Dead Beautiful (Dead Beautiful #1)

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Dead Beautiful (Dead Beautiful #1)
Author(s)
Publisher
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
September 21, 2010
ISBN
1423119568
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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.

Editor review

1 review
Undeads and Soulless and Zombies, Oh My!
(Updated: January 28, 2012)
Overall rating
 
3.3
Plot
 
2.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
*Spoilers* OK, so I have mixed feelings about this book which I will do my best to explain. While I'm not opposed to books about death and dying, this entire book is about the subject and borders on the morbid. I'm also not a big fan of the Undead, Soulless, Zombie types even if they are tall, dark, incredibly beautiful and irresistibly romantic. I DO think this book was extremely well written and I actually enjoyed the inclusion of the Latin and Philosophy the likes of which I hadn't seen since my college days.

Renee is sent away to boarding school in Maine by her grandfather after the sudden and mysterious death of her parents on her 16th birthday. At the Gottfried Academy, she encounters many new people, classes (Latin, Philosophy, Horticulture and Crude Sciences) and experiences. Her roommate, Eleanor is a popular girl and a gossip who seems to know everything about everyone thanks in part to her older brother, Brandon who is a Monitor. (Monitor's are a select group of older students whose job it is to oversee and represent the entire student body to the HeadMaster and faculty)

Nathaniel is a nerdy boy who Renee meets and quickly becomes friends with. He's awkward but kind and willing to help her adjust to her new life away at school as much as he can.

Then there's Dante... he's is the tall, dark and beautiful boy full of mystery and hotness (or coldness in this case) who surprises everyone with his openness with Renee. Until she shows up at school, he'd been pretty much a loner - the one all the girls swoon over but are afraid to speak too. He and Renee seem to have a connection that neither can deny but Renee can sense there's more to him then Dante is letting on. He's very romantic and while things between the two get Renee's heart racing, it's hard to take things too far since he won't even kiss her on the lips. She thinks he's afraid of something called the Basium Mortis (death kiss) which several students have been rumored to have died from but he won't talk about it.

Strange things begin to happen at the school and when Renee stumbles across an old book telling about the schools history, she discovers there may be more to what's going on than she ever imagined. She also learns that there's more to her own family's history and their involvement with the Gottfried school than her parents ever told her. Her grandfather is the one who confirms her suspicions about the Undead/Zombies and how what role they play in the success of the school. When he tells her that she herself is a Monitor (whose real job is not just to represent the student body but to kill the Undead) he explains how he views this as a gift or a talent but that she is the one who chooses how to use what she's been given.

Pg 426 ~ My grandfather interrupted my thoughts. "Renee, this is what you were born to do. It will always be inside of you, no matter how much you fight it. Any talent can be used for both good and evil. If you think it's unfair, then use your talents to make it fair. Work with what you have. "

So, now she has choices to make...choices about herself, her friends (many of whom aren't even alive in the way we think of "alive") and her relationship with Dante. How far is she willing to go to save him? Is she willing to risk her own life, her own soul for the one she loves? She and Dante give new meaning to the term "soul mate" or shared soul.

I think the thing that made me most uncomfortable with this story was the idea of undead people, zombies, roaming around trying to steal people's souls. I know it's a work of fiction but still. It reminded me of why I didn't enjoy Philosophy very much in college, because there was too much "thinking" and not enough faith.

(I prefer to believe that we all only get one soul, there is life after death and we take our souls with us when we go.)

Besides, all that existential thinking makes my brain hurt which is very distracting...this in turn would make me a prime target for a life taking, soul stealing, beautiful zombie boy to go in for a Basium Mortis (death kiss).
Good Points
This is a very well written story and the inclusion of Latin and Philosophy was a definite plus.
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User reviews

4 reviews
Overall rating
 
3.6
Plot
 
3.3(4)
Characters
 
3.7(3)
Writing Style
 
4.0(3)
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Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Sometimes I choose books completely based on the genre tags that are applied to them on Goodreads. This one one of those cases. It is no secret to any who have read my reviews or know me personally that I have a thing for zombies. I will read anything that even mentions zombies in passing. I think it's the whole loophole to death situation that intrigues me. When you die, you imagine you stay dead. With zombies, that's not the case. Interesting, no? I seem to have a fascination with death and the reanimation of the dead.

