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Dead Beautiful #1

Dead Beautiful

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On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Renée Winters was still an ordinary girl. She spent her summers at the beach, had the perfect best friend, and had just started dating the cutest guy at school. No one she'd ever known had died. But all that changes when she finds her parents dead in the Redwood Forest, in what appears to be a strange double murder.

After the funeral Renée’s wealthy grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious boarding school in Maine, where she finds herself studying subjects like Philosophy, Latin, and the “Crude Sciences.”

It’s there that she meets Dante Berlin, a handsome and elusive boy to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they grow closer, unexplainable things begin to happen, but Renée can’t stop herself from falling in love. It’s only when she discovers a dark tragedy in Gottfried’s past that she begins to wonder if the Academy is everything it seems.

Little does she know, Dante is the one hiding a dangerous secret, one that has him fearing for her life.

Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking read, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.

464 pages, Hardcover

First published September 21, 2010

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About the author

Yvonne Woon

7 books1,044 followers
Yvonne Woon grew up in Massachusetts. She is the author of My Flawless Life (Katherine Tegen Books), If You, Then Me (Katherine Tegen Books) and the Dead Beautiful series (Hyperion). She is a 2022 National Endowment of the Arts Fellow in Prose. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, which she mostly uses to concoct plots. She lives in Decatur, GA, with her family.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,402 reviews
Profile Image for DayDreamer.
71 reviews
December 4, 2013
Vain. Vain. Vain.

Seriously, does character depth not exist in teen books anymore?

For one, I hated how the author kept starting with the word "Startled" and other words, such as:

"Slowly, I..."
"Confused, I..."
"Later, I..."
"Startled, I ..."

Then you have Dante Berlin. He's described as a God. So what the hell is Renee doing with him if she's an "average girl"? The words used to describe him made me want to vomit. Get real, Woon, no one looks like that. She didn't even describe ONE flaw to him (outside or inside), and it made me laugh that Renee said something like, "And I liked him for all his flaws - it made him that much more real." Something like that. I stared at the page for a few seconds, blinking, thinking, "What flaws? Has a page been ripped out of my book?" But when I checked the page numbers they were all there. So I sat there pondering on who the hell she was talking about, because it wasn't Renee Winters or Dante Berlin, in which she did say how they had flaws. No. She described them unrealistically. You can be sexy and hot and damn right gorgeous, but with no flaws? Sorry, but that's stupid.

The words used to describe everything made me want to punch Renee. She obsessed over Berlin and even said that if he was gone, that was the end of her life. Yeah, great message to give to teens. Nice one.

Even though I hate typing this, it was a Twilight wannabe. It was a mixture of Twilight, By Midnight and Evernight (the only one I like is Evernight).

Renee's dialogue tags were annoying. Most of the time she was blurting something. What's wrong with good old said? Hasn't she ever heard of said-bookism?

And another thing, it was overwritten. Not so much the last half of the book, but the first half was riddled with passive voice. Things that could have been reworded into less words that still conveys the same message. There were parts when I was just rewording it in my head, because all I needed to read was something so simple, yet she dragged it out and used too many words to say what she really means. Sometimes less is more.

This book was another unrealistic teen book. Sorry, but no real teen does and says half the things Renee does. Renee had NO flaws whatsoever, and I even recall her saying something like, "Why wouldn't anyone like me?"

WHAT THE HELL! You don't need to piss someone off for someone to dislike you. Ever heard of people who just naturally don't get along? I dislike someone people for no real reason and they do me. It's called having nothing in common. It's called personality clashes. You don't have to be a dickhead to someone in order to get them to hate you. What a ignorant thing for her to say. Why wouldn't anyone not like her? I was so close to throwing the book at the wall.

And it was a mission to finish this book, because I usually do, good or bad.

Why are so many of these books getting published? The mysterious, lonely, brooding, sexy guy who falls for the average teen who has nothing going for her other than her pretty looks.

Actually, none of them had anything going for them. The WHOLE relationship was built on looks. It pains me to know that young teens out there are eating this horse poop up.

Kids: there are more to relationships than looks. Unlike Renee, you can make mistakes. She didn't make one single one throughout the book, but that's because she's a Mary Sue. It's also okay to fall for someone's looks, but don't pretend that you are in love with them when you know NOTHING about them. They never even talked that much about each other's likes, dislikes and other stuff that you talk about with a partner. Granted, they did, but hardly enough to say that they fell for anything other than looks. It makes me sick.

