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Face

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Life is competitive; all the best babies are designed now. Schuyler and Madeline Burroughs have the perfect Face—rich and powerful enough to assure their dominance in society. But in SchAddie’s household, cracks are beginning to appear. Schuyler is bored and taking risks. Maddie is becoming brittle, her happiness ever more fleeting. And their menial is fighting the most biza Life is competitive; all the best babies are designed now. Schuyler and Madeline Burroughs have the perfect Face—rich and powerful enough to assure their dominance in society. But in SchAddie’s household, cracks are beginning to appear. Schuyler is bored and taking risks. Maddie is becoming brittle, her happiness ever more fleeting. And their menial is fighting the most bizarre compulsions. In Face, skin color is an aesthetic choice designed by professionals, consent is a pre-checked box on the path to social acceptance, and your online profile isn’t just the most important thing—it’s the only thing. Face is a novel about the lies we allow ourselves to believe in order to make us feel whole.


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Life is competitive; all the best babies are designed now. Schuyler and Madeline Burroughs have the perfect Face—rich and powerful enough to assure their dominance in society. But in SchAddie’s household, cracks are beginning to appear. Schuyler is bored and taking risks. Maddie is becoming brittle, her happiness ever more fleeting. And their menial is fighting the most biza Life is competitive; all the best babies are designed now. Schuyler and Madeline Burroughs have the perfect Face—rich and powerful enough to assure their dominance in society. But in SchAddie’s household, cracks are beginning to appear. Schuyler is bored and taking risks. Maddie is becoming brittle, her happiness ever more fleeting. And their menial is fighting the most bizarre compulsions. In Face, skin color is an aesthetic choice designed by professionals, consent is a pre-checked box on the path to social acceptance, and your online profile isn’t just the most important thing—it’s the only thing. Face is a novel about the lies we allow ourselves to believe in order to make us feel whole.

58 review for Face

  1. 5 out of 5

    Aubrei K (earlgreypls)

    3⭐️ Face is a dystopian about a society where “saving face” is the only thing that matters. Everyone spends lots of time in essentially a virtual reality environment, and no one is ever genuine. Skin to skin contact is taboo, and many people have “menials” which are humans bred to be servants - who are seen as subhuman. I love dystopian, and I was really excited about this. However, the author took some risky creative liberties with the organization of the story, and i’m not quite sure they paid 3⭐️ Face is a dystopian about a society where “saving face” is the only thing that matters. Everyone spends lots of time in essentially a virtual reality environment, and no one is ever genuine. Skin to skin contact is taboo, and many people have “menials” which are humans bred to be servants - who are seen as subhuman. I love dystopian, and I was really excited about this. However, the author took some risky creative liberties with the organization of the story, and i’m not quite sure they paid off. For example, the same scenes were retold up to 3 times by each character involved. Instead of giving us a glimpse into each characters perception of the event, it just became overly repetitive. Not only was the dialogue the same, but sometimes the narration didn’t even change either. This also meant we were constantly going forward in time.. then we’d go backwards to replay the same scene from another characters POV. It was disorienting. I think the author is a skilled writer, and I was SO interested in many of these characters. However, we would get to know one character, finally something interesting would happen with them, then we’d never hear about them again. I felt so frustrated. I think this would’ve been an easy 4 or 5 stars for me had the book focused on a longer timeline of the lives of only a few characters - rather than replaying the same events of many. One of the things I love about dystopian is the social commentary. There were so many aspects of our world touched on in this book (race, class, sexuality, etc.), but they were a bit too heavy handed for my liking. I finished the book and wasn’t left with anything other than some obvious parallels having been pointed out - but not much meaningful commentary. Overall I had fun reading this book (I will always love the genre!!) but it’s not a new favorite. The author displays great potential though and I’d love to read more of their work in the future!! Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sharvani

