Review: Hideous Beauty

The love for Hideous Beauty continues today with my glowing review of this brilliant book. If you missed it yesterday, I even got to fire a lot of questions at Will himself. Thank you to Usborne for allowing me to read this early via Netgalley.

When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?

But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.

Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.

Waterstones | Amazon | Goodreads

Trigger warnings: death, grief, sexual assault, cancer, drug use, physical abuse, homophobia

My Thoughts:

Hideous Beauty is, simply put, absolutely phenomenal. I just fell in love with the entire story and these wonderful characters so much. It moved me to genuine sobs several times; something which I do not do. 

I connected so much with Dylan, El and Mike. They were an amazing trio and Hussey really showed off Mike and Dylan’s amazing friendship, while also giving El and Dylan’s relationship space to breathe. Fro, the first couple of chapters, I was heavily invested in both of these bonds, which makes the shift in narrative only that much more devastating. You root for Dylan from the first page, feeling all the micro aggressions that are like ‘death by a thousand Bat-cuts’. 

Hussey’s writing is just incredible: whip-smart, packed with emotion and he throws in some knowing cultural references that I loved picking up. It pulsates with power and delicacy as he deals with some really tough issues. The characters also feel like real teens that I may have seen in my school corridors. Also, his portrayal of grief is stunning. It’s nuanced and all-consuming and Hussey shows this perfectly. 

This book, at its core, is about feigned acceptance and this really hit home for me. It contains so many important themes (please check the trigger warnings I’ve listed above, which are also on the first page of the book); each of which is dealt with delicately and with obvious research to back it up. There’s a list of resources and a letter from a counsellor to support some of the issues discussed at the end of the book, which I thought was just brilliant to include. This is a dark and twisty tale that made me seethe with rage at times, but these are real issues that my peers deal with everyday. 

The central story is a mystery, but it is also a love story. We primarily see Dylan and Ellis’ relationship bloom through flashbacks, before it is tragically cut short. Their relationship felt so natural and lovely, full of a lot of the trials and tribulations of first love, but also darkened by the shadow of ignorance and prejudice. On the mystery side, Hussey can’t be faulted. There are excellent twists and turns throughout the book and they never feel convoluted, rather that they’ve been lurking there the whole time. 

Hideous Beauty is a brilliantly plotted, emotional YA thriller with awesome LGBT+ representation that is definitely an early contender for one of my favourite books of the year. 

8 thoughts on “Review: Hideous Beauty

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