By Annie Barrett
Updated September 25, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Hobbie and Kari are outsiders. He’s got horrible acne; she’s obese. But they really love each other! The setup of Doug Crandell’s novel is so Ugly Betty, don’t you have to love them back? Not quite. After a bear attacks Hobbie while Kari’s away at a weight-loss facility, he begrudgingly surrounds himself with other people while longing for the company of just one. Crandell is on target stylistically with The Flawless Skin of Ugly People‘s keen, careful accounts of loneliness, self-loathing, and zits popping forcefully onto a mirror. But his unrealistic, hyper-dramatized turns of plot threaten to drown out any possible payoff. B