    When I started reading this book I thought it would be a 3 star read at best, but it slowly inched its way up the rating ladder as I thought more and more about the way it treats its subject matter. Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan/Tor-Forge for an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. It was different, but also a lot more impressive than I thought it would be. Content warning: masturbation Set in a dystopian setting where any form of skin-to-skin contact is regarded as a form of p When I started reading this book I thought it would be a 3 star read at best, but it slowly inched its way up the rating ladder as I thought more and more about the way it treats its subject matter. Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan/Tor-Forge for an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. It was different, but also a lot more impressive than I thought it would be. Content warning: masturbation Set in a dystopian setting where any form of skin-to-skin contact is regarded as a form of perversion, any show of vulnerability is always supposed to be treated with disdain, and maintaining 'face' is all that matters, this is a solid and impressive debut that has handled many themes - race, class, keeping up appearances - in a rather unique way. The author has a set of characters of interest - Shuyler, his partner Madeleine, and his two daughters Reyna and Naomi, along with a few chapters in the POV of their friends, their menial Jake, as well as one of Naomi's teachers. She details a certain set of events that happen through most of their perspectives, which might make the narration seem a little redundant. This is an impressive bold choice, and it was pretty much on the good side for me. It was interesting to see how various characters behaved with each other, and follow their thoughts on the situations that arose, as each of their perspectives explored different aspects of the underlying themes that have been handled quite impressively. The setting is also as, if not more interesting. These characters all exist in a culture where technology has progressed to such an extent, that it is the norm to have experts design babies that mostly contrast the aesthetic of the parents, having skin contact is not an entertained thought, and most people's lives revolve around climbing their way up the ladder, or ensuring they stay up there by means of keeping up culturally accepted appearances that are somehow similar, but also quite different from our own. But I do find myself wishing that the author offered us more insight into the culture this story is steeped in. There are a lot of books out there that have similar themes, especially ones that deal with racism and classism, but the author has done a phenomenal job of exploring them using interactions between the characters of differing social stature that have gargantuan applicability to how we live. In particular, it was the way privilege was described that will stay with me for long: "Naomi, nothing has ever been fair. You should just be glad you're at the level you're at where, as long as you maintain your facevalue, you can pretty much lie back and coast through life." I'll be honest here, this book has many more such gems in it that can open the door to considerable discussion about all the ideas it depicts. Most readers often claim that the dystopian books that are hard-hitting are often the ones that don't seem very far removed from being believable transitions away from the world we presently live in. I fully agree with them. But with this book, Joma West shows us that even dystopian books that have a much stranger setting can explore themes that bring about thoughts of similarity with the culture we live in. Instagram | Twitter

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sharvani

    When I started reading this book I thought it would be a 3 star read at best, but it slowly inched its way up the rating ladder as I thought more and more about the way this book treats its subject matter. Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan/Tor-Forge for an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. It was different, but also a lot more impressive than I thought it would be. Content warning: masturbation Set in a dystopian setting where any form of skin-to-skin contact is regarded as a fo When I started reading this book I thought it would be a 3 star read at best, but it slowly inched its way up the rating ladder as I thought more and more about the way this book treats its subject matter. Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan/Tor-Forge for an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. It was different, but also a lot more impressive than I thought it would be. Content warning: masturbation Set in a dystopian setting where any form of skin-to-skin contact is regarded as a form of perversion, any show of vulnerability is always supposed to be treated with disdain, and maintaining 'face' is all that matters, this is a solid and impressive debut that has handled many themes - race, class, keeping up appearances - in a rather unique way. The author has a set of characters of interest - Shuyler, his partner Madeleine, and his two daughters Reyna and Naomi, along with a few chapters in the POV of their friends, their menial Jake, as well as one of Naomi's teachers. She details a certain set of events that happen through most of their perspectives, which might make the narration seem a little redundant. This is an impressive bold choice, and it was pretty much on the good side for me. It was interesting to see how various characters behaved with each other, and follow their thoughts on the situations that arose, as each of their perspectives explored different aspects of the underlying themes that have been handled quite impressively. The setting is also as interesting. These characters all exist in a culture where technology has progressed to such an extent, that it is the norm to have experts design babies that mostly contrast the aesthetic of the parents, having skin contact is not an entertained thought, and most people's lives revolve around climbing their way up the ladder, or ensuring they stay up there by means of keeping up culturally accepted appearances that are somehow similar, but also quite different from our own. But I do find myself wishing that the author offered us more insight into the culture this story is steeped in. There are a lot of books out there that have similar themes, especially ones that deal with racism and classism, but the author has done a phenomenal job of exploring them using interactions between the characters of differing social stature that have gargantuan applicability with how we live. In particular, it was the way privilege was described that will stay with me for long: "Naomi, nothing has ever been fair. You should just be glad you're at the level you're at where, as long as you maintain your facevalue, you can pretty much lie back and coast through life." I'll be honest here, this book has many more such gems in it that can open the door to considerable discussion about all the ideas it depicts. Most readers often claim that the dystopian books that are hard-hitting are often the ones that don't seem very far removed from being believable transitions away from the world we presently live in. I fully agree with them. But with this book, Joma West shows us that even dystopian books that have a much stranger setting can explore themes that bring about thoughts of similarity with the culture we live in.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bookgrrl

