Author: Dan Wells
Rating: 3 / 5 stars rating
Verdict: Borrow / Bury
In a culture where we can be anything we want, only one thing is certain: Nobody wants to be themselves.
As a woman who has always categorized myself as a “tomboy”, I loved the first half of this novel. It amazes me how much makeup women wear; the kicker is the “nude” tones where the whole point is not to notice the makeup (to which I must ponder, what is the point?). We spend millions and billions on waxes and laser hair removal, surgery to make breasts larger, surgery to make them smaller, surgery to change our lips and noses… everything under the sun. And why? I still don’t know. Even models and actresses are airbrushed on magazines. Needless to say, the topic of this novel struck a chord with me. The fact that Dan Wells wrote it was another perk.
Unfortunately, Extreme Makeover loses it steam as more and more people fall victim to NewYew’s (love the name) ReBirth. I will be the first to admit biology and genetics are not my science of choice, but one of the things I’ve heard is that immortality at the moment is not limited by our DNA but by our blood cells (as in, our blood cells can only divide and split so many times before they atrophy). So I’m not entirely sure I buy into all the science used in this horror tale of lotion that can reproduce DNA and turn someone into someone else completely. Along these lines, though, I love this quote:
“You can change what people look like,” said Susan, “but you can never change who they are.”
While the science did not bother me greatly, Extreme Makeover felt a little bit like Wells didn’t know where he wanted to go with the plot. While I understand part of the satire is that the beauty company marketing the best improvement to life ever destroys the world, the actual end of the world was more of a fizzle as the stream ran dry. While I powered through the beginning of the novel, I dragged through the latter portions as Lyle bounces around between companies, prisons, and government agencies to try to save the world. And the ending? I loved Lyle’s choice (it felt poetic), but in the end I’m not sure I enjoyed the plot entirely. I’m definitely on the fence with this novel.