There are other things that I could gladly chat about all day, but I think I'll go and read a real book and chat about something I love.

Avoid this book all you can. Me and the rest of the people who buy it are only fuelling the fire for these disgusting, unrealistic, Mary Sue-filled books to be published in the first place.

A real teen book would be Suzanne Collin's The Hunger Games. There the main characters had flaws. They made mistakes. Katniss had people hate her for her. Whether you disliked that book or not, you can't say that there was one Mary/Gary Sue/Stu in there, or that none of them made mistakes, or that Katniss was the average teen who either complains on every other page or lusts over a guy who she knows nothing about.
Profile Image for Merary.
231 reviews196 followers
July 31, 2017
When the title of the book (a very cheesy one at that!) reveals pretty much the major plot of the story, it pretty much means that you are unable to produce unpredictable and alluring stories. It kind of reminds me of Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High edition #112: Jessica Quits the Squad. Guess what happened at the end of the book?
That wasn't my only problem. Oh, ho ho no. I really hate to say this, but, I found a lot of Twilight similarities in this one. Yeah. I know. The whole "paranormal novels imitating Twilight" sounded absurd to me at first, but Dead Beautiful actually confirms it.
Wha? Don't believe me? I'll show you some examples from both books separately:

From Dead Beautiful:

"It's milkweed butterfly, by the way."
"How . . . how did you know that? You didn't even look . . ."
But he didn't respond. And after confirming that it was, in fact, a milkweed butterfly, I turned to him, frustrated.
pg. 107

She described Dante Berlin's (the love interest) voice as velvety at page 246.

"And what have you concluded?"
"A mutant. A rare disease. A creature from the inferno. Dante."
"And what if you found out you were right?" he asked. "What if meant that I could hurt you?"
"I would say that I'm not scared."
pg. 322

"I tried to stay away from you," Dante said. "The beginning of the year. I kept my distance because I didn't want to put you in danger." pg. 370

"How old are you?" I asked, leaning against the trunk of a giant oak.
Dante played with a lock of my hair. "Seventeen."
I looked up at him. "How old are you really?"
pg. 385

From Twilight (Note: Couldn't find the actual book quotes, instead, I used the movie quotes. Even though it's pretty much the same. In some cases, the number of pages is included):

[Bella pushes microscope towards Edward]
Isabella Swan: Uh, prophase.
Edward Cullen: Do you mind if I uh, look?
[Bella shakes her head]
Edward Cullen: It's prophase.
Isabella Swan: Like I said.

Please! Bella Swan always reminds you how velvety is Edward Cullen's voice in pretty much the majority of the book!

Bella: OK, well let's say for argument's sake that I'm not smart... Would you tell me the truth?
Edward: No, probably not... I'd rather hear your theories.
Bella: I have considered radioactive spiders and kryptonite.
Edward: That's all superhero stuff, right? What if I'm not the hero? What if I'm... the bad guy?
Chapter 5, p.92

And from another scene . . .
Bella: I'm not scared of you.

In a part of New Moon Edward Cullen told Bella that he left--stood away from her!--for her safety.

Bella: How old are you?
Edward: Seventeen.
Bella: How long have you been seventeen?

Maybe there were more examples, but these were only ones I could come off with. Perhaps I'm exaggerating this. Or perhaps not. Tell me what you think.

When I noticed the plot, I noticed this very common words in pretty much most YA paranormal romance novels: inexplicably drawn to. Hmmm. Very fishy. Why do they feel suddenly inexplicably drawn to the hero? Hmm? Why do the authors feel the need to activate "Insta-love" to the main characters? Whatever happened to romantic development? I will never know . . .

Another thing that bothered me: Renée Winters is a complete idiot. Even though it is reminded several times that she's named after René Descartes (who was, in fact, a real person. And by the way, the so called book mentioned in this book, The Seventh Meditation, is actually a reference to Descartes actual book Meditations on First Philosophy which is actually made up of of six meditations. Or maybe not. Correct me if I'm wrong), she doesn't think logically and she's just plain stupid. And also quite desperate when it comes to love.

