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Beautiful City of the Dead

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  354 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
“Will keep readers turning pages deep into the night.”—The Bulletin “Poetic, wild language, as enigmatic and forceful as rock lyrics.”—Booklist Relly’s band is called Scorpio Bone. Screaming guitars, crusher drums, and a singer who looks like a golden god. Along comes a girl named Zee, with a bass guitar, a notebook full of strange lyrics, and exactly the right attitude.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 10th 2007 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published July 24th 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 583)
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Christine Bachman
Apr 18, 2009 Christine Bachman rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I felt like this book really wasn't thought out. The idea of music and the immortal seems like a good idea in theory, but the author did nothing to explain why they're connected, or even show an instance where the two really had anything to do with...well, anything. A lot of the plot were "quick fixes," events that happened because they needed to, without any explanation. I also didn't really see a distinct beginning, middle and end. The whole story was a messy blur, and it wasn't until the last ...more
Alley Kat
Sep 19, 2013 Alley Kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Beautiful City of the Dead, Zee moves to a new town. Quickly meeting Relly, the lead guitarist of local "Ghost Metal" band, Scorpio Bone, she makes a place for herself, quickly becoming the bassist of his band. After their first gig, a powerful secret is revealed, one that will change Zee's life forever. Other forces in town will stop at nothing to have her.

I really don't know what I expected from this book. I guess maybe I thought it would be about some kids in a rock band that actually cros
Mary Z
Jul 07, 2009 Mary Z rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Teenage heavy metal gods fighting evil.

This book rocks. I read it one afternoon and wished I'd stretched it out, because I was sorry it ended. This book was pretty much perfect, and I'm picky about my books.

I don't even know much about heavy metal, but I loved this book anyway. When the music plays in the book, you don't just see the band, you hear the music all around you, you feel the vibrations in the air, the bass shaking the floor under your feet, the steel strings buzzing against your fing
Jacob Dickie
Jun 05, 2015 Jacob Dickie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought the book was really good I liked the style and settings of the book I can relate to the characters in the most part of there school life and how they are effected
May 05, 2012 Polly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction, ya
Well-written (the author apparently teaches English Lit, so it better be), but that's not enough in this case. It's a decent story, and somewhat resembles something like the earlier Weetzie Bat books--it's that kind of urban semi-fantasy. But it lacks heart, and it lacks much of a plot. A lot of ominous and/or exciting stuff happens, and the story seems constantly to be moving somewhere, but it never really does, and a lot of things that happen are not clearly connected to anything else, and don ...more
I picked this book up off the shelf over a month ago at this point. When I finally started it I couldn't entirely remember why I picked it up , but I know that I am happy that I did. When Zee starts her new school she can't find anyone who looks interesting until she meets Relly. Relly has his own band and needs a bassist and he thinks Zee is the perfect fit. The four play ghost metal a sound so big you can hear the silence in it. Then Zee finds out that there is more to Relly, herself and their ...more
Nicole Bunge
Jul 14, 2009 Nicole Bunge rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
So yeah, teenage metal band fights evil. *snort* Heck of a tag line.
I liked it, really it's more of a 3 1/2 star book.
Kinda stark on the prose, but most rock songs are, and I can dig it.
Zee plays bass, meets Relly at school - they instantly bond over being in the "parents who named us weird" club.
The creepy biology teacher hates them both, so they have more in common.
Zee joins Relly's band, Scorpio Bone.
Then it gets weird... like elemental magic weird.

