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Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Title: Dead Beautiful
Author: Yvonne Woon
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 09/21/10
After Renee Winters discovers her parents lying dead in California’s Redwood Forest in what appears to be a strange double murder, her grandfather sends her off to Gottfried Academy in Maine, a remote and mysterious high school dedicated to philosophy, “crude sciences,” and Latin: the Language of the Dead. It’s here she meets Dante, a dark and elusive student to whom she feels inexplicably drawn.

As they get to know each other better, Dante can’t seem to control his attraction either, and their desires gradually deepen into a complex and dangerous romance. Dangerous because Dante is hiding a frightening secret. A secret so terrible, it has him fearing for Renee’s life.

Dante’s not the only one with secrets, though. Turns out Gottfried Academy has a few of its own... Like, how come students keep disappearing? Why are the prefect-like Monitors creeping around campus during the night? And what exactly are the Headmistress and Professors really up to? Renee is determined to find out why.
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.

Plot: 5 Stars
This is one of the most unique young adult novels I have read in a while. Most YA novels that revolve around a special school is where the students learn about their powers or how to deal with the creatures they've turned into. But in this novel, the private academy, Gottfried, is where Renee is sent to help keep her safe. It's a very odd school, with classes that seem random, such as Latin being the only foreign language taught and horticulture being one of the few sciences. But as the story progresses, it comes out that the academy has a second, secret reason for operating and there are many things that the teachers don't want the student body to know.

Pace: 4.5 Stars
My favorite part of this whole novel is that it takes most of the school year for the events of the novel to take place. All too often novels that take place at a school like this don't end up spanning the whole school year and end up feeling very rushed. But this novel progressed at a slower, more reasonable pace. Important events took place over the course of a couploe months instead of being crammed into less than a week, and it made things seem more real. It made the relationships Renee formed seem natural instead of rushed. I also like that this novel had a definitive ending, instead of leaving it open to a possible sequel. Sometimes one book is all you need, and this one was great.

Characters: 4.5 Stars
Renee was a very likeable character. She tried to follow the rules, but often found herself questioning them, especially since Gottfried was so different from the public school she was used to. Dante was a very interesting male character, although at times he seemed to talk in circles. I liked the slower progression of Renee and Dante getting to know each other; it didn't feel as much like love-at-first-sight as many of these paranormal YA novels do. Renee's roommate was a great character for her to have as a friend since they were different, but not complete opposites. I just wish we could've learned a bit more about the monitors by actually observing them, instead of just being told.

Cover: 4.5 Stars
I loved the lush, green forest in the background. It paints a very accurate picture of the setting of the novel. Although there isn't a specific archway mentioned in the novel, it's also an accurate representation of Gottfried Academy and it's history. Although the cover model isn't how I pictured Renee, she could be Renee since the author only gives us a vague description of the main character. I love when a main character isn't decribed down to a T, especially when a story is told from first person point of view, otherwise it can feel like the main character can't stop talking about themselves. My only problem with the cover is that the outfit the cover model is wearing isn't something Renee would wear, but other than that it's a great cover.

Overall: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.


  1. Nice review! I was a little mixed on this read, I agree with you that the plot is really unique and different but I thought it took a little while for the story to really begin. Once it did, I was tearing through the pages to find out what happened next!

  2. I don't know why, but I love the name Dante! So definitely want to read this (yes, I realize it's crazy, but all the fictional Dantes I've come across are cool! XD)

    Lol, anyway, great review!

  3. Sounds like a great read - will definitely be adding it to my wishlist! But I'm starting to grow tired of the name Dante in this genre...

  4. Naomi, this was one of the few times where it didn't bother me that the main male character was named Dante. I didn't really notice it because it seemed to fit him so well.


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