1. She pretends to not know the answers to a Latin test so she could spend more time studying with Dante.
2. She is too stupid to realize that she has a boyfriend that cares about her back at her old hometown, and, here she is, lusting after Dante.
3.According to her, she has never been in love until Dante came into her life. Oh, hey! What happened to Wes, your supposed boyfriend?
4.She thinks her and Dante are dating, even though that wasn't discussed between them at that point.
5. Already wondering if Dante loves her even though they met only for a few weeks.
6. Thinks small "flaws" like blemishes, scars, and big ears will drive Dante away.
7. She is self-absorbed. Check this quote from her:

"Who dislikes me?" I said forcefully. I was a nice, considerate person. Why would anyone dislike me?

Hey, Renée! Even if you are "nice" as you put it, not everybody is going to like you (especially myself at this moment). It's called life. Get used to it, bitch.
8. Renée is like Dora the Fucking Explorer. Like Clea Raymond on the Elixir series, she questions every single thing. Her favorites are questions that begin with "Why?" WHY?

I could go on and on, really. But enough is enough.
She's not the only idiot in the story. Pretty much everyone is stupid!!
When questioned, they only answer with "I don't know". They don't think and reflect at least once.

Now, let's talk about the "important" part of the story: Renée and Dante's relationship. First off, I felt the romance a little bit rushed and with no passion. And no, kissing without touching their lips do not count! They had no chemistry and their love was mainly superficial. Renée always talks about how hot he is, for Pete's sake! She thinks he is perfect. Yawn. Oddly enough, she said this about him:

I realized that everything that was wrong with him was right. His solitude, his callous reticence, his unpredictability--it only drew me closer--his flaws making all the more real. pg. 149

Bitch you just said before that he was flawless and perfect! And besides, the flaws you mentioned aren't exactly flaws! Solitude means that prefers to be alone. Callous reticence? Callous basically means insensitive and cruel. Reticence is about someone that doesn't speak freely. So, he expresses his cruelty by not speaking freely? Huh? Interesting. And unpredictability is about someone who is, you know, unpredictable. Can you explain how are these flaws again?
Not everything is paradise for them, though. When Renée discovers Dante's secret , she gets all mad, and blames everything on him!!

But it was his fault, I reassured myself. He did provoke me. If he hadn't been dead, and if he hadn't kept it from me, we never would have been in this situation. pg. 372

Isn't she charming?

Another thing that bothered me about them was that they were way too co-dependent of each other. Especially Renée towards Dante. The codependency is so strong that Renée expressed that she can't live without Dante three times. In less than 2 pages.

My stomach felt hollow as I imagined my life without Dante. pg. 436/437

". . . And I'd rather face death than live without you." pg. 437

"I'm not afraid of death," I said, looking at Dante. And this time I knew it was true. "I'm afraid of life without you." pg. 437

I think it was meant to be romantic, but . . . I never felt that. All I felt was desperation and clinginess.
And what about Renée's friends? I don't remember them and I don't care.

And the writing. Gosh, too much telling instead of showing! And some sentences were constructed awkwardly. It wasn't mediocre, though. It was just . . . ordinary.

Now that all the bad was divided, I'm going to tell you the good parts.
Things finally get interesting after the end of Chapter 10 (like about page 290). You know that gut feeling when something exciting is about to occur in a book? I definitely felt that. :)
I have a confession. Even though Yvonne Woon isn't very good at keeping things unpredictable, she is very good at foreshadowing and symbolism. That's pretty much in Chapter 10.
My favorite character was Headmistress Van Laark. She was very smart and cool.

There were things that I didn't see coming.

The ending was kind of weird.

And I'm done.

Is this book recommendable? If you like zombies, cheesy romance, big books, and an original take on the genre, then yes. If not, well you know the drill. :)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Shaunna McLaren.
123 reviews25 followers
October 1, 2020
I came across Yvonne Woon’s Dead Beautiful when scanning Amazon for some new paranormal romances to read, to hopefully refresh my love of the genre after starting and, unusually for me, not finishing a series by another author that I found to be rather disappointing. With that in mind, I started this novel with rather low expectations, my love for the genre a bit bashed; I started to feel like I’d maybe finally outgrown YA paranormal romance.

