June 12, 2021

#BookReview: She's Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard

Synopsis: An electric romance set against a rebel art scene sparks lethal danger for two girls in this expertly plotted YA thriller. For fans of E. Lockhart, Lauren Oliver and Kara Thomas.

The summer is winding down in San Diego. Veronica is bored, caustically charismatic, and uninspired in her photography. Nico is insatiable, subversive, and obsessed with chaotic performance art. They’re artists first, best friends second. But that was before Mick. Delicate, lonely, magnetic Mick: the perfect subject, and Veronica’s dream girl. The days are long and hot―full of adventure―and soon they are falling in love. Falling so hard, they never imagine what comes next. One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect . . . one stalker. This is a summer they won’t survive.

Inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, this sexy psychological thriller explores the intersections of love, art, danger, and power.


Rating: 2 Stars
My Review: This realistic reimagining of The Picture of Dorian Grey is one not for the light at heart. This was graphic and had graphic predictions of animals, children, and more.  So fair warning if you choose to read this one. The time line for this entire story was over the corse of 10 days which seemed a little weird.  I cant say that I really enjoyed this one and I think maybe this should have been redone for the adult crowd as it was just a little to  much for this reader. 

Go Into This One Knowing: Graphic: Animal death, Car accident, Child death, Death, Emotional abuse, Kidnapping, Panic attacks/disorders, Murder, and Violence

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-In this thriller, Mick, a blonde junior on the high school swim team and on the outs with her mother, begrudgingly attends a party with a friend and meets Veronica, a Chicana photographer with an edge. The two girls quickly hit it off, with Veronica taking a photograph of Mick immediately after their first kiss that becomes a sensation on Instagram, allowing her to break into the art world. Veronica introduces Mick to her best friend Nico, a 20-year-old brunette who creates subversive art in their San Diego region, and the two teens become willing participants in his illegal art installations. However, soon they are in over their heads as several murders and a raging fire occur and they become pawns in a larger scheme. Heard capably explores the tipping point in which a group can move from righteous anger to destruction when they let the adrenaline of the moment overtake reason. At what level do you go from political activist to eco-terrorist? Heard also captures the extreme highs and lows of teen romance. The imbalance in Veronica and Mick's relationship could push teens to explore where they would draw the line on romantic boundaries and consent. VERDICT This psychological thriller is sure to be popular with teens. A sapphic romance with elements of art, danger, and obsession, it is recommended for YA library collections.-Nancy McKay, Byron P.L., ILĪ±(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


An O Magazine 42 LGBTQ Books That Will Change the Literary Landscape This Spring Selection
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PopSugar Best March 2021 YA Book Selection

"Imagine a heady YA mixture of The Portrait of Dorian Gray and Portrait of a Lady on Fire and you'll get a sense of this seductive thriller about two girls―an aspiring photographer and her muse―who become caught up in both their own incendiary love affair and a terrifying political plot." ―O Magazine

"A smoldering, hypnotic thrill-ride. Heard’s YA debut crackles and pops with electric psychological suspense." ―Kit Frick, author of See All the StarsAll Eyes on Us, and I Killed Zoe Spanos

"An expertly plotted deep dive into a complex web of friendship, desire, and murder."―Mindy McGinnis, author of Female of the Species

"A gritty, compulsively readable thriller that shimmers with California heat. She's Too Pretty to Burn will pull you into the dark twists of the underground art scene―and the jagged embrace of first love." ―Hannah Capin, author of Foul Is Fair

"A romantic, fast-paced thriller inspired by a classic. The story unravels in colorful, electric prose...leading to exhilarating and twisty final third. This dark, winding novel expertly interweaves suspense and romance. A wild and satisfying romp." ―Kirkus ReviewsStarred Review

"This thriller is expertly paced, with Heard starting out slow to introduce her flawed, complex teen protagonists and later escalating events into a page-turning crescendo. With the already intriguing premise of a lesbian thriller that takes inspiration from Portrait of Dorian Gray in its focus on a single picture’s effect (if not the theme of aging), Heard follows through on the promises this concept offers while deftly integrating social media and a thriller plot with creepy, well-executed twists." ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's BooksStarred Review 

"Heard paints a mesmerizing portrait of love and betrayal amidst a slow-burn thriller… and once the murders begin, it’s impossible to look away."―Diana Urban, author of All Your Twisted Secrets

“An anxiety-ridden ride as two girls' lives crash together through secrets, love and danger. There is masterful tension throughout the story as Mick and Veronica's lives pull and tangle together and they find themselves in over their heads and fighting for their lives. I burned through the final 50 pages, desperate to see how it ended and was left with literal goosebumps at the final lines. Captivating and stunningly visual, fans of Lauren Oliver's Panic will love this book and be hungry for more by Wendy Heard.” ―Aiden Thomas, author of Cemetery Boys

“A powder keg of psychological suspense that recognizes the dark side lurking within all of us, this thriller had me riveted right from the very first page.”―Caleb Roehrig, author of Last Seen Leaving and White Rabbit 

She’s Too Pretty to Burn holds you by the throat until the very last page. Heard has written a perfect, ultra-modern teenage noir of early queer love and the battle to resist our most destructive impulses. Ambition is truly a killer.”―Adam Sass, author of Surrender Your Sons

“Veronica and Mick's complex, compelling relationship grounds this intense and unrelenting thriller, full of impossible choices, betrayals, mistakes, and danger.” ―Kate Alice Marshall, author of I Am Still Alive and Rules for Vanishing

"Gorgeously written and expertly paced, Wendy Heard’s She's Too Pretty to Burn is an intense, wild ride that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat until its stunning conclusion." ―Liz Lawson, author of The Lucky Ones

This psychological thriller is sure to be popular with teens. A sapphic romance with elements of art, danger, and obsession, it is recommended for YA library collections." ―School Library Journal

About the Author

Wendy Heard is the author of She's Too Pretty To Burn, as well as two adult thrillers: The Kill Club and Hunting Annabelle, which Kirkus praised as “a diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.” She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America, is a contributor at Crimereads, and co-hosts the Unlikeable Female Characters podcast. Wendy lives in Los Angeles, California.

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