Author: Yvonne Woon
UK Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
UK Publication Date: May 2011
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Summary: When Renée finds the bodies of her parents in the woods near her California home, she suspects there is more to their deaths than just a heart attack. Her grandfather, a wealthy but strict man, becomes her guardian, deciding to move her to the East coast to study at the unusual Gottfried Academy. Studying Latin, Horticulture and Philosophy, things are a bit different at Gottfried, including Dante. Aloof and with some well-hidden secrets, Renée instantly falls for him. Learning more about the history of the school, she pieces together clues that link her parents’ death with the school and the death of a past student.
Review: Reading Dead Beautiful I was instantly pulled into the mystery, wanting to fit together clues and figure out who Dante is and what the Gottfried curse might be.
Renée doesn’t fit into Gottfried’s code; speaking her mind, sneaking out at night to meet Dante and questioning everything. Dante, a loner who left his friends following the death of a student the previous spring, is drawn to Renée. Mystery surrounds him, and you can’t help but what to know what he is hiding. The build up of his relationship with Renée holds some similarities to Twilight’s Edward and Bella, however the premise and setting of Dead Beautiful stand it strongly in its own stead.
Set in the middle of the countryside and riddled with secret passages and underground tunnels, Gottfried Academy is creepy but wonderfully interesting. Students study an unusual array of subjects and a Board of Monitors is the school’s not-so-secret secret club for specially chosen students. With a history of deaths and disasters, the school suffers from the Gottfried curse, which Renée is determined to get to the bottom of.
Towards the middle of the story, the plot starts to become one dimensional focusing on Renée’s obsession with Dante and the deaths linked to the school, and at this point the story starts to slow. It picks up quickly when Renée finds intriguing school records on fellow students and helps to quicken up the pace and build up to all the final twists and surprises toward the end.
Dead Beautiful looks at immortality in an intriguing and new way, weaving in Latin, philosophy, history, mystery, love and theories of the soul. The end is spectacular, and makes you want to find out what will happen to Renée and Dante in the second book Life Eternal.