As most YA romances are, the novel was set in a school, the protagonist was a female in her mid-teens with something bad going on in her life, and the love interest was mysterious and ‘devastatingly gorgeous.’ However, I must say – at this point I have to stop lumping it in with similar books from its genre, because Dead Beautiful was, for me, a breath of fresh air.

The novel’s dark opening sets a foreboding atmosphere, and it’s almost impossible not to become curious as to what happened to Renee’s parents – a question which seems to hover in the reader’s mind through a large portion of the novel, making us desperate to find out what really happened. Dead Beautiful is also a rather big book at just over 500 pages, and yet not once did I skip a page; not once did I get bored. Woon writes in such a style, introduces such compelling ideas and builds suspense in a way that leaves you desperate to find out more – so much so, that I found myself desperate to finish my shift at work so that I could get home and finish reading it!

Of course, also very worth commenting on, is the relationship between the novel’s protagonist, Renee, and her love interest Dante Berlin. As in the majority of YA paranormal romances, Dante is the strange, mysterious character; the one who is instantly attractive to those around him, yet seems to keep his distance from the rest of the school. Also similar to many other novels, Renee has an initial bad encounter with him, and ends up sitting beside him in one of her classes. However, what sets the relationship between Renee and Dante apart from many other relationships in other YA novels is the believability. There’s no instant, “OH I SUDDENLY LOVE YOU LET’S BE TOGETHER FOREVER!” - instead, this relationship builds naturally into something beautiful and completely heart-wrenching. I completely loved both of these characters, as well as being desperate to find out what made Dante so different and to know how it would affect his relationship with Renee.

What did make Dante different was an idea that was really rather fresh, and it was presented in an interesting way, so that we slowly piece things together at the same time Renee does. This made finding out a great deal more exciting, and made the latter part of the novel quite thrilling.

All in all, I completely loved this book. It has most definitely reawakened my love for the genre, and I’m incredibly excited for the sequel. This book is definitely a must-have for any fans of the genre, and Yvonne Woon is definitely someone to keep your eyes on!
5 reviews8 followers
June 21, 2014
Dead Beautiful is a beautifully written young adult paranormal romance novel. The characters are unique, although there may be a few cliches around, I found it enjoyable and interesting to read. There were so many mini mysteries throughout the whole book, and it leads you to form your own theories and answers about what's going on because you just get so curious. I love that feeling though.

It's not like one of those books where everything is really predictable. The plot wasn't rushed ,it ran through at it's own pace, which I liked. Since it is set in sort of a dark horror film setting, I did find some of the issues in this novel quite gruesome and creepy but I think that just helps to build a exciting atmosphere.

I loved the little romance involved although sometimes it annoyed me because of the way things turned out between different characters, though it was good It wasn't too cheesy and the whole relationship was constructed slowly , which I liked because I gained a proper undertanding of each character.

This isn't one of those books with a love triangle theme set on to it, I'm not quite so fond of that theme in these genres but I was actually very pleased with this novel.
There's a sequel too, I cannot wait to read it!!
Profile Image for Sophia Sardothien.
155 reviews524 followers
February 23, 2015
Ehh this book is fine, the world building is great but the plot hmm not so much. The biggest problem I have with this book is the flat characters and their relationship, it too unrealistic Overall it wasn't bad by all means but I'm still hesitating to read the final one or not
Profile Image for Librariann.
1,423 reviews45 followers
October 12, 2010
Ages 11+ (no language, kiss romance, death)

Are you looking for a book that slavishly adheres to the Twilight formula yet has a dash of Harry Potter? Let me count the ways:

- Parents of attractive teen girl die in a MYSTERIOUS fashion
- Attractive teen girl transfers to boarding school
- Where she is paired up as lab partners with sexy, mysterious, silent Dante
- But also must take Herbology - erm, I mean HORTICULTURE - with Professor Mumm!
- Dante is cryptic and OLD!
- They begin a romance but must never ever kiss, for he would be a DANGER to Bella - I mean, whats-her-name
- Dante performs feats of superhuman strength to save our intrepid heroine from certain doooooom.
- Students at the school have been mysteriously killed!
- And, then, you know, she finally figures out that Dante is a zombie.

