Genre:: Young Adult/Fantasy
Pages: 480
Publisher:September 21st 2010 by Hyperion Book CH

From Goodreads: A haunting love story about desire, danger, and destiny.
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.

You've read this book before. This time it just has a much better cover and a few minor plot changes.

Take everything you know about Edward and file it under Dante. Dante is:
Very strong
Dangerously Beautiful

Dante admits to being "afraid" of girl and "scared to hurt" girl. And Dante can't kiss her for fear of what might happen.

Now. Take everything you know about Bella and file it under Renee. Renee is:
Prone to getting herself into bad situations

Renee "isn't afraid" of boy and "she knows what" boy is.

Now take everything you know about Twilight, except the much down-played vampire undertones and move it to the east coast and call Forks, Attica Falls and call the high school, Gottried Academy. Don't forget to have these two crazy kids become lab partners, have Dante throw a tree and have Renee walk around with her mouth open, breathing heavily. OK stop there. Go reread Twilight with these new substitutions, add to it the untimely death of some parents and all the professors from Harry Potter. Once you've done that, you're caught up to about the last 30 pages of Dead Beautiful. Woon doesn't really catch her stride until about one hundred pages in so it's OK to skip the first 400 pages of this brick of a book and just come in at the end where, surprisingly, it gets really, really good.

Argh. I just don't get it. Can't we move on already? Star-crossed love is not a new concept but so many authors are pissing on The Bard's grave with all this relentlessly monotonous drivel. I kept waiting for the writing to catch up with the weight of the story line but she wrote in the same, plodding tone no matter what was happening in the book. Woon gives Renee some hefty emotional crises and forgets to write an actual reaction for her. Here we have this poor girl who finds her parents dead, gets sent off to boarding school, has no one, and it's all written in the same tenor one might use to write grout cleaning instructions. Absolutely. No. Emotion.

You'll love it if you love the generic post-Twilight YA. You'll like it if you like standard run of the mill paranormal romance without any sex. I'll say this though. Whether you love it or hate it, you'll be astounded and pleasantly surprised by the ending which is quite remarkable. I was shocked. It also tells me that even with 400 pages of gibberish, Woon is quite capable of spinning a tale and writing an original twist. Very creative. While I don't feel she's breaking any new ground with this novel, she has undoubtedly wiggled her way into a prime spot in an already flooded genre. It was worth reading it just to have that lovely ending.

Contrary to what you might now believe, I didn't hate this book. I liked it enough to see it through to the end as well, I've read this story before and I liked it then too. Unfortunately, the ending set the stage for a sequel, which is disappointing. Left as is, your imagination can take what might have come next and run with it to far better places than the next book is likely to take you. Not every story needs to be a series.

I'll do a giveaway soon and pass on my ARC. This book did nothing for me but it may mean the world to someone else and it deserves that chance.

7 thoughts?:

pirate penguin July 11, 2010 at 10:43 PM  

Dead Beautiful does sound twilight-ish but I'd be willing to slog through those 400+ pages for the ending. It's worth it if the book manages to redeem itself and surprise you...

btw, me and two other bloggers are hosting this epic contest that YOU NEED TO ENTER. PLEASE DO SO. That is all.

Life After Jane July 12, 2010 at 7:20 AM  

Penguin- I did! I did! I wantz a finished copy of The Replacement to love.

Maricate July 12, 2010 at 9:36 AM  

"pissing on the Bard's grave" bwaahaha. thanks for the review.

Angiegirl July 12, 2010 at 10:30 AM  

Wow. Crazy strong review. I can't believe it's so blah the whole time and then wraps up in such an awesome finish! I want to read the end now. Hmmm.

reena September 18, 2010 at 12:27 AM  

Y'know, I took one look at this book (pretty cover!) and decided to just read the ending. It sort of didn't quite make sense, exactly, but it did, and it was, indeed, kind of surprising (not in a bad way). But she really didn't give weight to that with any reaction either. I feel like tragedy is often a cheat if you just use it as some sort of flourish-- like, I'd dislike Romeo and Juliet except all of the play sets up the ending and it all works together as a whole. You can't have Romeo & Juliet at all without that ending, I think. But if you have a book with an extraneous 400 pages, there's no such thing as a 'good' ending, I think, because it hasn't been set up properly. Surprise endings are for suckers and/or dime novels about superheroes. There were also platitudes at the end I didn't think added much power. So yeah, I at least didn't think it was worth slogging through for that ending, because I'd be upset if I was invested, but simply dissatisfied if *not* invested in the characters. Anyway, Edward could suck it, seriously. :)

Sarah September 20, 2010 at 4:17 PM  

Wow--entertaining and informative review :) Thanks for the honesty. I was just trying to decide whether I wanted to borrow or it or not from the library.

Anonymous February 17, 2011 at 11:02 PM  

what exactly happened at the ending? O_o

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