My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dead Beautiful – Yvonne Woon 3.5 stars
Renee is an ordinary California teenager, spending her 16th birthday on the beach with her best friend Annie. On the way home she makes a terrible discovery, the bodies of her newly dead parents, and her life changes dramatically. Left in the care of her grandfather, Renee is taken across the country to a boarding school in Maine which focuses on existential matters. Her grandfather insists that she will be safer there than in California. At first Renee misses her old life, Annie and her sort-of-boyfriend Wes, but the machinations of Gottfried Academy gradually take over and she leaves her old life behind.
Renee is inexplicably drawn to the gorgeous but mysterious Dante. Even more strangely, Dante seems to return the sentiment and agrees to tutor her in Latin. But Dante is not all that he appears to be. He feels cold to the touch, Renee’s hands go numb when she touches him and he refuses to kiss her on the lips. In addition, something seems to be preying on Gottfried Academy students. A student died the previous Spring in a similar way to Renee’s parents and she thinks Dante can tell her more about it. Will she solve the mystery before she and her friends fall victim to the Gottfried Curse?
What I didn’t enjoy – there were a lot of clichés. If you put Twilight, Harry Potter and Wuthering Heights in a blender, you might come out with something like this. It’s quite angst driven, but then so are many teenage girls and they are the target audience.
What I enjoyed – it’s actually quite a good story, and a slightly different take on the genre. The mythology was interesting, as were the references to philosophers. When the action kicks off and Renee finally discovers Dante’s secret, the book moves away from some of the more clichéd elements and finds its own pace. The ending was interesting enough that I will look up subsequent books in the series.
This title was provided by the publisher, Disney Book Group, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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