But... really, the book is not too heavy (
Jun 06, 2011 Ruhama rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Zee has never quite fit in, so when she meets Relly, who never questions her name, she finally feels a connection with someone. The friendship deepens when she joins their band as the bass player, and Scorpion Bone starts rockin' the town. But things go a little deeper than the foursome's garage band (or attic, in this case), especially when Zee starts meeting a couple of other suspicious characters. Relly reveals that they are, in fact, gods, and she is the element of water. Now it makes sense ...more
Feb 21, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Zee and 3 other teens who start a band, only the leader of the band wants to event a whole new concept for Metal, called Ghost Metal. As Zee and her 3 companions continue to hone their skills and get more gigs, things start changing inside Zee. She later finds out that she is a water god, and the other 3 represent the other elements. This results in a last showdown between another set of gods - very old and powerful ones. Both sets of gods want Zee alive and with them - or n ...more
Christian Lehman
I read this book when I was in Jr. High. I was really into starting my own rockband and I played the bass guitar, so I really resonated with Zee, the main character. She moves to a new school and her first day is really awkward and uncomfortable. She knows that she's different from other teenagers, and she sometimes creeps other people out. She makes a friend named Relly, and he is the guitarist in a band. He asks Zee to be the bassist for his band. His band plays experimental music that Relly c ...more
Oct 23, 2009 Hollowspine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
A story about a teenage girl, Zee, who makes a new friend, one whom she finds both attractive and dangerous, and who introduces her to a secret world within the everyday world. In this hidden world she has mysterious elemental powers. But...with power...comes immense danger. It seems that the skeevy bio teacher is also more than he seems and he has it out for Zee and her new friends.

I found the book somewhat interesting. It had good ideas and some potential to develop into something cool, but I
Nov 06, 2014 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was quite the odd book. I thought it was just OK. I found it to be lacking. I thought there should have been more background or explanation of "Four and no more". Like the purpose of the group, or the why.It needed more background on how they got their powers. I thought the "battle" they had was disappointing. There was this lead up to be an epic battle and when it came it fell flat in my opinion. I thought it needed something more. It lacked in so many ways.
Jan 21, 2008 Huiling_mei rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: advisorybooks
This book by Leander Watts is about teens who aren't like any others, but teens with a life of music and magic. These four teens Jerod the god of wind, Butt the god of earth, Relly the god of fire, and Zee the goddess of water. Because they were different people looked at them differently and they were being chased for their powers by older gods with the same power. And they need Zee to make their group whole with the four elements. Besides this craziness they have another life, a life of music ...more
Kaylee Hix
I want to say I actually liked this book... But I have grievances. You start with a loner, bass guitar girl and this crazy kid and some brand of music called "ghost metal". The other characters are interesting in their own right, and you get into the author's rhythm quite nicely. Then literally half way through the book, he smacks you over the head with one heck of a twist you never see coming. Twists are nice when they fit the first half. You have had clues, you kind of suspected it, etc. This ...more
I'd really give this 3 and half stars. Great imagery and evocation of a place, time and feelings. But the world building was sparse, and I never really understood the magical powers or why they had them, and who knew about it etc. confusing. Also I didn't understand fully one of the key developments with the main charactar that made her so strong at the end nor did I like the major guilt trip laid on her. What was up with that? Sure, it saved the day, but still. I've never heard of an author app ...more
Dec 28, 2010 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was about a bassist who didn't fit in with any given group she was a loner and preffered to be on her own. Until one day she met a boy who wasn't necessarily the most popular boy in town. In fat he was hated by most, except for those who liked his music. His music was even critiscized because he tried making a genre of his own that being Ghost Metal. The final element that he needed in his band happened to be a bassist and guess what the main character was just who he needed. This bein ...more
Sam Steen
it was okay. The storyline was a little cliche. A rock band that turns into all mighty gods. I rate it three stars because it wasn't terrible but, it also was't amzing either.
Linda Dutcher
May 24, 2014 Linda Dutcher rated it it was ok
A quick read. Interesting concept but a little underdeveloped. Kids have connection to the four elements and music. Others want their powers and that's the main conflict.
Andrea O'Brien
This story was okay. I have a weakness for young adult novels but this one was young even for a young adult book. It was a group of elemental kids who are very unbalanced. Two of the protagonists are detailed the other two just seem to be there as plot devices masquerading as main characters. I had the same feelings for the book when I finished it as when I started. I did not hate it but I did not love it. It was a fairly "meh" creation. I appreciated that the author used metal (music) as a cent ...more
Apr 06, 2008 ananka rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 14+
I enjoyed it, but there were a lot of unanswered questions and not much build up to the story.

Zee meets Relly one fatefull day on her way to school. She joins his band and and finds that she has joined a group of gods and that she is one herself. The goal is to have a group of 4, one of each element, to become whole. A rival group is trying to recruit her, but their ways are corrupt and they are evil and powerful old gods.