The good news? This book is more thoughtful and intellectually mature (Latin class!) than Twilight is. The bad news? It isn't nearly as romantic. But of the many, many copycats that have come out since the Meyer phenomenon began, this is my favorite. Plenty of unanswered questions are left, and the ending hangs cliffily. Sure, it's a twist on the same story, but it is executed fairly well and teens looking for a supernatural romance will appreciate it.

Profile Image for Sarah Mac.
1,057 reviews
April 30, 2015
Look, a YA paranormal romance! Shall I poke it with sticks?

Caveat: I'm well aware that YA PNR is a niche every bit as stringent as Steampunk or Regency. I've got no issue with judicious use of recycled tropes, at least in theory -- that's what genre fiction is, after all.

...But this book could've been so much better.

As far as Twilight imitators go, Dead Beautiful isn't awful. It's competently written. It successfully conveys a mysterious, macabre atmosphere. It has some rather dark underpinnings (fitting when undead are involved). I thought the philosophy behind the 'zombie culture' was pretty nifty -- the incorporation of Latin, the bizarre academy classes, etc. But while other reviews are quick to roll out Powerpoint presentations on the Twilight parallels, there's very little mention of Harry Potter.

Seriously. From the school grounds to the teaching staff to the student names to the quirky villains to Renee's friends...wow. This book is very much a Potter homage (even if an unintentional one) & it clashes like crazy with the Twilight hit parade. Important story-crafting safety tip: there's a point when trope recycling crosses the line between "genre fic" & "distraction." Bella or Harry? Whatever, just pick one & roll with it. Squashing those two together is destined to be a rollercoaster of high/low entertainment...which is exactly what happened.

And speaking of distractions, there's the romance.

Dante was a Gary Stu, but I'm not so old & jaded that I can't understand why tween girls would appreciate him. He was model-gorgeous, well-read, thoughtful, & gentlemanly -- and at least he had a masculine musculature, unlike the Edward-clone goffick waif-boys.

Unfortunately, Renee was a fail. I loathe whiny heroines. Evil, manipulative, soulless, bitchy, spiteful -- anything is preferable to a whingy, self-centered brat who moos repetitive emotional woes & hog-ties every plot point to her own problems. Alas, YA is replete with this type -- and Renee is no exception. She got more & more annoying as the book went on. Eventually I wanted her to fall in a hole, or at least STFU for ten minutes so another person could narrate. Her constant wangst over such a horribly difficult life made skimming a necessity, while her rhapsodizing over Dante's beauty & their fated, misunderstood twu wuv was enough to drive Romeo & Juliet to an early grave.

(Surprise! Renee did, in fact, fall in a hole...but nobody else narrated. Dammit.)

3 stars. In all seriousness, it's not the worst of this type -- but I suspect it's best appreciated by actual tweens & teens. Methinks I won't bother reading the sequels.
Profile Image for Elena Salvatore.
218 reviews110 followers
July 8, 2020
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Wonn, was published right at the "Twilight hype" era. You can definitely tell from the tone of the book that it was published around the '10's, where vampires were the most popular supernatural creatues and the most portrayed by the media.
While this book never uses the term "vampire", to describe the undead, it's pretty clear on what they're based on.

Basically you have all the usual troped for YA books at the time.
In no way does that mean that I didn't enjoyed reading it.
My 2 star rating is based on the suggestions from GoodReads. It was ok. I liked it. I will continue on with this series. But I'm never going to reread it.
Profile Image for Caitlin.
244 reviews49 followers
October 6, 2010
It’s rare to come across something different and original. Well, almost original. We have creepy/ weird boarding schools with wealthy students. Dangerous, loner, beautiful boy meets new girl. Dead parents. Yada yada yada. But each aspect is unique in its own way. Classes consist of Philosophy, Crude Sciences, Survival skills etc. The beautiful boy, isn’t cold and stuck up. He’s actually really sweet. Woon gives each thing her own twist which makes things nice. Even the plot, mythology (or should I say philosophy?)—the heart of the story is different and interesting.

The best part about the book, it kept you guessing. Out of the five of surprises, three I saw coming. The rest—I was like, WHOA, that’s cool. Lately tons of YA books have been easy to guess, so it was nice to actually be shocked.

