Review: The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi

Genre: Contemporary, magic(al) realism, mystery
My rating: 2/5
Age: Adult / YA (I would say YA, but many on Goodreads say it’s adult. I disagree. But you can decide.)

**Contains spoilers**

I picked up this book based solely on the title. Felt like reading something light.

I have mixed feelings. There are some magic realism bits, which I’m not against, but was wholly unprepared for. Neither the blurb nor the title prepared me for it. But Lily turns into a mirror, shatters, and, when reassembled, becomes human again. And that’s not a mushroom-induced hallucination.

I think the end of Part 1 was the best. The whole story could have been part 1. Part 2 was quite different. And not as well executed.

For example, there’s a part where Barb has to take off her disguise to not be recognized by a killer. Peter bursts into her room and flings off her wig. Ok. He tells them she needs to lose the disguise and why. Ok. Everyone starts pulling off her fat suit + disguises. Ooook. They’re yanking off her pants, peeling off her suit, and Barb seems to be doing nothing. In my mind, she’s flopping around the floor as her friends un-disguise her, because that’s the only good reason for why she seems to have no agency. Oof. And then Georgia dives in and plucks dead-fish Barb’s contacts from her eyes. Nooooooo. Did no contact-wearing readers get eyes on this before it was published? Just. No. I’m imagining Georgia throwing Barb to the ground, wrestling with her to hold her arms still, cranking her eyelids open, screaming, “I’d let you take your own damn contacts out, but that will take too long. NOW HOLD STILL!” Like, bro. No mf is rushing toward my eyes to pluck my damn contacts out. My belief crashed through the window and dove to the pavement at this point.

Some of the medical things that happened weren’t quite believable. Our skin isn’t so delicate that glass touching it slices it so deeply. Some force, even a small amount, should be involved. Barb’s holding Lily together, or trying to (nice metaphor), and, unless gravity has completely abandoned Earth, the glass would be falling down. How convenient, then, for Barb’s wrists and neck to be cut so deeply she needs a blood transfusion, but everything else is just small scratches.

Penelope goes into a literal coma from working on a puzzle (Lily’s body). People survived for years in Nazi concentration camps, so I had a good chuckle over Penelope’s coma. Passing out? Sure. Effing comatose for weeks? Nah, bro. Actually, all the end medical issues felt like superficial plot devices to raise tension, but because I couldn’t suspend disbelief, they didn’t work for me.

The book definitely gave me “Friends” vibes. Filipacchi is, presumably, writing a humorous story. But unfortunately it was difficult for me to determine what was meant to be humor and what was just poorly executed story.

I did enjoy Filipacchi’s writing style. The prose was lovely. The story arc was…. just ok.

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