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Rouge: A Novel av Mona Awad
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Rouge: A Novel (utgåvan 2023)

av Mona Awad (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
265999,094 (3.55)5
For as long as she can remember, Belle has been insidiously obsessed with her skin and skincare videos. When her estranged mother Noelle mysteriously dies, Belle finds herself back in Southern California, dealing with her mother's considerable debts and grappling with lingering questions about her death. The stakes escalate when a strange woman in red appears at the funeral, offering a tantalising clue about her mother's demise, followed by a cryptic video about a transformative spa experience. With the help of a pair of red shoes, Belle is lured into the barbed embrace of La Maison de Mduse, the same lavish, culty spa to which her mother was devoted. There, Belle discovers the frightening secret behind her (and her mother's) obsession with the mirror - and the great shimmering depths (and demons) that lurk on the other side of the glass. Snow White meets Eyes Wide Shut in this surreal descent into the dark side of beauty, envy grief and the complicated love between mothers and daughters. With black humour and seductive horror, Rouge explores the cult-like nature of the beauty industry - as well as the danger of internalizing its pitiless gaze.… (mer)
Medlem:amyofdoom
Titel:Rouge: A Novel
Författare:Mona Awad (Författare)
Info:S&S/ Marysue Rucci Books (2023), 384 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Rouge av Mona Awad

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» Se även 5 omnämnanden

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Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC!

I wanted to like this more than I did, I found myself getting lost in the prose and desperate for more of a through line in the story. The imagery was beautiful throughout, but I just wanted more substance to the characters and their motivations. ( )
  eboods | Feb 28, 2024 |
DNF when I was simply scanning over everything still at page 100. I love Awad's writing and stories, but I am just not interested in beauty or vanity.
  ocassim | Feb 27, 2024 |
I am struggling to review this book without being too negative, because I think there is a large audience who would get something out of it. Fans of this author's brand of "weird" or people who like reading about damaged women who are preyed on by cults would enjoy this. In the end Rouge was trying too hard to be edgy (lots of reviews describing it as a "fever dream") but it lacked substance.

Rouge is kicked off when Belle's mother dies unexpectedly in a mysterious accident, so Belle must travel to Southern California to tie up loose ends. She and her mom had this complicated relationship, most of which is either repressed or is described through her exceedingly unreliable memories. The night after the funeral, Belle puts on a pair of red shoes that she finds in her mom's apartment, which lead her to a mysterious spa by the ocean. After that, she starts to possibly descend into madness brought on by youthening "free treatments" from this spa that her mother was frequenting (and plowed all her money into) before her death. This is all dressed up with lots of allusions to classic European fairy tales (most notably, The Red Shoes, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, and, to a lesser extent, Beauty and the Beast and maybe Bluebeard) and some Egyptian mythology.

This seems like it could be a great satire of the beauty industry, but I found it more frustrating than enjoyable. First, it was far too long, with two male characters whose existence seemed completely unnecessary. There's a section in which her spa treatment and its aftermath, and her *second* spa treatment and *its* aftermath, are described in detail, with the same events, dialogue, imagery, etc. repeated. (I'm aware that in fairy tales things often happen 3 times, with the third time being the change in the pattern. I still think there would have been a more succinct way to allude to this idea. The middle 100 pages felt loooong.)

Of course the main character is a featureless dope with no personality or motivation (of course!). This is also a fairy tale element, and it's one that works fine when you're reading or listening to a short story, but it becomes tedious over the course of nearly 400 pages. Plus we've now had decades of woman-forward retellings of classic fairy tales, so it's not at all mind-blowing to point out that "princess" characters are hollow and bland.

Finally, what bugged me the most is that so many things just didn't make sense. If it's all in Belle's head and she's having a psychotic break brought on by grief about her mom, that's fine. However, there are elements that can't be explained by the "it was all a dream/psychotic episode" interpretation, so I think we have to conclude that there's something supernatural going on. If the explanation is "shrug, things happen in this world that we can never understand or explain" that's also fine! But writing a surrealist book is not a license to give up on trying to make its internal logic cohere. If it turns out there's an *actual* conspiracy afoot, then waving your hands and hoping all the plot holes go away is not a very satisfying strategy.