There are tons of things I loved about the book, but yet it has it’s downfalls. Woon falls under the slow paced categories. For the first half of the book, it feels like we’re on a rollercoaster that’s climbing and climbing and climbing…a drop would be nice any day now? Now, I can’t blame her. When your character is dealing with deaths, new school, and friends, you have to make your character go through certain things. But she could have done it better.

Another thing that drove me CRAAAZZZZZY at times, was the main character Renee. At times I loved her for her outward attitude. She questioned everyone/thing, skeptic, even humorous at times. But when it came to important things like, “LOOK THIS MAY BE IMPORTANT AND IF YOU CATCH THIS YOU’RE SMART,” she never would catch it. It drove me crazy at times. She’s smart one second and completely oblivious the other. This is something that happens in other YA novels, but it’s the authors fault. They make there characters ignore or refuse to acknowledge something when it’s in there characters nature to notice things.

But honestly, I like it. The romance between Renee and Dante was perfect. Not over done, another can’t live without kind, but still. It was sweet and believable. Dante was a sweet guy and I didn’t find myself snoring when he talked but I didn’t find myself swooning. He would be someone I would befriend, but not chase after.

Liked the book. If there’s a sequel—there’s defiantly room for a sequel (A few unanswered questions could create an amazing part two) then I’ll be sure to pick it up.
Profile Image for Mizuki.
2,907 reviews1,160 followers
September 3, 2016
It's a 'not so bad but it could have been better' 2.5 stars

If you intended to read this book, please be careful of the following eyesore:

(1) Twilight ripoff romance.

(2) The heroine keeps blushing for countless of times whenever she's around the love interest.

(3) Same-old, same-old 'new girl in new school getting the attention of the most beautiful boy in school' setup.

(4) A lot of things not being convincingly and finely explained. (There're explanations, but I don't think they're done well)

Still, Comparing with the disastrous Dearly Departed, Dead Beautiful is sort of okay-ish.

Review to come.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,638 reviews449 followers
May 1, 2022
This review can also be found at https://carolesrandomlife.com/

This book was okay for me. There were things that I liked about it and things that didn’t work as well too. I have had this book on my virtual shelves for years and am glad that I decided to finally brush it off and give it a try. I did find it to be a very quick read and it held my attention until the very end. I think that this book was definitely worth a read.

Everything changes for Renée on the day that she turns sixteen. She finds both of her parents dead in the woods from apparent heart attacks and she is soon sent to live with her wealthy grandfather. He seems to be very strict and sends her to an exclusive boarding school. The curriculum at the school is a little different than she is used to but she soon excels and starts making friends. She meets Dante at school and the pair are immediately drawn to each other.

I was able to guess a lot of the big twists in this book which took some of the fun out of the story. There is a bit of a mystery around what is really going on at the school and another mystery centered around Renée’s roommate. I did think that a lot of things in the story were rather convenient. It was an interesting concept and I was invested in the story and the characters enough that I was curious about how things would work out for them.

Caitlin Davies did a great job in narrating this story. I thought that she did a great job in bringing this cast of characters to life. I loved the various character voices that she used in her narration. I found her voice to be very pleasant and had no problem listening to this book for hours at a time. I do think that her narration added to my overall enjoyment of the story.

I would encourage readers who are interested in this trilogy to give it a try. I am glad that I read it and did enjoy my time with it but I don’t have any plans to read any further in the series.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via NetGalley and purchased a copy of the audiobook.

