Thursday 28 July 2011

Book Review - Dead Beautiful

Title: Dead Beautiful
Author: Yvonne Woon
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Release Date: 1 May 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1409530244

Desire. Danger. Destiny. Little did I know that this is what I would find at Gottfried Academy. Coming from sunny California, the mist-shrouded Academy was a shock, with its strange customs, ancient curriculum and study of Latin - the language of the dead. Then I discovered that the school has more than one dark secret... I also discovered Dante. Intelligent, elusive and devastatingly gorgeous, most people can't decide whether they love, hate or fear him. All I know is that when we're together, I've never felt more alive - or more afraid.

My Review
I saw this book reviewed on quite a few blogs I follow and a lot of the reviews were positive, this book sounded good and people seemed to be enjoying it, so when it came in the library as a new book I quickly squirreled it away. However I was in the middle of another series at the time so I put it to one side. I then kept looking at it and deciding to read something else. I don't know why but I lost enthusiasm for it before I even started. Then it got requested and I knew I would have to return it so yesterday I picked it up and took it with me to work and started it in my breaks and OMG it was really gripping!
I couldn't understand why I had been putting it off, it was good. 
On Renee's 16th Birthday she finds her parents dead, side by side in the woods. Heart attacks the doctors say, but Renee is sure it's something more sinister. Her grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy - a boarding school that teaches seemingly out of date classes - Latin, horticulture, crude science etc. There Renee learns more about her past, her future, love, life and death. 
Dante is a mystery, silent and solitary but strangely attracted to Renee, together they feel alive, but they have to come to understand that sometimes in finding love, you can lose yourself.
The writing flows well and the story is fairly well paced. I managed to finish this book quite quickly, at 500 pages I expected it to take me at least another day to read, but I found myself turning pages faster than I thought. The idea is different and gives you just enough information to get you interested, then keeps an air of mystery in it to keep you hooked. 
Some parts were fairly predictable, but then there would be moments that surprised me.
I thought Renee was well written and quite likeable, she has suffered quite a lot but doesn't let it keep her down too much. The mystery of the deaths almost takes her life over, but she grows as a character and starts to involve others in her life.
I really liked Eleanor, her room-mate, smart, funny, mischievous and a bit of a mystery.
Dante sounded like a great guy, and clearly cared about Renee, but I worked out quite early what he was. 
Overall I liked the book, the only thing that made me sigh a few times was the fact that Renee would miss out seemingly obvious hints and just glaze over them. She would be desperate for answers and someone would let something slip, but she was so focused on her thoughts that she would miss it. I found myself getting a bit annoyed with her for this. I won't give too much away but an example is at one point she is talking to her grandfather and he says something like; 'I'm impressed you found out so quickly, it took your mother till her third year to figure it out, especially in studying horticulture." but instead of picking up on this and thinking, 'what have i found out, (as this didn't fit in with the conversation she had started), instead she changes the direction back to what she originally said to him. I felt like screaming 'Pay attention!!!'
Apart from those few moments I did really enjoy the story and I liked the twist on what is a well used genre. Well written and a lot of research gone into it, definitely worth a read.

My Rating
I would give this book 7.5/10 An exciting fast paced novel with an unusual new twist on paranormal romance. 

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