It turns out that (SPOILER) there's an evil cabal of soul-vampires led by the Egyptian god Seth who are using the contemporary beauty industry to harvest *some* souls (but they also have a perfectly legit beauty product business on the side--I guess even 4000+ year old supernatural beings still need to make bank). What? Starting to try and explain all this, and then dropping it when it becomes inconvenient is frustrating. "Just because" or "I wanted to be edgy" is not good enough. (The implication is that they have to find particularly needy/insecure people's souls to harvest, and preferably those should also be people of color [?] or maybe only self-hating mixed-race people [?]. Also, they have to find and groom these people *from childhood* so that they can eventually steal their souls 30 years later. Surely there has to be a more efficient way for soul vampires to operate and find "excellent candidates." No? Maybe not.)

Also, there was 100% too much Tom Cruise. I get it, but come on. ( )
  sansmerci | Feb 1, 2024 |
So much fun, so strange, eerie, satisfying. A little on the long side, but I liked this more than Bunny I think. Look, I might put snail slime on my face but I won't let my soul turn into a jellyfish, ok? ( )
  KallieGrace | Oct 23, 2023 |
Beauty Products Addiction
Review of the NetGalley Kindle ARC eBook obtained in advance of the official Penguin Random House Canada release (September 12, 2023)

This morning, I applied three layers of an antioxidant serum enriched with Firma-Cell, followed by seven skins of a roaring water kelp essence, followed by the IsoPlacenta Shield to smooth and tighten. Then the White Pearl Pigment Perfector mixed with the Brightening Caviar for Radiance. Then of course the Diamond-Infused Revitalizing Eye Formula, the Superdefense Multi-Correxion Moisturizing Cloud Jelly, and two layers of broad spectrum Glowscreen, physical and chemical.


I was curious to read this latest novel by Montreal-born writer Mona Awad who has been previously shortlisted for Canada’s Scotiabank Giller Prize, for “13 Ways…” (2016). Its promo synopsis promised a “horror-tinted gothic fairy tale.” It does live up to that advertising, but I have to confess it was the extended passages of beauty product applications (one example of several is quoted above) which horrified me more than the secret cult into which the main character is ensnared. That is likely an indication that this sort of surreal fantasy was not for me.

Mirabelle is drawn back to California from Montreal, Canada after the death of her mother Noelle. She discovers that her mother had gone into serious debt while becoming addicted to beauty treatments at a secretive spa. Belle finds herself drawn to the cult which seems to work on sort of a Dorian Gray principle: a person’s aging is somehow drawn off into a white amorphous jellyfish creature which enlarges and grows red in the process. In its final state, the succubi-like inhabitants of the spa indulge in a ritual which leaves the original person drained. Will Belle manage to free herself from the cult before it is too late.

While this sort of beauty treatment addiction and obsession is not really my genre I was intrigued enough to read this to its satisfying conclusion. Fans of the genre will likely enjoy it more than I could appreciate.

I read this Advance Reading Copy of Rouge in eBook format thanks to the publisher Penguin Random House Canada and the Net Galley website in exchange for which I provide this honest review.

Trivia and Links
There is a Q&A with author Mona Awad at Mona Awad explores the complexity of mother-daughter relationships in new novel for The Next Chapter, CBC Radio, September 8, 2023. ( )
  alanteder | Sep 25, 2023 |
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For as long as she can remember, Belle has been insidiously obsessed with her skin and skincare videos. When her estranged mother Noelle mysteriously dies, Belle finds herself back in Southern California, dealing with her mother's considerable debts and grappling with lingering questions about her death. The stakes escalate when a strange woman in red appears at the funeral, offering a tantalising clue about her mother's demise, followed by a cryptic video about a transformative spa experience. With the help of a pair of red shoes, Belle is lured into the barbed embrace of La Maison de Mduse, the same lavish, culty spa to which her mother was devoted. There, Belle discovers the frightening secret behind her (and her mother's) obsession with the mirror - and the great shimmering depths (and demons) that lurk on the other side of the glass. Snow White meets Eyes Wide Shut in this surreal descent into the dark side of beauty, envy grief and the complicated love between mothers and daughters. With black humour and seductive horror, Rouge explores the cult-like nature of the beauty industry - as well as the danger of internalizing its pitiless gaze.

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