Title: She’s Too Pretty to Burn
Author: Wendy Heard
Publisher: Henry Hold & Company
Publishing Date: March 30th 2021
Age Category & Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Synopsis: An electric romance set against a rebel art scene sparks lethal danger for two girls in this expertly plotted YA thriller. For fans of E. Lockhart, Lauren Oliver and Kara Thomas.
The summer is winding down in San Diego. Veronica is bored, caustically charismatic, and uninspired in her photography. Nico is insatiable, subversive, and obsessed with chaotic performance art. They’re artists first, best friends second. But that was before Mick. Delicate, lonely, magnetic Mick: the perfect subject, and Veronica’s dream girl. The days are long and hot―full of adventure―and soon they are falling in love. Falling so hard, they never imagine what comes next. One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect . . . one stalker. This is a summer they won’t survive.
Inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, this sexy psychological thriller explores the intersections of love, art, danger, and power.
**Thank you to Henry Holt & Company and Netgalley for providing me an eARC. This, by any means, did not affect nor influence my review.**
T/CW: murder, violence, death (human and animal), abuse
WRITING, SETTING, CHARACTERS
She’s Too Pretty to Burn follows the story of three main characters: Veronica, Mick, and Nico. Veronica is a photographer whose best friend is Nico who is an artist, and Mick is an athlete whom Veronica met at a party and started dating. They will be caught in a tangle of art, danger, fire, and murders. It is written from their three points of view. And is mostly set in San Diego, California.
Veron appeared to be that nice, easy-going photographer which made me like her on the start. But that soon changed. I was really annoyed by how manipulative she turned out to be. After all that happened, I can’t say that I hate her, but I definitely ended up not liking her as much as I expected. Mick was somehow the opposite of Veron, she is an introvert, not as social and is scared of her photo being taken. I liked her more. Nico intrigued me the most from the start. He is an artist and I thought at the beginning that I might learn a lot from him. I loved the complexity of the main characters. The focus was on them. And the side characters were not given much spotlight, but I still really appreciate Claudia.
I like Heard’s writing. I was engrossed, I was kept interested and curious about what was going to happen next from the beginning until the end. It got really intense once I reached around 75%. The book has a good amount of surprise and creepy moments. However, some plot points were also predictable and there were instances when I almost forgot that it’s a thriller because I couldn’t really feel it.
ART, FRIENDSHIP, OBSESSION, AND MORE
She’s Too Pretty to Burn tackles art—and introduced me to installation art and disruptive installation art, obsession, dysfunctional family and the consequences of poor and irresponsible parenting, photography, environmental terrorism, friendship, and the tangled lines of fear, excitement, fun and danger.
I love how the book explores art and its dark side. How an art and the artist can be dangerous. How far art and its artist can go. The borders that shouldn’t be crossed. It makes you think. It shows just how powerful art is.
I also love how it talks about what it means to be in a dysfunctional family. This topic is so important. And I always appreciate stories that tackle such topic because it is helpful in making us understand this situation and the behavior of children who came from such families. I just wished it was explored even further.
I found some things at the beginning unconvincing and uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable with how Veron talked about Mick’s body especially at the start. It was obvious that Veron’s physical attraction to Mick was one, if not “the”, main reason why something started to happen between them. They literally just met the day before and are already acting as if they actually know each other the next. Though that may be happening to some people in real life, it was still hard for me to be convinced of what was going on. I didn’t like the way they started especially because of all the manipulation and toxicity. I was happy when they were happy, but at the same time when I look back to the beginning, I can’t help but doubt many things, especially because I find many of the things that happened in the start to be unjustifiable.
I understand some possible motivations behind the characters’ actions but some of them also did not make sense to me, just like when a girl who is not that social, did not even want to be on that party did all that on the first day she met this person, completely disregarding the fact that they are literally strangers and it is dangerous.
I also did not find the sexy part of the “sexy psychological thriller” line from the synopsis that I was expecting. I was shocked by the ending but cannot say that I am fully satisfied either. I feel like there are many missing pieces that are not beneficial to the story—especially to a certain character’s narrative, but would have been beneficial if they were included instead. If there will be a sequel that would have made more sense to me and can probably make me enjoy this story more.
She’s Too Pretty to Burn is a story about three main characters, their friendship, art, murders, and one killer. This turned out not exactly what I expected it to be. This was somehow underwhelming. I overall still enjoyed it, but I also had some issues. I suggest not to keep your expectations that high, but if you are interested after reading the synopsis, you might still enjoy it. Primarily because of the writing, I might still read more works by Heard.
Wendy Heard was born in San Francisco and has lived most of her life in Los Angeles. When not writing, she can be found hiking the Griffith Park trails, taking the Metro and then questioning this decision, and haunting local bookstores.