Ugly Beautiful
Sean Cairns

Kindle Edition, Nov 21, 2011, $.99
Review by Darkeva

Ugly Beautiful is the story of Jason, a low-life thug who, along with his reluctant associate, Gary, has a shady dealing with an Albanian drug lord that leads to no good. Jason ditches Gary in the middle of the road, alone, to fend for himself, while he drives off with stolen cash. He’s on his way to a cottage that he inherited from an uncle, passes by a blonde hitchhiker, and although he stops at first, he drives off, only to find a passed out brunette near the cottage when he gets there. He decides to take her in, and she seems to suffer from some kind of amnesia as well as frequent headaches. Inevitably, they ‘hook up’ to use the common parlance, but her headaches became full-scale mental attacks and nothing is as it seems anymore; Jason’s life is in more danger than any drug lord could put him in the path of.

Although he comes around toward the end, Jason is largely unsympathetic, angry, and arrogant for most of the book. The first conversations he has with Gary go nowhere, and the main point could be communicated in much fewer words, and at other times, the dialogue functions as a clumsy device to set up the story with Haley, the passed out girl who Jason finds near his cottage. As it turns out, Haley tells him about her dream involving two little girls finding a freezer in a dark cellar with some pretty morbid contents, which ties in with the latter portion of the story, which has a slight tendency toward torture porn, and the ending is to be expected as it can’t go too many other ways. The big reveal, although conveyed properly enough, is still a bit confusing in terms of the technical aspects, and the execution could have been improved. While we do get character development with Jason, his breakthrough near the end and his self-reflection felt a bit forced, as though it was designed to serve the purposes of the plot.

Despite having copy-editing and stylistic issues, the story has some merits, and a compelling enough storyline, and the question of whether Haley will find a way to combat and defeat what causes her mental attacks is intriguing enough to carry most readers through the book.

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