Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Review Dead Beautiful

464 pages

Published 2010
Author's Website

"The secrets that aren't found out are buried well. And probably for a reason" pg 56


Renée Winters is leading a typical teenage life in California. All Renée knows is about to change when she mysteriously locates the bodies of both her parents in a vast forest. After finding her parents dead her new legal guardian who happens to be her estranged grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy where Renée begins to realize her life is anything but ordinary. The school itself seems obsessed with death from the teaching of Latin, the language of the dead, to teachers who are infatuated with burial rituals. Not exactly a comforting place for a girl who just lost her world.

Renée arrives at the school as a lost soul but she begins to find her niche making friends and yes meeting the requisite mysterious dangerously good looking boy, Dante. As in all good stories Dante has a secret and as Renée tries to figure out her counterpart she realizes that he is not the only one with a secret. Gottfried Academy seems to have a few mysteries of its own which most likely will not bode well for our heroine.

The book is essentially about a normal girl who realizes that she may not be so normal after all. Yes it is a common theme, practically a requirement, for young adult paranormal fiction today but the author, Yvonne Woon, weaves a mystery that is not so common. Mystery is at the core of the story going in a direction that is not readily recognized. This is not your typical paranormal book no vampires, shape shifters, or fairies in sight. The mystery cultivated within the book gives a lot of back story based on writings of philosophical greats, such as Danté and Pluto. Pretty early on it is noticeable that the naming of the main characters Renée and Dante is no coincidence.

First Renée’s parents die in a strange manner and then she learns a previous student died the exact same way. Coincidence? I think not and Renée being the smart girl she is doesn’t believe it either. As she investigates these deaths apparent accidents run rampant on campus. Our heroine sets out to discover exactly what Gottfried Academy is hiding while learning that she is more to the world…and herself than she ever imagined. The plot kept this reader on her toes. While reading I felt like I was putting together a puzzle, Ms. Woon kept giving me pieces but I couldn’t quite put them together until three quarters of the way through the book. I don’t know about you but I find myself getting annoyed when I start a book and can figure out the plot in a few pages…usually making the book drag. Not the case with Dead Beautiful I wanted to know what was going on with Gottfried Academy and why Renée’s parent died such a freaky death. The mystery made the book hard to put down.

If mystery is the core of the book then Renée and Dante’s blossoming relationship is its heart. I have to admit they are a cute pair. The description of Dante as “both more overwhelming and more delicate” wasn’t exactly a turn on for me pg 63….I prefer the male characters to be more handsome then beautiful but Dante is definitely appealing even sexy. Their relationship is romantic, funny, and hot at the same time…if that makes sense.

So while I loved the mystery the book creates the reveal is a bit anticlimactic. We find out what has been happening to the students at the Academy…or do we? It happened too fast for me, I would have liked more of an explanation of the untimely demise of the students and the accidents happening around the school. When I began the book I was not sure if this was the start of a series or not. The cliffhanger ending left no doubt that this is the start of a series. I hope that the next book explains more about why these deaths occurred and why the person or persons responsible did it.

So the bottom line…..Should you read it? I vote yes. Yvonne Woon’s first book is a beautifully sculpted love story shrouded in mystery. The descriptions in the book allowed me to see Renée’s world clearly….I can still picture Gottfried Academy in my mind as this darkly beautiful victorian place. The book draws the reader in. I think we all deserve a break from the real world for a bit and I think you will find Dead Beautiful is an intriguing world to get lost in.

On a sidenote check out the author's website...I love the design. 

Leave a comment to start a discussion on the book. 



nicole said...

Thanks for the review...this is another book that I would not have picked up. Now that I read your review, I will definitely be buying this book.