Title: A Need So Beautiful
Author: Suzanne Young
Narrated by: Hannah Smith
Date: June 2011
A Need So Beautiful introduces us to Charlotte Cassidy, an orphan living with her foster mother and several other foster children. Charlotte suffers from uncontrollable compulsions which she calls her “need” that compels her to seek out certain people and help them in some life-changing way. These compulsions come over her randomly and manifests as a physical ache deep within her that is only relieved when she completes her task. She has tried to keep all of these compulsive “needs” hidden from everyone, but her best friend seems to have an idea that something is a bit different about Charlotte. When Charlotte begins to realize that these “needs” are not only taking over her life, but may also end it, she has to come to terms with who and what she really is and decide which path to take.
I had such a difficult time writing this review. I thought the premise was incredibly fascinating and original. The compulsions that basically ruled Charlotte’s life were intriguing in the way they came upon her as well as in the way she fulfilled each task. I felt her frustration that these “needs'’ would so often take her away from what she preferred to be doing and she seemed to be powerless to control when and where these compulsions would overtake her. I can’t imagine having my life ruled by these impulses to help other people even when I didn’t particularly want to. It was almost as if Charlotte was a slave whose will was forced to follow the whims of these compulsions. Understandably, she resented this. Charlotte has the basic desires of many teenagers, to spend as much time as possible with her boyfriend and when she’s not with him, to hang out with her best friend. When her body began to show physical changes because of these impulses, she began to search for answers and a way to stop what was happening to her. As much as I would love to make a difference in the world and in other people’s lives, would I be willing to do so at the expense of my own life and my own happiness?
While I loved the premise, I often felt a bit of a disconnect with Charlottes character. Her obsession with her boyfriend was a bit much at times but some of that could be explained by the fact that, because of the “needs,” she may have naturally tended to invest that level of intensity into everything including her relationships with others. There were also quite a few holes in the plot as well as many unanswered questions about the mythology behind “The Forgotten.” Throughout the story, I alternated between being fascinated by and put off by a condition that would seem to push Charlotte toward what is essentially suicide and I really would have liked a lot more clarification about that. Then there were the secondary characters, Monroe and Onika and boyfriend Harlin. These characters seemed a bit weak and one dimensional. There was definitely a disconnect as far as they were concerned. I was left with more questions than answers by the end of this book. For some reason, all of the pieces of the puzzle didn’t quite come together for me.
With that being said, the plot and characters were certainly strong enough to hold my interest throughout the entirety of this book and after that jaw-dropping ending, I will definitely be back for more. I am eagerly anticipating reading A Want So Wicked, and I hope that what I did not understand with this book will be cleared up in the sequel.
Much of the disconnect I felt may have been due to the narration in the audio I listened to. This was one of the worst audio narrations I’ve ever listened to. It truly speaks to the strength of the plot and story that I was able to listen to this complete audio. The English? accent that this narrator used for Monroe and the Russian? accent used for Onika was painfully annoying as was the cloyingly cutesy voice used for Charlotte’s best friend Sarah. If want to get this book, choose the print or eBook.
Ultimately, I enjoyed A Need So Beautiful because of the original premise and interesting main character. While I felt the book had some definite flaws, I would still recommend it to those who have been looking for something fresh and new in YA fantasy.