YA Review: Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

  • genre(s):¬†contemporary
  • representation notes: LGBT (m/m)
  • read it for: a great combination of a well-written gay romance and a thriller/mystery, bundled with realistic and easy-to-relate-to explorations of YA relationships with friends and family
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Dylan is forced to come out after his secret relationship with Ellis is exposed on social media, but to his surprise, everyone is really supportive – or appears to be. But Dylan’s and El’s happiness is short-lived, and following a tragic accident, Dylan begins to realize how little he knows about the boy he loves or those closest to him.

Source: I received a review copy of the book via NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion. Hideous Beauty is out now from Usborne in the UK.

I loved this book! Spending time with these characters has been a wonderful lockdown distraction and I have found myself more fully absorbed in a book than has been the case for months. The narrative construction is partially responsible for this – starting near the end and offering alternate chapters of ‘then’ and ‘now’ as Dylan pieces together what happened, we as readers are also offered more insight into the boys’ past. This was brilliantly handled and ensured that there was always something I wanted to follow up and keep reading.

The characters themselves were also vividly drawn. Not just the two mains, but also side characters. I (like many other readers) really liked Mike, Dylan’s best friend, and his family in particular. This believable characterisation helped the novel’s main message that acceptance needs to be full, not conditional, to be clear and fully supported.

I also really appreciated the resources offered alongside the book – both the trigger warnings* at the front, which will be useful to some readers, and the multiple support resources at the end. These go beyond the simple list of organisations to contact (although that is present also), with a great written contribution from a relevant professional. If I were in a position to use this novel in class, I would definitely want to talk about this as well as the text itself.

I haven’t read a gay romance/thriller before, so this has set the bar pretty high! I’m definitely recommending it…

*the novel is described as “a work of fiction but it deals with many real issues including grief, trauma, drug use, cancer, physical and sexual abuse”

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