Picks and Pans Review: Just Like Beauty
Mutant grasshoppers are invading suburbia, a suicide cult is promoting what it calls "happy endings," and 14-year-old Edie Stein is stymied by the Electric Polyrubber Man competition, an event in her town's Feminine Women of Conscience Pageant that requires seducing a male robot. Edie's clumsy come-ons are a farce, since she has already fallen for the mystery girl across the street.
This is a gutsy and wildly imaginative first novel, a satirical coming-of-age tale set in a dystopic near future. It's a freak show, but with human touches about the need for motherly approval and the ecstasy of first love. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24)
Bottom Line: Beautiful debut