Review: Dead Beautiful

Review: Dead BeautifulDead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Series: Dead Beautiful #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 21, 2010
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 464
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Renée Winters was still an ordinary girl. She spent her summers at the beach, had the perfect best friend, and had just started dating the cutest guy at school. No one she'd ever known had died. But all that changes when she finds her parents dead in the Redwood Forest, in what appears to be a strange double murder.

After the funeral Renée’s wealthy grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious boarding school in Maine, where she finds herself studying subjects like Philosophy, Latin, and the “Crude Sciences.”

It’s there that she meets Dante Berlin, a handsome and elusive boy to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they grow closer, unexplainable things begin to happen, but Renée can’t stop herself from falling in love. It’s only when she discovers a dark tragedy in Gottfried’s past that she begins to wonder if the Academy is everything it seems.

Little does she know, Dante is the one hiding a dangerous secret, one that has him fearing for her life.

Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking read, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.

For the most part, I enjoyed Dead Beautiful, contrary to a friend’s expectations. It was a really quick read and definitely fascinating, even when frustrating. Don’t let the high page count fool you; this is a really quick read. The pace of the book is pretty fast, if anything, too fast.

The opening of the book is weak. You’re treated to only one chapter of Renée’s life in California. The reader never meets her parents and barely meets her friends there. Considering that she spends the rest of the novel mourning her parents, and at least a few chapters missing her friends, it’s rather awkward to never get to see what her relationship was like with them. There aren’t even really any flashbacks.

Most annoying to me were the scenes that Woon obviously got from popular teen pop culture. Any differentiations in the scenes will be put in quotation marks.

Scene #1: The Twilight
Girl: walks into science class and gets teamed up with broody hot guy to be lab partners for the year.
Guy: talks to her, touches her hand with his cold hand. (Guy: sits as far from her as possible.)
Guy: runs out of class like the hounds of hell are behind him.
Girl: is sad.
Guy: comes to class, but ignores girl. Also, he knows all the answers.
Guy: suddenly changes his mind and is overly friendly one day.
Girl: is thrilled.

Scene #2: The Mean Girls
Girl: gets a C on her Latin exam. (Girl: gets an A on her math exam.)
Guy: tells her he’s pretty awesome at Latin and offers to tutor her. (Girl: asks guy who’s awful at math to tutor her because he’s hot.
Girl: gets better grades. (Girl: does not do this…they align on the next step.)
Girl: does not want the sexiness of Latin tutoring to end, so she purposely gets bad grades again.
Teacher: is not pleased.

Although I didn’t especially like any of the characters, I didn’t hate them exactly either. Sometimes I almost liked Renée with her fire to figure things out, but then, suddenly, she would not want to know something or she would get a clue and be too blind to put things together. For example, Dante, the hottest and most mysterious boy at the new school, keeps trying to tell her something about himself and his secret. And she keeps not forcing the issue. They get interrupted and she goes about her life and DOES NOT THINK ABOUT IT. Who does that?!?! I would totally have refused to talk about anything else until he told me.

Despite an obvious plot (I saw all the twists coming from miles away, because of conventions and foreshadowing) and so-so characters, Dead Beautiful was a surprisingly fun read. The cliffhanger ending, though anticipated, did definitely stoke my desire to find out how the heck Woon’s going to resolve this situation.

One response to “Review: Dead Beautiful”

  1. Nori says:

    I’m glad you liked it. You should definitely read my review! Also, I’m interesting in hearing what you think of book 2.

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