Review: Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel

Review: Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel


Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Main themes: Self-Acceptance, Body Image

Rating: 4 stars

At one point or another, we’ve probably heard about someone who’s suffered second or even third degree burns. But I know I was shocked when I read about the main character, Maisie Winters, suffering burns so severe that parts of her face were completely destroyed.

Destroyed. The word sounds out of place here, in a hospital. Destroyed is what happens to villages in the path of tsunamis. To buildings when bombs drop. To ships that sink to the bottom of the sea. Destroyed isn’t something that happens to a thing as small as a person’s face.”

Maisie’s thoughts mirrored my own when she first learnt about the extent of her injuries. I couldn’t grasp the idea of waking up one day to find parts of my face gone but sadly this was Maisie’s reality. And to say her accident was life changing is an understatement, especially when she decides to go through with surgery for a partial face transplant…. This story really does take readers on an honest and emotional journey which goes beyond the meaning of beauty.

Faceless was a great story; it was unlike anything I’d ever read before which made it all the more engaging to read. Maisie’s injuries were really hard to read about, but the way the transplant worked was very interesting. Face transplants are extremely rare and so it was insightful being able to go into the science behind the surgery. It also shed a lot of light on what happens post surgery, such as all the medication Maisie would have to take for the rest of her life. 

But Maisie’s a teenage girl, not some science phenomenon and the author did a great job in providing a true portrayal of her experience. Being a senior in high school, there’s no doubt that Maisie was worried about her looks. We all know that being beautiful is more than just having a ‘pretty’ face but at the same time, it’s hard to ignore and get away from the fact that society puts a lot of importance on the way we look. Society is superficial and looking different is what a lot of us are afraid of, and so I’m glad that Sheinmel didn’t run away from this by trying to make Maisie overly profound from the get go. 

But there are a lot of other things that Sheinmel goes into which really shows the impact of going through with a face transplant… Like how Maisie can’t take the idea of people looking at her and seeing the ghost of someone they used to know; it hurts her that her loved ones won’t ever be able to see the girl they’d grown up loving. And then there’s also the donor of Maisie’s transplants. Maisie is plagued by guilt and is haunted by her donor’s death; she just can’t drive this girl from her thoughts. So the story really does go deep but it truly is engrossing and enjoyable to read.

So I would definitely recommend Faceless. I really love that Maisie’s account had been stripped back; all thoughts and feelings were so raw and honest that it’s hard to imagine Sheinmel herself hadn’t undergone a face transplant. It’s clear that she’s put so much into this novel to make it as realistic and absorbing as possible. I’ll definitely be reading more of her novels in the future!  

P.S I love the cover of this book! The illustration perfectly conveys what the story is about.


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