Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Review - Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Publisher: Hyperion (Disney Book Group)
Publication Date: September 21, 2010
Review Based on ARC received from Book It Forward ARC Tours
Rating: 3 Bookcases
Summary found on Goodreads
Dead Beautiful is one of those books that had all of the right ingredients, but didn’t deliver to the fullness I was expecting.
On her sixteenth birthday Renee Winters makes an awful discovery: she finds her parents dead in the Redwood Forest near her home. What looks like a possible double murder is explained away by the police as heart attacks. Renee doesn’t believe this explanation and wants answers, but before she can find any her grandfather moves her across the country. In addition, Renee is enrolled in Gottfried Academy a somewhat isolated boarding school in Maine. With its dress code, strict curfew and odd selection of classes, Gottfried is not what Renee is used to. Soon she also learns about the mystery surrounding a student’s death the year before. And then there is Dante, the gorgeous but distant boy who is most definitely hiding something.
Dead Beautiful has a lot of things going for it. There’s a boarding school setting with a creepy town, classes that are weird enough that they’re interesting, odd professors, a fun roommate, and a beautiful but mysterious love interest whose eye the main character catches. And speaking of the main character, Renee is strong, intelligent and inquisitive and follows her instincts. But, it all felt very familiar, like a bunch of books had been mashed together with a few unique details (such as the discussion about Rene Descartes and his Meditations on First Philosophy) and the end result was Dead Beautiful. Maybe I was expecting more unique details from such an interesting summary or maybe I'm being too critical, but Dead Beautiful just wasn't what I was expecting.
In addition, the story takes quite awhile to really pick up. It took me about 200 pages to really get into the story; I almost gave up on it several times before I really got hooked. But, I persevered and found that the mystery behind the student’s death and Renee’s questions about her parents’ death and what she and Dante do to find out about both lead the reader on a twisty ride to a very great ending. The ending, in fact, is the best part of Dead Beautiful. I found myself glued to the book in those last fifty pages. I had to know the final outcome. And when I got to the last page, the ending was the perfect conclusion. There is enough left unresolved that there could be a sequel, but at the same time it really stops on such a great note that it would be a shame to answer every single unanswered question.
Dead Beautiful would appeal to fans of paranormal, as well as school stories that have mystery and a bit of romance. It’s worth reading just to get to the last few chapters.