Dead Beautiful is almost entirely composed of the questions of death and mortality. Renée used to be the typical California girl who was more concerned with relaxing by the beach than finding out the origins of burial proceedings. That all changed once Renée stumbled across her parents dead in the forest surrounded by coins and with gauze stuffed in their mouths. Renée's world gets shaken to the core from that point on.

Her disconnected and long-lost grandfather becomes her legal guardian and starts implimenting various changes to Renée's life, starting with a move to Maine and the enrollment in Gottfried Academy. Renée says goodbye to her best friend, Annie, and the boy she could possibly have fallen in love with and moves to a unusual school unlike any she has ever known.

It is there at Gottfried Academy that Renée meets Dante. Dante is the token mysteriously handsome boy that seems to plague every single young adult book ever written. The difference is, there is a reason he keeps his distance that has nothing to do with simply being cool. Dante and Renée are uncontrollably drawn to each other in almost a love at first sight type of scenario. Along the way, Renée realizes that there are just some things about the staff, students, and school in general that seem off. Donning her investigator's hat Renée sets out to learn why the school has such a hazy past and how that has some how effected the students and staff. What she finds out, is something she never would have imagined.

I thoroughly enjoyed Dead Beautiful and it wasn't even minutes after I closed the book, ran my hand over the cover affectionately, and set it aside to return to the library, that I was on my library database requesting the next book, Life Eternal, to be picked up on my next visit. I am not normally a morbid person, so the subject of death being so prevalent in this book should have turned me off to it completely. However, for some unknown reason, I found myself enthralled by the history of death and burials, the forbidden love between Renée and Dante, and the mysterious deaths of some of Gottfried's students. It was well written and had me guessing all the way through. The ending does leave off on a cliffhanger which is probably why I was so desperate to request the next book to read. So be prepared.

Dead Beautiful is a story of self discovery, the trials of love, and the realization of death being inevitable, although for some, not permanent.

Review Posted on: http://www.ladybugliterature.blogspot.com
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YA Book Symdrone
(Updated: September 01, 2012)
Overall rating
 
3.0
Plot
 
2.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Renée Winters has had a terrible 16th birthday.
She finds her parent's dead bodies in the forest, dying from what seems like a heart attack.
After having to go live with her rich Grandpa and enrolling in a remote private school she realizes that her parent's death may not be as it seems and that there is more strange going ons at her new school...



This book had what I consider "YA book syndrome"
It's when a book follows one of the following plot lines...

A. After a tragedy (could be a family death,close encounter to death, or even a divorce) a girl moves to a new town (and usually ends up at a boarding school). While she's at school she meets the school's hottest guy, who is absolutely perfect in every way. But the guy has a secret...he's actually a *insert supernal creature here*

B.Instead of the girl moving to a new town, a flawlessly and incredibly hot guy becomes a new student at her school. Oh and he happens to be keeping a secret...
(I'll give you a hint, he's a supernatural creature)

Now which one did this book follow?
Hmmmmmmmmmm....
If you chose A you are correct!
CONGRATULATIONS!!

Since the synopsis had "YA book syndrome" written all over it I thought I wasn't going to like this book very much
but....
I actually liked this book
It was interesting. With a lot of twists and turns that keep you guessing.
Sure the book had its cliche moments and I did roll my eyes numerous times. but overall, this book was good.
Here's the best part....
NO LOVE TRIANGLE!!
HOORAY!


To point out a few things I didn't like...
*the fact that Dante is twice the age as Renee
*The cliches
*The fact that Dante has absolutely no flaws and is entirely perfect in every single way.


But overall this was an interesting read.
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Totally Stereotypical but Still Fun
Overall rating
 
2.7
Plot
 
2.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
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.

P.S. I super wish my mom had a closet full of crazy awesome clothes that I could wear now! So jealous of that. Also of the fact that Renée can give herself a perfect haircut.
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exciting new series
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
0.0
Writing Style
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by quirkyfatepress

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 Renées 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 doesnt 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 couldnt quite put them together until three quarters of the way through the book. I dont 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 Renées 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 Dantes 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 wasnt 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 Woons first book is a beautifully sculpted love story shrouded in mystery. The descriptions in the book allowed me to see Renées 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.

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