Initial Thoughts
I thought that this book was okay. It was very readable but it wasn't a story that really stood out for me. I found a lot of the story to be rather predictable and there were a few very convenient coincidences. I did like the characters well enough and was curious to see how things would eventually work out but I don't think that I will be reading more of this trilogy. I listened to the audiobook and thought that the narrator did a wonderful job with the story.
Profile Image for Ruby.
299 reviews57 followers
January 7, 2011
Originally posted on http://rubysreads.com[return][return]I bought this book because I saw its beautiful cover one night when I was searching Amazon for books I might like to read. Then I read the description and I thought, Score! Romance, snobby private schools and me. It s a menage-a-trois made in heaven.[return]Sadly, this is one book that does not live up to its cover. It started out okay. The narrator, Renee, was likable enough. But the book s description pretty much gives away the plot. In fact, it pretty much tells the first third of the book. Could ve saved myself a hundred or so pages worth of reading and I d've been spared the winy, complainy, selfish mess that Renee disintegrates into.[return]At the beginning of the book, Renee has it all. She has a best friend, loving parents and a possible boyfriend. All of this changes when her parents die. Admittedly, a sad, sad event, but I never really felt that Renee s grief was real. I didn t share in her angst. It was more like she had broken up with them than that they had died.[return]Anyway, after her parents deaths, Renee s grandfather shows up as her guardian. Renee doesn t know her grandfather well because he has been estranged from her parents for a number of years. It s at this point that Renee begins her transformation from potentially enjoyable character to obnoxious teenager. She sulks and shouts and nobody understands her. Some of this I get. If both of my parents died at the same time, I d probably act like a brat even if it happened today. But Renee s brattiness doesn t read like it comes from the deep well of grief and unhappiness that you would expect. She s just, well, a brat.[return]And she only gets worse. On the top of my list of Obnoxious Things Renee Does is that she purposely does poorly in Latin so that the Cute Boy of the story (Dante) will have to continue tutoring her. Blech. That still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I mean, yes, we ve all done something embarrassing in the hope of getting a guy s attention. But risking your GPA crosses a line into no self-respect. Or maybe that s just me.[return]So, I didn t like Renee. What about the other characters? Renee s best friend, Annie, her almost boyfriend, Wes, and her grandfather, who feature so prominently in the first part of the story? Well, they fade into the background. To be fair, Grandpa does make a reappearance later in the novel for some important exposition. But he s sort of like the hair tie you keep in the bottom of your gym bag: You only pull it out if you have no other options. However. With Annie, Wes and Grandpa out of the way, that leaves the field free for some new characters: roommate Eleanor, geeky boy Nathaniel, and hot, mysterious boy-with-a-secret, Dante. Eleanor and Renee become good friends and joint conspiracy theorists. Nathaniel is merely a prop and never becomes much more than the geeky boy who serves as a nonthreatening male friend who is also a naysayer.[return]With Eleanor and Nathaniel out of the way, you ll have guessed who the most important new character is. If you haven t wait, seriously, you haven t? Well, it s Dante. The introduction of Dante into Dead Beautiful is basically this novel s downfall. Dante has some suspiciously familiar character traits. He s a loner. He s really, really beautiful. He doesn t talk to anyone except the heroine. When Dante and Renee are partnered in their Crude Sciences lab, I nearly guffawed. That was before the two touched and Dante has an over-the-top negative reaction and stops speaking to Renee for several days. By the time Renee reflected on how cold Dante s skin is and his remarkable ability to heal instantaneously, I was grimacing in disbelief.[return]Is any of this sounding familiar? Please tell me you re following my train of thought.[return]If you haven t caught on yet, maybe you re one of the two people left in America who hasn t read Twilight. Or seen the movie. I don t know if the similarities between Dead Beautiful and Twilight are intentional or if the author meant her book as an homage, or the publisher thought that a story so similar but with just enough differences would appeal to the audience that spawned a nation-wide teenage obsession. I don t really care. I m just disappointed I fell for it. I mean, I didn t even like Twilight that much the first time.[return]Let me quickly address the plot. It was predictable. I guessed what Dante s secret was by process of elimination. I knew he wasn t a vampire so my options were pretty limited. There are also plenty of hints. I confess I didn t know all of the details and you probably won t unless you read a lot of French philosophy.[return]As for all the deaths, yeah, I figured out what happened there too. I hope you re not reading this as a brag, because it s not. I d rather be kept guessing until the last page. That s part of the fun of reading a mystery. That doesn t mean I don t crow when I guess right but where s the fun in knowing too easily? The best right guess is the one you were never 100% certain of.[return]I don t think I ve ever said this, but this is one cover that deserved a better book.
Profile Image for Savannah (Books With Bite).
1,399 reviews184 followers
December 1, 2010
Ok, what a great and intriguing read. And the twist! I certainly did not see that coming. Beautiful Dead is a great read. Everything in it was perfect.

So as I started to read this book, I was thrown into a whirlwind of surprises. Poor Renee, always going through some many unexpected tragic things. I felt sorry for her, but was glad that she prevailed.

Renee arrived at this new school and her rebellious attitude has me giddy from the start. I immensely enjoyed her smart mouth, know it all attitude. It brought so much more drama and excitement to the book. And who doesn't enjoy a rebellious teen.

