I undertook to read “Dead Beautiful” with some amount of caution and incredulity. I guess I was alarmed that it might have turned out into some cheap novel about sexy vampires abstaining from their bloodthirstiness and related stuff. By the end of “Dead Beautiful” I had to take my skepticism back. It’s not that the novel was totally “Twilight-free”, it had some resemblance to the notorious Bella&Edward routine. But...ok, first thing first.
Renee Winters is living a carefree life in California, when suddenly she while being on a ride with a friend discovers two dead bodies in the murky shelter of the Redwood Forest. Not just any bodies, but the bodies of her parents!…And apart from their unexpected demise in even more uncharacteristic place it’s the mystery of how they died looms over Renee and haunts her over and over. Her grandfather, the closest relative she got and quite an eccentric old man, sends the girl to Gottfried Academy claiming it’s the safest place for her.
Having arrived to the Academy and made her first acquaintances Renee’s immediately drawn to her classmate Dante, who has a dark, life-threatening secret of his own. Moreover, the whole place seems to be polluted with strange occurrences, housing an enigmatic aura in it. And it is Renee with her open and questioning personality as well as proclivity to finding corpses and dead things who will step by step dig out the truth about her Alma Mater, her friends, her enemies and finally herself.
And it’s almost to the end of “Dead Beautiful” when a curtain over mishaps, accidents and other unexplainable things unveils. Don’t get me wrong, the conviction that one particular somebody had a dangerous secret is obvious, but to what magnitude and depth – that might fascinate even tried YA supernatural fiction admirers.
The author has introduced an interesting and fresh concept about paranormal people. Death is shown from a different angle. It’s bizarre and not so much repulsive. It’s almost elevated to an academic work if I may say so. Weaving together psychology, philosophy and thesis about old languages the author made the book unique in its sorts, almost scientific. I caught myself wondering how close to the truth Ms Woon was when retelling myths and legends of the ancient world through the prism of her imagination.
It’s a brilliant debut for a young author. Yet I feel compelled to mention that Dante Berlin’s name is a bit pretentious taking into account his origins. And the other names were mostly too intricate too as if they were picked out of another century. Finally, the tree incident was a bit grotesque (a reader will know what I mean as soon as he gets to it).
Captivating swaying storyline had led me to the ending that was sweet yet a heart-aching one. My insides squeezed a bit and I held my breath while finishing the last lines and expecting more. After that the uplifted mood kept me company for half of the day until I got distracted and involved in daily routine.
I hope it’s a stand-alone novel though despite the beauty of the background and the characters the author created.