The night Renee Winters turned 16, she found her parents dead in the redwood forest. She soon finds herself with her estranged, wealthy grandfather as...moreThe night Renee Winters turned 16, she found her parents dead in the redwood forest. She soon finds herself with her estranged, wealthy grandfather as a guardian, and is being sent to a boarding school in Maine, far away from her California home. When Renee arrives, she’s drawn to a handsome loner named Dante. She’s also confused by the school’s strange rules, including no lights other than candlelight at night, and the odd courses she has to take. Renee become drawn into the mystery surrounding a death the previous year, and begins to suspect that there may be more to Gottfried Academy than meets the eye.
Dead Beautiful is a bit like a mix of Twilight, Harry Potter, House of Night and Evernight. There’s nothing original about the story, and some elements feel like they’ve been directly lifted from other books (Dante is paired with Renee as a lab partner, and can’t kiss her because he’s afraid that he’ll hurt her). Aside from being so similar to other popular YA works, Dead Beautiful does a good job at drawing in the reader, and presenting an intriguing school atmosphere. There’s quite a bit of reference to philosophy and Cartesian thought, and Woon makes Latin seem like something cool to study. The mystery and ending aren’t too difficult to figure out along the way, but it was enjoyable reading how everything would play out. Fans of Twilight will probably enjoy this book, and I think it ranks above many other Twilight-read-alikes. Overall, Dead Beautiful was an enjoyable book, with the promise of sequels to come.(less)
Temple has wandered America, a vast land emptied of most people by the zombie apocalypse that took place 25 years earlier–10 years before Temple was b...moreTemple has wandered America, a vast land emptied of most people by the zombie apocalypse that took place 25 years earlier–10 years before Temple was born. Still, she is able to find beauty in the world that surrounds her, and doesn’t begrudge the “meatskins” for doing what it is their nature to do. However, when Temple accidentally kills a man who attacks her, she finds herself on the run from his brother: a large man who has found his new singular purpose in life. On the way, Temple befriends a developmentally disabled mute, who she comes to need just as much as he needs her. As she runs from the man who is hunting her, she also works to discover herself and the good she believes she has lost.
The Reapers are the Angels is a strikingly beautiful, poetic novel of a young woman finding her way in a world rife with both danger and beauty. What’s remarkable about Temple is the way she views the world. She finds miracles in the nature that surrounds her, and, although she could be angry that she was born into a world full of the walking dead, she takes life as it is for what it is, without wishing for it to be otherwise. Her way of speaking is old fashioned and has a rhythm to it, like the dialog in the Coen brothers’ True Grit. This book is a pleasure to read for the writing alone.
Temple’s antagonist, Moses, is a mesmerizing character himself. He sees avenging his brother’s death as something he must do, something he is fated to do like an actor in a script. However, he’s honorable to Temple, and respects her even while wanting to kill her. I found his relationship with Temple to be surprising, and not at all like the usual vengeance-driven villain.
The Reapers are the Angels isn’t a young adult book–it’s an adult book that will most likely appeal to a wide audience including young adults. It is horror, containing violence (mostly involving the living), sexual content, and questions of good and evil. However, for all of its darkness, this is still a hopeful book that has a strangely uplifting quality to it. I highly recommend it to zombie lovers, horror aficionados, or anybody just looking for a smart, well-written story.(less)