I think this book would appeal to teens who like Fat Kid Rules the World o
Crystal Hay
Nov 04, 2010 Crystal Hay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful City of the Dead is definitely one of the most wonderfully written books that I have ever read.
It combines two of my favourite things in the world: Heavy Metal and the Paranormal. I've never even heard of the two combined in a single storyline.
Leander Watts is a truly lyrical writer and I found the entire storyline to this masterpiece absolutely flawless. The references to bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath continued to further my engrossment in the book. Beautiful City of the
Qi Wen
Sep 30, 2008 Qi Wen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 08-09
A fiction that i did not know of before and is interesting because of it show another side of how teenager feels during that time.
It is a first person narration, is write from a teenage girl's perspective. Also all the lonely people come together that make a stronge team and help themselves grow. To gain confident from what them as a teenager has-their ability to become a band that make others favored their songs and way of playing the songs.
May 09, 2009 Samantha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ughhhh, it took me forever to get through this book, even though it's pretty short. I committed myself to reading it because it was recommended by a friend, but I was just not interested. From the beginning where we're constantly bashed over the head with foreshadowing (FIRE SCARES ME. I'M DRAWN TO FIRE.), to the weak plot, to the ridiculous ending with the ghost. How did this manage to get published, I wonder?
Dec 10, 2010 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
quite a twist in this book! i started reading it at a students suggestion. i didn't realize it was set here in rochester until after i read about waterstreet, pittsford, and mount hope cemetery! i think that combined with the whole heavy metal rock thing might attract some of my students to this book - oh yeah and the mystical god thing going on too won't hurt.
Nov 28, 2010 Luz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I liked it, but I felt like it could've had more. It's pretty short and when I read it (a couple years ago) it didn't take me long to finish.
I love how he combines music with elemental powers, but he doesn't explain much about the powers. And the ending could've been better if he'd explained some things.
Dec 26, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. It's really fast-paced and interesting. I discovered it by chance while I was shelving at my local library, and devoured it within a day or so. I wish that there was a sequel, as there is definitely the possibility for one, and if there was, I would read it in a heartbeat.
May 22, 2010 Kelly rated it it was ok
Very confusing, but somehow kept my interest from the very first page to the last, leaving me breathless. If you like rock & roll, you may want to take a stab at reading this. Warning, though, it can be very confusing with the making of its own language, of a sort.
Oct 19, 2010 Kerri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like the name of the band - "Scorpio Bone" this book is so unique. It is an intriguing, mysterious story filled with screaming music, human Gods, witchcraft, omens and curses all interwoven together into a small town setting creating a suspenseful quick read.

This was a strange book. It left you with an odd, strange, disturbed and kind of unsettling feeling when you were done. I am writing this review on May 21, 2012. Three years later and I still remember how wierd I felt after. That's gotta mean something.
Andrea Rosales
3.5 stars
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Did any of you find this book to be a bit to creepy and confusing? 1 6 Jun 27, 2012 09:38AM  
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Leander Watts is an author of adult non-fiction and a college English professor. His historical novels provide a welcome antidote to contemporary young adult fiction. He lives in the Genesee Valley in western New York, where he writes and teaches English literature.
More about Leander Watts...

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“Relly fired off the opening riff. Butt laid down the beat, old doom and new joy mixed together. "I wait till I, like fire, shall rise," Jerod sang. And then again, louder, wailing sure and true.
I was the last one to join in. I had a bass line all wroked out, of course. I'd been waiting weeks for this momment. My fingers colosed on the strings, pressed them hard to the frets. Butt and Relly were locked in, repeating the four-bar intro. Louder and louder, fierce as a war cry.
"Ok," I whispered into the pounding noise.
I joined in, doubling Relly at first, then splitting off to coil our riffs together. It was great, it was huge, it was endless. The song rose, churning and sucking everything in like a cyclone.
"The will my voice in great goodbyes," Jerod screamed from the speakers. "Join to the chorus of the skies."
Silence was inside me, riding the Ghost Metal tornado. Right at the center, at the heart of the song.
I didn't need a voice. I had a bass. I didn't need to hear myself talk or sing. Jerod could make the words for me.
Or maybe it was Silence herself, pouring out through the PA system. Either way, any way, They were my words. And all the world would hear them.”
“Weep not for me, my friends so dear.
I am not dead, just sleeping here.
My grassy bed, my grave you see.
Prepare in life to follow me.
-Zee, off a gravestone”
More quotes…