    3.5 stars So we’ve all heard the terms “saving face“, “losing face“, “facing the world“, etc. And how about “climbing the ladder”? Well, this book has taken all of these idioms to the next level, and they are how these characters live their lives. Everything in life is about your face, the face you present to the world, both literally and figuratively. On the literal side, those who are lower on the ladder are conceived as “beaker babies“, but those higher on the ladder have the means to use “stu 3.5 stars So we’ve all heard the terms “saving face“, “losing face“, “facing the world“, etc. And how about “climbing the ladder”? Well, this book has taken all of these idioms to the next level, and they are how these characters live their lives. Everything in life is about your face, the face you present to the world, both literally and figuratively. On the literal side, those who are lower on the ladder are conceived as “beaker babies“, but those higher on the ladder have the means to use “stud farms“ for their babies. They can medically choose just about anything with regards to the babies’ appearance, and it is all done to enhance the standing of the parents (frankly the children don’t really matter all that much). On the figurative side, it’s about the faces you put forth on the In (internet); they might be even more important than the Out (real world). This book is basically one set timeline, that is told repeatedly from each characters point of view. This was an interesting exercise, to see the different viewpoints, but with the exception of Jake the menial (servant, seen as a thing & not a real person) there wasn’t enough of a difference to warrant this style. Pretty much every character is at best anxious and unsure, and at worst a sociopath. I would’ve been curious to see this book told as one continuous timeline and follow it through after the ending, to see if that shakes anything up. But it is an interesting read. Thank you to NetGalley & Macmillan-Tor/Forge for this advanced reader copy. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    3/5 stars. I struggled with summarizing this one, because I felt that the setting had a lot of promise for the themes to explore, but ultimately felt let down by the delivery. I looked around for other's analysis, certain that I'm missing the key piece that makes it more clear. It was like sitting at a restaurant counter, watching a meal being prepared for someone else. I recognized the ingredients going, could imagine what the meal would taste like, but based on where I was sitting, couldn't tas 3/5 stars. I struggled with summarizing this one, because I felt that the setting had a lot of promise for the themes to explore, but ultimately felt let down by the delivery. I looked around for other's analysis, certain that I'm missing the key piece that makes it more clear. It was like sitting at a restaurant counter, watching a meal being prepared for someone else. I recognized the ingredients going, could imagine what the meal would taste like, but based on where I was sitting, couldn't taste the final dish. I am hopeful that others' insight will come after this book is released and more can read it. Overview: This world is a future where your social presence means everything - Everyone maintains their "Face" - their embodied image and personality, where every look or word can get you shunned or unlock doors to higher status. We follow a cast of characters, mainly centered around the high elite family with head patriarch Schuyler Burroughs. Schuyler is the cream of the crop - genetically perfected and handsome from a prestigious background - he is fluent in cultivating his social image. The perfect celebrity, where the man and the symbol are intertwined. I really enjoyed hearing from Jake, the menial. Despite society's classification, he was the most human as he explored his real emotions and tried to understand himself. The opening chapters bought a raw, realistic tone that I was hopeful portended the direction of the story. These sections punched through as fresh, fantastic writing, like horseradish on the nose. Ok, enough food analogies. However, even when in the story the role of menials is questioned, there is no resolution. As we moved into the eyes of the Burrough's family and those higher on the social ladder flattened out. It felt as though everyone was on Xanax, struggling to be human in these isolating social expectations. This was the point, I know. But these expectations were never questioned in the book. During some initial introductions, we meet a doctor who repeatedly cuts with "talk to me straight - don't play games". This is supposed to be a sharp contrast from everyone else stuck in their roles, but because this was an *introduction*, the pattern had not yet been made clear that this is wildly out of the norm. Additionally, every other character responded positively to this upturning, and there were zero repercussions from this change of tact. It immediately lessened the stakes when they were developed later - we already saw there wasn't a ramifications from abandoning your Face. Perhaps that's the meta-lesson we're to get - that even in the real world, people's presentation matter much less than our self-centered selves would think. But I don't think that was the intent. Themes: This book certainly touches on the themes of classism (an overt caste system where "menials" are considered subhuman), racism, privilege, how social media impact your sense of self and the weight from family obligations. Unfortunately, while the story points at these systemic things, I don't know if any lessons or resonant commentary are imparted. To the racism part - this story is an future where babies are all genetically designed, and are modeled as a reflection of their parents. Instead of the Punnett square of the parent's genes, babies are deliberately chosen to have skin color and personalities that differ, yet pair aesthetically to signify the parents' status. This is really the only commentary about race - in this world, it's a choice of aesthetics and that's it. Parents sit with a doctor, scrolling through a color swatches like paint shopping. Except for it being nice that this trait not bringing any baggage, I didn't feel that much was said about it. Prose: Narratively, there is a lot of repetition. Each discussion is played out from the vantage of every participant, which is a bold choice that should payoff with a lot of additional insight on these characters. However, most inner thoughts are shown by their external behavior (they roll their eyes, slouch, etc.), so we already knew what they were thinking the first time around. This was also an important place to deepen these purposefully-shallowed people, to see that still waters run deep. Unfortunately, many of my first impressions matched their final characterizations. Again, there were flashes of great writing that made me sit up straight. So often, these stories about numbed people living numb lives sounds... numb. But this one added the necessary viewpoint from Jake that made the contrast so sharp. While the broader message felt flat for me, the writing style and confidence shown in choosing the narrative structure gives me great hope for this authors' future.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chantaal

