Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Vain by Fisher Amelie

If you’re looking for a story about a good, humble girl, who’s been hurt by someone she thought she could trust, only to find out she’s not as vulnerable as she thought she was and discovers an empowering side of herself that falls in love with the guy who helps her find that self, blah, blah, blah...then you’re gonna’ hate my story. Because mine is not the story you read every time you bend back the cover of the latest trend novel. It’s not the “I can do anything, now that I’ve found you/I’m misunderstood but one day you’ll find me irresistible because of it” tale. Why? Because, if I was being honest with you, I’m a complete witch. There’s nothing redeeming about me. I’m a friend using, drug abusing, sex addict from Los Angeles. I’m every girlfriend’s worst nightmare and every boy’s fantasy. I’m Sophie Price...And this is the story about how I went from the world’s most envied girl to the girl no one wanted around and why I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Release Date: December 25, 2012
Publisher:  Self Published
Genre:  New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Purchase at: Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

You see, I'm one of the beautiful people.

Vain completely blew me away.  I picked up this book because I heard another author talking about it.  I knew nothing about this book, nor had I previously read any Fisher Amelie books.  I was expecting a quick, entertaining read about a spoiled and shallow girl, yet I wound up with one of those stories that will stick with me for a very long time.  If I could give this book more than five stars, I would.  

Fisher Amelie is an extremely talented writer.  Her prose is tight and beautiful.  She is able to extract the maximum amount of emotion from very few words.  This story took us on a journey of self-realization, fraught with danger and the knowledge that sometimes loving someone means making painful decisions.

That girl was the real me.  Frightened.  Worthless.  A terrible friend.  Terrible daughter.  Well educated but so limited in ideas worth having.  Beautiful yet repulsive...

When we first meet Sophie Price, we meet a high school-aged prima donna.  She is disgustingly wealthy and untouchably beautiful.  She is the queen of her clan of friends, who are not much more than social piranhas.  All of the boys in her life want to have sex with her and all the girls want to be her friend.  Her parents are more concerned with appearances than with reality.  Sophie has been allowed to rule her kingdom since she was 14 years old and has steadily found her way into more and more trouble.  Sophie is busted at a party with cocaine.  Since this is her second offense, she is punished severely for it.  Instead of sending her to jail, the judge sends Sophie to work at an orphanage in Uganda for 6 months.  

The words felt prophetic, although the subjects of her song were entirely objects, but when I really defined myself, that's what I was, a mere object and it was all by my own doing.  I was those breathing objects, desperately aching to escape, to live and suddenly a calm washed over me.

As Sophie prepares for her stint in Uganda, she decides that she needs a change in her life.  When Sophie arrives in Africa, she is greeted by the enigmatic Dingane (Din-John-ee) who immediately gives her the cold shoulder.  Dingane is 20 years old, pale, tall and muscular, and has bright blue eyes framed by longish black hair.  Sophie is instantly attracted to him.  He doesn't give Sophie the benefit of the doubt and expects her to work just as hard as everyone else at the orphanage.

"I know you quite well.  I know you're here because you were caught with cocaine twice.  I recognized immediately the type of person you were before you even arrived."

Instead of taking offense to Dingane's words, Sophie sets forth to work her hardest and to prove that she is more than a shallow, spoiled, rich brat.  Work at the orphanage is painstakingly difficult.  There are too many children, a majority of them deformed in some way.  The Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda is responsible for the atrocities against the children.  The children, however, are resilient, and are the major influence in Sophie's Ugandan life.  She begins to view life through a different filter and realizes that her previous life was meaningless.

"Life, Sophie.  They still live.  They breathe, they love each other, they find joy in the world around them for no other reason than because they are children.  They are resilient.  They will always rise above.  Always.  It is a curious facet of the innocent young."

The cast of characters in this book were well-developed and leave an impression.  Karina and Charles, the couple that runs the orphanage, are the embodiment of love, loyalty and dedication.  They treat all of the children as if they were their own.  Mandisa stole my heart with her blind trust and love that helped to transform Sophie into the person she becomes by the end of the book.  Even the intolerant Abri Aberdeen was written so well that I wanted to strangle her!  

Dingane and Sophie develop a powerful relationship.  Although Dingane gives Sophie a hard time at first, he discovers that there is more to Sophie than what he sees on the surface.  Sophie and Dingane work together, live together and face dangerous situations together.  Din challenges Sophie to be more than she thinks she can be.  We also learn that Din isn't the squeaky-clean, altruistic boy we originally think he is.  As the story progresses, Sophie and Din become more and more comfortable with one another, and it becomes obvious that Din is attracted to Sophie at a level that even she is not used to.

There was no mention of me other than the part no one could even see.  I'd been called beautiful so many times.  It gratified me, validated me, but it was all empty, a facade.  This was the first time someone had called me beautiful and it actually meant something to me.  The praise slammed into my skin and permeated my body, leaving me flushed and overwhelmed.

My only very minor issue with this book is that the ending seems a bit rushed.  A lot of things happen in the last 15% or so of this book.  There are still some questions I have that weren't answered, and I feel like there is much more to explore in this world.  

Sophie and Din fight many battles in this book, from disease, to the Lord's Resistance Army, to their own families.  There are many tense moments along the way that had me clinging to the edge of my seat.  The romance was very well written and left me wanting more of this amazing couple that came together against all odds.  

If you're looking for a story that tackles more than just a hot romance, or more than a simple coming-of-age-story, then you need to get a copy of this book immediately.  I was blown away by the story, by the writing, by the mulit-layered characters and by the sweet complexity of the issues Amelie tackles in this book.  My only wish is that there was more to learn about Sophie, Din and the world in which they inhabit.   

"No one can know sincere happiness, Sophie, without first having known sorrow.  One can never appreciate the enormity and rareness of such a fiery bliss without seeing misery, however unfair that might be."

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scott wilcox said...

I have been reading a lot of positive feedback about this book! I am going to add it to my wish list in case I don't win here (crossing my fingers and toes!) Congratulations on the release!

Happy New Year and much continued success,

erin said...

Thanks for the fun post and Happy New Year! This book sounds fantastic and I'm definitely adding it to my wishlist :) Thanks for sharing!

Miss Bobo said...

happy new year! may you have a wonderful and successful year !!!

Amy R said...

Happy New Year! I've heard lots of good things about is book. It's made my ever-growing TBR list, so I'd love to win a copy. Thanks for the giveaway!

Braine TS said...

I still have to move past through the shallow parts for me to see if I like this book. The blurb is so interesting though I bought it when I saw it. Great review Jamie, makes me optimistic that I will end up liking this... I hope :D

Happy New Year!
Talk Supe

Mary Preston said...

My favorite book of 2012 was BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood.

Cimmaron @ Talksupe said...

Fisher just gave me this book last night to review. I can't wait to read it. I already have her Sleepless series which I plan on reading later this month. Great review Jamie! Can't wait to crack this one open. I love stories about people getting knocked down a few pegs and discovering their "true" selves.

Jamie said...

Debbie - she offered me this book, too, but I had already bought it and finished it! It was worth every bit of my $2.99 ;-)

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