She's Too Pretty to Burn / Wendy Heard / Book Review


Veronica is bored. High school parties, high school drama: it's beneath her. Nothing is interesting--until she spots Mick. Mick is the most beautiful girl Veronica has ever seen. Tan, athletic: the only problem is Mick is photo shy, and for photographer Veronica, that is a problem indeed. Veronica needs Mick's picture, and she gets it: a candid shot on a moving train right after their first kiss.

Veronica promises Mick the photo won't go anywhere, but Veronica shares it anyway. When the photograph goes viral, Mick and Veronica are thrust into a world of high art and exhibitions. For Veronica, the backstage scene of artists and installations is old news, but for Mick, it is brand new. Mick just wants to survive high school. Mick doesn't want fame. She doesn't want her photo all over the internet.

But when Mick's mother kicks her out of the house, she dives fully into the world that will welcome her: San Diego's subversive underground art scene. There she meets Nico, an artist with a cause. But the art and the artists Mick and Veronica befriend may be more than they can handle, as deadly as they are creative.



Underground Art Scene Buckets of blood and environmental vandalism: what isn't thrilling about that? The art and artists in this book are radically political. They plan to make a statement, to rebel against the world. These pages are full of chaotic artistic energy--in a good way. The art is fun and weird and gross and avant garde--all up to the point that it takes a turn for the worst.

Fast Pace Even when there were problems in this book that made it difficult for me to enjoy, the fast and chaotic pace made it easy for me to keep going. The momentum never drops. This book may not be to everyone's taste. In fact, it will not be to everyone's taste, but it is quick and easy to make it to the end regardless.

Killer Psychology This book is told in two perspectives right up until the end. The end adds a third perspective, a perspective that employs second person: a serial killer talking to his next victim. Second person is a difficult narrative choice to write because it is a difficult perspective for the readers to fully appreciate. But this killer-voice use is one of the few where that work very well--adding a creepy element otherwise difficult to achieve.


Right from the beginning, the characters are full of angst. I don't mind a little angst, but everything in this book was just so... dramatic. It was hyperbolic, almost. There are some who will like this. That is to say, the melodrama was tastefully done if you like melodrama. I, however, do not. It was not to my taste at all. Melodrama

At first, I couldn't pinpoint the problem. One of the perspectives was working for me more than the other, and I couldn't say why. Flipping between perspectives was jarring. It was difficult to sink into the story, and I figured it had something to do with the tense. Except, I told myself, first person past tense is pretty standard. So what was the problem? The problem was that one of the perspectives was past tense. One was present tense. Maybe this was meant to help readers distinguish between the perspectives, but honestly, it was not good. Distinguishing between different first person narrators should be done with voice and not with tense switching nonsense. Sorry, not sorry about this critique. Tense Jumping

The focus on body was partially intentional. This is a book steeped in art, after all. But the intention here was overshadowed by the reality. The reality was that the focus on body and body parts was uncomfortable, especially when there was questionable consent involved. It was hard to read. There is a chaotic toxicity in the pages of this book that is also, partly, intentional, but it wasn't fully dissected--and this body focus wasn't fully dissected either. Intentionality needs to be clear, and this just didn't feel intentional enough to push away the problems I had with it. Hyper Body Focus



Fans of the high-stakes high school drama of Diana Urban's All Your Twisted Secrets will enjoy this angsty new read. Those who like a laissez-faire world with unexpectedly deadly consequences like the bourgeoise world of e. lockhart's We Were Liars will appreciate this underground scene of art and artists.


Publisher: Henry, Holt and Co. (BYR)
Date: March 30, 2021
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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