Book Review: Faceless – Alyssa Sheinmel


Maisie has a good life, she has a boyfriend whom she loves, a great best friend and athletic ability. While out on a run her life changes forever, after a freak accident during a lightning storm leaves her left for dead, she could never imagine her new reality when she wakes up. Maisie wakes up with most of her face destroyed. After coming to the decision to have a face transplant Maisie should feel lucky, but instead she’s fighting herself. How can she look at herself ever again? Will she ever have a normal life, friends? Or will she be confined to first her hospital room and then her house, living the life of a freak?

I picked this up on offer at my local Waterstones a while ago after reading the blurb and immediately wanting to read it. Since reading Katie Piper’s books and meeting her last year  disfigurement has been something I’ve been really interested in. The fact that Sheinmel has chosen to write about something that most people have had no experience with or wouldn’t understand just shows her guts as a writer. Very few could pull this off but she has done it with care, attention and incredible character voice. Maisie really comes into her own within a few chapters and we begin to see the complex and difficult situation that no one expects to deal with playing out in front of her.

I will warn you the book is an emotional one, you feel as if you are living alongside Maisie throughout her ordeal. You want to cry when she hates herself or when she feels like giving you. I wanted to reach through the pages and hug her. You also learn a lot though, it’s clear that a lot of research went into this book in the way of medical and the emotional process of someone who is learning to cope with a disfigurement. It also makes you think about other types of injury. I know that there were times when I understood and felt so close to Maisie because I’d felt those same feelings, especially after I had my own accident and we didn’t know what was going to happen (there was a point when we weren’t sure if I was going to lose total feeling in my legs). I felt the confusion, the pain, the expectation from those around you and I understood when she wasn’t sure if she could carry on with her physic therapy, the days when she didn’t feel like it was worth it.

My reasoning for giving it 4.5 rather than a straight 5 stars is simply because I found Maisie to be a little too perfect prior to the accident. Apart from her parents fighting she just seemed very much the all American girl. I guess that’s the only thing that niggled at me a little and it’s not to say it was bad it was just something that meant I didn’t connect to her as much at first. Although within a few chapters I was liking her more and more and by the end of the book I just wanted to know her, if that makes sense?

All in all I would highly recommend this book, it’s incredibly well written and tackles something that most people wouldn’t give too much thought to unless it happened to them or someone they loved. It’s clear that Sheinmel has clear talent and is one to watch on the YA scene. I would also love to hear what happened to Maisie after the end of the novel, how she deals with the rest of her life because I really did fall in love with the character in the end.

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