Friday, December 26, 2014

True Colors

True Colors (The Masks, #1)True Colors by Melissa Pearl
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, let's see.

The premise of this novel is completely unique: Caitlyn is given the gift (or the curse) of seeing what lies beneath people's "masks"--that is, she can see what emotions hide beneath the surface of each person (which also speaks volumes to her about who that person really is--good, evil, happy, insecure, etc.). SO COOL. Seriously, I wish I had thought of this.

And I read this book in one sitting. So there was definitely enough to keep me intrigued.

That being said, there were a few things that left me feeling disappointed.

First, why-oh-why did Eric, the love interest, have to be so hot? (I know--strange complaint, but hear me out). From the very first chapter, Caity is swooning (literally, she swoons) over her hot, model-looking neighbor. Later she receives her unmasking gift, and she discovers that not only is Eric gorgeous, but unlike so many of the other people in her life, he is actually sincere. So basically the beautiful boy next door turns out to be beautiful on the inside too. Considering the title of the book is "True Colors," I didn't understand this decision. Why not make Eric sort of strange...an outcast that no one quite understands? Then later, as Caitlyn's friendships begin to dissolve around her due to her new 'gift,' she could slowly discover that her odd duck of a neighbor is one of the rare few "genuine" people in her world. Eric could slowly become more beautiful in the eyes of Caitlyn as his true colors are unveiled. That would have lent itself so much more with the underlying theme (and title) of this book than Caitlyn going through some shallow insta-love thing with Eric simply because he's hot. And it would have offered some much-needed tension to an otherwise way-too-easy romance.

On that note, even once Caitlyn has spent nearly an entire novel removing people's masks, she still keeps commenting on Eric's abs and such. I was really hoping for more depth from her character by the end...that she'd understand that beauty is so much more than that which can be seen on the surface. To her credit, she does end up befriending an overweight girl named Libby. But when it comes to Eric, she never seems to get it.

Other issues. Nothing in this book takes the reader by surprise. The characters presented to the reader before Caity gets her gift turn out to be exactly who you think they are once Caitlyn tears off their masks. Caity's best friend Stella, who was bossy and self-centered before, ends up being the insecure and mean girl you expect. The people-pleasing and overweight Libby ends up being nice, and desperate for approval. There were simply no surprises. I was waiting for Caity to rip off the mask of the school's most admired teacher to see lust in his eyes--something shocking. But it never came.

Another problem was (*spoiler *) a cheating business at school hardly seems heavy/serious enough to kill over. That was a bit of a stretch. I really thought Caitlyn was going to uncover something much more sinister than kids bullying other kids to do their homework. And it was downright odd that given the criminal lengths Liam was taking to cover up this operation, no one was taking this issue to school authorities, or the police. The author tries to rationalize this by mentioning that Liam was putting incriminating pictures/videos of forced BJs and such in the smart kids' lockers as a scare tactic to keep them from "telling", but see the problem with this? Essentially Liam was offering up damning evidence of his own crimes on a silver platter, and yet not one single kid at this school thought to turn the bastard in. And these are supposed to be the "smart" kids?

Finally, it was a little convenient that the homeless man died before he could give Caity more information about her gift. But okay. I can make my peace with that. The author might be trying to leave some mysteries for future books.

Still, I loved the premise of the story, and it was a pleasant little read. I'm looking forward to seeing what book 2 has to offer, and at the minimum, Melissa Pearl is a talented story teller who knows how to keep her readers from getting anything done on a Sunday afternoon.