and the British hoi polloi and the British tabloids being lunatics. My mom and I used to DEVOUR Hello! magazine when I visited England as a kid. I stayed up all damn night watching the Royal Wedding alone on my couch, mainlining coffee and zombie-eating my way through two boxes of Thin Mints. I once had an exceptionally realistic dream that I was engaged to be married to Prince Harry, and Kate Middleton was showing me the ropes, and I had to learn polo as fast as possible because you're not allowed to be British if you can't ride a horse (true story. The dream, not the horse rule). So naturally I would enjoy reading about a girl romancing a fictional Prince of England. A fictional sexy Prince of England. It's a modern day fairy tale set in my brain if my brain were on the best sort of drugs.

I would encourage people to take a chance on this book, because you might be just the right person for it, if you're in the mood for some serious laughs or want to live the ultimate dream along with Becky. I mean, I don't know about you, but I am incapable of not enjoying reading about one-on-one tea with the Queen of England and her veritable army of judgmental corgis. This book skewers and pays homages to British culture and American culture with wit, a wink, and a lot of laughter. I read this book right when I was in the mood for it, and while I was dubious at the start, I ended up totally smitten. I plan on rereading this one in the future, just so I can memorize a couple of the more hilarious lines. Also because Gregory. Mmmm. Gregory

All hail Britannia!


  1. Oh, I actually won this one of Goodreads but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I might have to bump it up on my TBR list though after reading this review! I'm interested to see if the humor works for me, and I love fairy tales and The British as well! So thanks for the review! I'm excited to read it now!

  2. This book sounds like the perfect book for me! You have no idea how excited I got while reading your review! I love a good fairytale retelling and it almost sounds like it has the same vibe as Going Bovine, which is one of my favorite books! The weirder the better, when the weird is done well! Seriously this sounds like so much fun and I'm so glad that you loved it so much.

    P.S. my Thorn Abbey review went live today... ummm.

  3. "...if you don't mind a little filthy humor, quirky insanity, and a total lack of reality, than you might want to give this strange little fairy tale a shot." So, umm, yeah. You just described all of me in one glorious sentence. That and I am an unadultered Anglophile (I get bonus creds because my dad and, like, half my family is from England). I have no doubt I'm going to ADORE this book. In fact, I think Barnes & Noble and an unscheduled lunch break are calling me right now!

  4. "At times it reminded me of her Airhead series, but a little loonier, more over the top, and with a lot of swear words." Sounds great. BUT I've been hearing so many poor reviews about this book! Is it really just that zany crazy bananas... or is it just that YOU are zany crazy bananas?

    That being said, anything and everything silly and British sounds like a go to me. (Number one reason I still own Spice World on VHS...) :)

  5. Your reviews are seriously some of my favorite. I wasn't sure about reading this book from the synopsis alone and then I read your review...Yes please! I'm down for a hilarious book with crazy social interactions and a prince that you wish was real. I'm going to give it a shot and hope that I'll love it as much as you. Plus, who doesn't love everything British? :) Not to mention that I'm a big Meg Cabot fan.

  6. This sounds like so much fun! The cover made the book feel serious to me (and totally had me ignoring the summary), but you make it sound very entertaining. Plus, British is a key word for me - say it and I'm there! I'm definitely going to have to check this one out.

  7. "Gregory. Mmmm. Gregory." Indeed. Spot on review! I wish they'd turn this into a movie. So, so good! :D

  8. "Gregory. Mmmm. Gregory" Indeed. I wish they'd turn this into a movie. Great review!

  9. Every single time Gregory was in a scene I was swooning. Loved him so much.


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