    6/22: Just won an ARC of this from Tor...my heart is theirs

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tashan

    I really enjoyed this book and thought the writing was excellent, but I do wish there had been a little more world building so I had a better grasp on the society I was reading about. The story kept me engaged and reading more, but I do think if it had been written without the repeated story line from other POVs but instead building on the plot itself I would have given this five stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chad Cunningham

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. Okay. So I really loved this book. When I started I didn't know that I would, but about halfway through I realized I was completely smitten. In the world of Face people are defined by their social presence and the face they present to the world. These faces are facades and constructions, games played, and secrets kept. Society is hyper hierarchical. Touch is almost unheard of for the upper tiers. The rigid hierarchy, and phys I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. Okay. So I really loved this book. When I started I didn't know that I would, but about halfway through I realized I was completely smitten. In the world of Face people are defined by their social presence and the face they present to the world. These faces are facades and constructions, games played, and secrets kept. Society is hyper hierarchical. Touch is almost unheard of for the upper tiers. The rigid hierarchy, and physical and emotional distance, create a culture where slavery has once again become the norm. Menials are bred and trained to do nothing but serve. Owning a menial is a sign of power, a set up the ladder. The author explores the world through a story told via multiple points of view. Each chapter has a different narrator, and events are examined and re-examined throughout the novel, with each iteration giving more context and emotional depth. I enjoyed this book a lot. Highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This book had a very interesting concept and some intriguing characters. However, I wasn't a fan of how you had to sit through the same conversations multiple times from different points of view. If I read a scene from one character's perspective near the beginning, it is not interesting to read the same conversation word-for-word 100 pages later in another character's chapter, especially since these new perspectives did not offer brand new information. There was essentially no plot within the c This book had a very interesting concept and some intriguing characters. However, I wasn't a fan of how you had to sit through the same conversations multiple times from different points of view. If I read a scene from one character's perspective near the beginning, it is not interesting to read the same conversation word-for-word 100 pages later in another character's chapter, especially since these new perspectives did not offer brand new information. There was essentially no plot within the commentary which made it less interesting than it could've been. I received an Advanced Readers Copy through a Goodreads giveaway.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amber Kiep

