Crazy Beautiful – Lauren Baratz-Logsted

crazyMy arm rises toward my face and the pincer touch of cold steel rubs against my jaw.

I chose hooks because they were cheaper.

I chose hooks because I wouldn’t outgrow them so quickly.

I chose hooks so that everyone would know I was different, so I would scare even myself.

That’s Lucius Wolfe. He’s 15 and the new kid at school. He and his younger sister, Misty, and his parents had to move because Lucius got in the middle of a bomb making experiment gone wrong and blew himself – and most of his house – up. Now he’s got hooks for hands. Why was Lucius making a bomb, one might ask? Ask away – you’re not going to get any real insight from Lucius other than a vague “I was practicing to do harm, somewhere, sometime, maybe.”

I hear the dog alarm go off in the same instant I become aware of the first morning light in my room. I like rising early, like sleeping with the blinds open, because I’m scared of the dark.

In the dark, almost anything can happen.

That’s Aurora Belle. She’s 15 and also the new kid at the school. She and her father moved because Aurora’s mom had recently died of cancer and her dad thought it was time to change the scenery. Aurora is beautiful and smart and perfect…and immediately popular at school.

On the bus on the first morning  (and what are the chances, eh?) Aurora and Lucius’s eyes meet and wowza. But it’s even more than that for Lucius; he decides to become Aurora’s Gallowglass. It means ‘foreign soldier’ but to Lucius it is “the greatest personal protection service you can think of all rolled into one person.”

Aurora doesn’t really strike me as the person who actually needs protecting. She’s absorbed almost immediately into the school’s who’s who and soon thereafter wins the lead in Grease (which, unbelievably, Lucius has never even heard of).

Still, there is Jessup Tristan (and by now the names are starting to be as irritating as the characters), school douche-bag, and a couple of superficial girls and Nick Greek, the security guard who frisks Lucius after he sets off the alarm going through the school’s metal detector. It’s an embarrassing moment for Nick, but then it’s all made well when the 15 year old boy and the 22 year old security guard become fast friends and Lucius actually helps Nick reconsider his career path. I kid you not.

If Lucius didn’t have hooks for hands and a slightly suspect psyche, Crazy Beautiful would be nothing more than an adequately written YA novel.  Take away those hooks and Lucius’s raison d’etre and you’ve got…nothing. Seriously. At a mere 193 pages there’s no time to really develop the characters or their relationships.

Boy sees girl on the bus and falls instantly in love.

Girl sees boy on the bus and “there was an instant connection.”

We’re on page 28.

And what are the chances, when the plot twist comes – separating these two ‘damaged kids’ – that Aurora knows exactly what Gallowglass is?

As it turns out, pretty damn good.

Give this one a miss.



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