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Beautiful City of the Dead

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  402 Ratings  ·  58 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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Alley Kat
Sep 18, 2013 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
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a strange little book! I came across it recently when my daughter was cleaning out her former room here. It doesn't look like she ever got around to reading it. Based on the artistry of the dust cover, the title, and the short review on the back, I decided to give it a chance. In my opinion, it seemed a little bipolar. The story revolves around a group of teens in a heavy metal band, and I enjoyed the musical references, how their original songs were put together, and where they found their ...more
Christine Bachman
Apr 17, 2009 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
Mary Z
Jul 07, 2009 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
Alina Hansen
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this book over and over again for almost ten years. I always find myself coming back to it for it's style and content. I love the writing and the subject. Wish there was a sequel but honestly it stands so good on its own it doesn't need one.
Jacob Dickie
May 27, 2015 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
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Watts, Leander Beautiful City of the Dead, 254 p. Houghton Mifflin -

On her first day at a new school, Zee is befriended by Relly - a young man with a rock band that needs a bass player and holds a very large secret. Zee happens to play the bass quite wickedly, plus she has a head for lyrics and is the catalyst the boys need to propel them towards actual gigs. Unfortunately, evil is willing to use Relly to get their hands on Zee - because they need her also.

A great title and a catchy front cove
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It had potential but very little was explained on how the magic worked and the character development was sub par
Oct 20, 2009 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
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
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
Jun 06, 2011 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
May 05, 2012 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
Nicole Bunge
Jul 08, 2009 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 (
Feb 21, 2012 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
Jan 21, 2008 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
Nov 16, 2010 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
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 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 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
Nov 06, 2014 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.
Feb 17, 2009 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?
Qi Wen
Sep 17, 2008 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.
Nov 28, 2010 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 10, 2010 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.
Sep 15, 2010 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.

Agnes Margarette
People who play instruments are cool.
People who play instruments in a band are cooler.
People who play instruments in a band and has elemental powers that are so out of this world...
Now that's just too awesome!
Dec 01, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
IT SUCKED!!!WORST BOOK EVER!!!I would not recommen this book to anyone.IT truly is a waste of time.
I wish the author would have gone into more detail as to why the characters had the powers they had.
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Leander Watts is the author of five young adult novels. He lives in the Genesee Valley of western New York State, where he teaches writing and literature (special areas of interest: science fiction, crime novels and YA.)

He owns hundreds of vinyl albums (many still in the original cellophane), twelve fezzes, a ninety year old tenor sax, and the biggest collection of Big Hand Books known to exist.
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.”
“It takes four and no more. It takes four to win the war. -Relly” 2 likes
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