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was immediately drawn into the book as soon as I opened the cover. It's a great story, a creative commentary on the "faces" we present to the world, and how our worth is connected to that. I loved everything about the book, up until it started getting repetitive. I understand why the author chose that route, and I think that this would be a great book for a literature class or a book club for discussions; however, I got bored with how repetitive the wording was, and I ended up just scanning th I was immediately drawn into the book as soon as I opened the cover. It's a great story, a creative commentary on the "faces" we present to the world, and how our worth is connected to that. I loved everything about the book, up until it started getting repetitive. I understand why the author chose that route, and I think that this would be a great book for a literature class or a book club for discussions; however, I got bored with how repetitive the wording was, and I ended up just scanning through the last few chapters of the book instead of sitting down and enjoying it through the last page as I prefer with my leisure readings. Besides that, loved it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bridgette

    Face is a dystopic novel where putting your best "face" forward is EVERYTHING. The technology of the time is very advanced - something we could not even comprehend in today's day and age. Social acceptance is based on how perfect you are. The novel starts off slow, but does pick up by midway in. It is interesting story and did keep my attention throughout. Face is a dystopic novel where putting your best "face" forward is EVERYTHING. The technology of the time is very advanced - something we could not even comprehend in today's day and age. Social acceptance is based on how perfect you are. The novel starts off slow, but does pick up by midway in. It is interesting story and did keep my attention throughout.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa McGuire

    I really thought i would just eat this book up. The ending disappointed me a lot.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Lesniak

    This book was a very interesting read. I liked the concept. One thing that bothered me was reading practically the same scenario for the whole book but from a different perspective.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Catisha Scavairello

    I won this book from a giveaway. Thanks to the responsible parties. Here's my honest review. The concept was good. It does show how social media can be turned into too much of a good thing. One thing bothered me more than anything. Most stories progress from beginning through the end. This one was stuck in a very odd time loop. It's the same story and conversations told from different perspectives. If a person wanted to, they could skip pages and not miss anything. Why? Chances are they read the I won this book from a giveaway. Thanks to the responsible parties. Here's my honest review. The concept was good. It does show how social media can be turned into too much of a good thing. One thing bothered me more than anything. Most stories progress from beginning through the end. This one was stuck in a very odd time loop. It's the same story and conversations told from different perspectives. If a person wanted to, they could skip pages and not miss anything. Why? Chances are they read the same thing earlier (conversations). Overall, I was disappointed. (No offense to the author)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    DNF. 😒

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maryellen Fricke

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cassie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Candice Daquin

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lula

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rose

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle Belisle

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mirto

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melody

  25. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  26. 4 out of 5

    AuntieYorgaReads (Laura)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Janet Barrett

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nisha Uddin

  29. 5 out of 5

    Raenor Spence

  30. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jill

  32. 5 out of 5

    Alessandra

  33. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Gailey

  34. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Reidy

  35. 5 out of 5

    alexa

  36. 5 out of 5

    Giovana

  37. 5 out of 5

    Arturo Bory

  38. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

  39. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  40. 4 out of 5

    Catarina

  41. 4 out of 5

    Auston Habershaw

  42. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  43. 5 out of 5

    Justine

  44. 4 out of 5

    Anissa

  45. 4 out of 5

    L.Jayde

  46. 4 out of 5

    Tess Grover

  47. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Koehn

  48. 5 out of 5

    Jack Webb

  49. 4 out of 5

    Alex Moore

  50. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  51. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Bartoshevich

  52. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

  53. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

  54. 5 out of 5

    elise p

  55. 5 out of 5

    Isabella

  56. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  57. 4 out of 5

    Juanita

  58. 4 out of 5

    Saana

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