Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Dead Beautiful (Dead Beautiful, #1)
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Released-Sept 21st 2010
Purchase- Amazon / B & N / Chapters
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.
My Thoughts
Renée Winters had a wonderful life. She has a best friend named Annie and a hot boyfriend named Wes. She's just about to start her sophomore year and made it on the varsity lacrosse team. But everything changed when  Renée spotted her dad's car on the shoulder of Redwood forest. Panicked, Renée raced inside, almost like something was propelling her to where she could find them and sure enough, there on the forest floor are her parents, cold and motionless with coins scattered around them and a white gauze-like fabric placed in their mouths.

To make an already troubled heart worse, Renée's parents willed her grandfather- a man that her parents never got along with and prevented him from knowing his granddaughter- as her legal guardian. A strict and determined man, Mr. Winters is convinced that her parents death wasn't just some random coincidence and that Renée may be in real danger, decides to send her to a private elite boarding school named Gottfried Academy in Maine.
There, Renée links the mystery of her parents death with the mysterious mishaps at the academy and finds out what fate really has in store for her.

I've had this book sitting on my shelf for over a year now. I can't believe it's taken me this long to get to it, I was missing out on a fantastic paranormal read!

Dead Beautiful has all the exciting elements I like in my reads. Mystery, suspense, forbidden love, likable interesting characters with a boarding school setting.
Publisher Weekly called this "A Harry Potter start and a Twilight finish." And I simply couldn't agree more.
It really did have that HP feel when Renée first went to Gottfied Academy. The school has a old gothic feel to it that is heavy with odd traditions and views that line up with the teachers and subject quite fittingly. 
These teachers are extremely disciplinary friendly, the subjects have an edge of darkness around them and felt so advanced and intellectual that I even had a hard time pronouncing some of them and the rules were ridiculous and unfair. I'd never be able to survive in a school like that. The Twilight ending was more about the revelations that we learn at the end of the book, which again, I wholeheartedly agree. Gottfied Academy has more then it's share of secrets and surprises and Renée Winters is very much caught in the middle, in more ways then she'd ever believed.

The writing is just fantastic. You could feel Yvonne Woon's determination to have everything set in specific motion. The pace was slow moving but it didn't feel dragged out or dull. We were educated with the Renée, knowing at the exact time she does. The story dwells on death which gives this a very morbid flavor for pretty much the entire novel, it also has a very serious tone not leaving any room for any real humor or even light moments. But for some reason it didn't bother me as much as it should have since I was completely absorbed and invested with what was going on, or at least trying to figure out what was going on. From the title of the book I figured that this pointed to some kind of paranormal, but I never would have guessed which one. I really have to hand it to Woon, she really put a lot of thought and energy into this particlar lore and I was impressed with how she handled it.  

I really enjoyed all these characters and was thankful that this didn't have any 'mean girls' which I expected since this has, well, a boarding school setting. But it wasn't like that for this book. I really enjoyed Eleanor and Nathaniel. They added to the experience instead of just filling in the gaps. I din't care for Mr. Wintes in the beginning, but I don't think we were meant to till we understood him more later in the book.
I loved Renée. I love that she always speaks her mind and that she's always trying to figure things out. She can never just let the little things go and I found her passion and determination endearing.  
As for Dante? What a keeper! Intelligent, devastatingly gorgeous, alluring and unpredictable. 
Their relationship did indeed have that forbidden spell around them, but with a twist. A really really good freaken twist that I never saw coming!

Bottom line, I had a great time with this book. It's one of those reads where I felt okay taking my time with and absorbing the facts as they come. It's intelligent, solid, fascinating and chill-worthy.
I can't wait to find out what happens next in; Life Eternal!

4 Snowflakes  
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  1. Great review Tina! I've seen this book around but haven't heard many reviews on it. I love dark, gothic novels with a boarding school setting so I think I'll love this one. And I love how there's no mean girls. They always frustrate me and it's just getting kinda old to me. Definitley adding to my TBR:))

    1. Thanks Addie!:) I LOVED Boarding School Setting books. I dunno why lol but there is just something about them I can't resist. I had fun with this book:)

  2. Sounds interesting. Putting it on my To-Read List.

  3. There is something about boarding school that is so attractive to me :p I like the setting; maybe it's because I never went (and will) go to one. I really like the sound of this book. It has been on my list for a while, but it might be time to put it more on top of the list :) Great review.

  4. Thanks Mel! I've had this book for so long that I actually had to dust off the cover:p I hope you enjoy it!
    Have you read Night School by C.J Daugherty? That to has a boarding school setting and I absolutely love and recommend it:D

  5. There was a morbid flavor to this novel. Excellent way to describe the feeling. I read this a while back but I don't think I'm going to read the second one until the third is out. That ending was sure a twist right? Great review Tina. :)

  6. Thanks Rach! Yup, definitely morbid lol I'm gonna start the next book soonish. That ending killed me!!:p