Monday, 16 February 2009

Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell

Riley Rose, atheist and bad girl, has been tricked into attending Spirit Ranch, a Christian camp. There she meets Dylan Kier, alumni camper and recent paraplegic, who arrives with a chip on his shoulder and a determination to perfect all of his bad habits. United in their personal suffering and in their irritation at their fellow campers, they turn the camp inside out as they question the meaning of belief systems, test their faith in each other, and ultimately settle a debate of the heart.

'I don't believe anything good can come from this'.

The above sentence, my favourite from the book, sums up how I felt when I first saw Everything Beautiful. I loved the cover, but didn't like the sound of the story. I think the words 'Christian' and 'camp' were what originally put me off.

I'm now really glad that I gave it a chance, because it's a quirky and unusual book that carries some powerful messages.

The Spirit Ranch camp boasts an eclectic range of characters that you can't help but love. Bird, Sarita and Neville are particular favourites of mine, and I even liked Fleur towards the end. Riley and Dylan were complex and compelling characters, and were both immensely likeable from the beginning of the book. I liked that they just did whatever they wanted, and didn't give a second thought to what people might think of them. Their sarcasm was funny and relatable, and their outlook on life inspiring.

My favourite part of the book was the relationship between Dylan and Riley. I love how they came together and supported and helped each other, even though their personalities initially seemed mismatched.

The ending was bittersweet, and I can't decide whether I think Dylan and Riley ever saw each other again, or if those six days were their only time together. Either way, they both gave each other exactly what they needed: friendship, understanding and hope.

I suppose the message from this review is: don't judge a book by its blurb. Oh, and read Everything Beautiful, as it's not one to be missed.


Em said...

Hmm, interesting. Christian and camp kinda turned me off, too, but I like your review. Makes it sound bigger than those two things.

Steph Su said...

As usual, another great review by you! Have you seen the US and Aussie versions of this cover? I think they're strikingly different from the UK one, if I remember correctly. But still cool though!

Just Listen said...

Ohh. The Christian Camp part was a bit of a turn off for me as well when I read the blurb but I really liked it when I gave it a shot!

Fantastic review. :D

Chicklish said...

Great review, and I loved this book! I'm not sure - I might have been put off by the blurb if I hadn't already read Notes From a Teenage Underground, Simmone Howell's first book (which I also loved!)

About the covers: I love this one! I really don't like the one where you can see the girl's body and she's very obviously *not* overweight. That happens a lot with covers and it irritates me!


So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I'm glad you like it and for some reason I don't think that Riley and Dylan ever saw each other again. How sad.

Lindsay Champion said...

Does the book still have underlying Christian values? I can't do underlying Christian values :) If what's being turned upside-down is the values, however, I'm in.

lindsay ||

Bookworm said...

LOL Christian camp....The cover is great, though, huh?

prophecygirl said...

Steph - I've seen the other covers you mentioned, and I'm not keen on either of them! I love this UK one though.

Lindsay - I didn't pick up any Christian values, but then again, I wasn't looking for any. It's more character driven than I was expecting, and that becomes the most important aspect of the story.

stargirlreads said...

this is on my wish list :)

Anonymous said...

I loved this book. The cover made me pick it up and I actually liked the blurb - 'Christian' and 'Camp' would have put me off if not for the later 'antipasto' and 'eyelash curlers'. =) I don't like the teaser at the beginning from later in the book, which nearly made me ditch it, but it was well worth keeping going in the end. Very much fabulous.