Now the love interest in the story was one so unique and detailed to beautifully. I love how Ms. Woon was able to tie it all together. I never saw that ending coming but WOW! She got me good. And what I loved the most about it was that is was unique. It was nothing that I've read before and it all totally fit.

Ms. Woon certainly wrote a book that completely caught me off guard. I was certain it was about one thing, but she managed to keep the suspense in the book so high, that I had no other choice but to continue to read until I finally saw the truth. And the truth was Dead Beautiful.

Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
August 12, 2012
TBR Reduce Challenge #34- 2012(Olivia)

Renée Winters had a wonderful life. She has a best friend named Annie and a hot boyfriend named Wes. She's just about to start her sophomore year and made it on the varsity lacrosse team. But everything changed when Renée spotted her dad's car on the shoulder of Redwood forest. Panicked, Renée raced inside, almost like something was propelling her to where she could find them and sure enough, there on the forest floor are her parents, cold and motionless with coins scattered around them and a white gauze-like fabric placed in their mouths.
To make an already troubled heart worse, Renée's parents willed her grandfather- a man that her parents never got along with and prevented him from knowing his granddaughter- as her legal guardian. A strict and determined man, Mr. Winters is convinced that her parents death wasn't just some random coincidence and that Renée may be in real danger, decides to send her to a private elite boarding school named Gottfried Academy in Maine. There, Renée links the mystery of her parents death with the mysterious mishaps at the academy and finds out what fate really has in store for her.

I've had this book sitting on my shelf for over a year now. I can't believe it's taken me this long to get to it, I was missing out on a fantastic paranormal read!

Dead Beautiful has all the exciting elements I like in my reads. Mystery, suspense, forbidden love, likable interesting characters with a boarding school setting.
Publisher Weekly called this "A Harry Potter start and a Twilight finish." And I simply couldn't agree more.
It really did have that HP feel when Renée first went to Gottfied Academy. The school has a old gothic feel to it that is heavy with odd traditions and views that line up with the teachers and subject quite fittingly.
These teachers are extremely disciplinary friendly, the subjects have an edge of darkness around them and felt so advanced and intellectual that I even had a hard time pronouncing some of them and the rules were ridiculous and unfair. I'd never be able to survive in a school like that. The Twilight ending was more about the revelations that we learn at the end of the book, which again, I wholeheartedly agree. Gottfied Academy has more then it's share of secrets and surprises and Renée Winters is very much caught in the middle, in more ways then she'd ever believed.

The writing is just fantastic. You could feel Yvonne Woon's determination to have everything set in specific motion. The pace was slow moving but it didn't feel dragged out or dull. We were educated with the Renée, knowing at the exact time she does. The story dwells on death which gives this a very morbid flavor for pretty much the entire novel, it also has a very serious tone not leaving any room for any real humor or even light moments. But for some reason it didn't bother me as much as it should have since I was completely absorbed and invested with what was going on, or at least trying to figure out what was going on. From the title of the book I figured that this pointed to some kind of paranormal, but I never would have guessed which one. I really have to hand it to Woon, she really put a lot of thought and energy into this particlar lore and I was impressed with how she handled it.

I really enjoyed all these characters and was thankful that this didn't have any 'mean girls' which I expected since this has, well, a boarding school setting. But it wasn't like that for this book. I really enjoyed Eleanor and Nathaniel. They added to the experience instead of just filling in the gaps. I din't care for Mr. Wintes in the beginning, but I don't think we were meant to till we understood him more later in the book.
I loved Renée. I love that she always speaks her mind and that she's always trying to figure things out. She can never just let the little things go and I found her passion and determination endearing.
As for Dante? What a keeper! Intelligent, devastatingly gorgeous, alluring and unpredictable.
Their relationship did indeed have that forbidden spell around them, but with a twist. A really really good freaken twist that I never saw coming!

Bottom line, I had a great time with this book. It's one of those reads where I felt okay taking my time with and absorbing the facts as they come. It's intelligent, solid, fascinating and chill-worthy.
I can't wait to find out what happens next in; Life Eternal!

This review and more can be found at;

winter haven books
Profile Image for Casey Ann Books.
125 reviews419 followers
March 20, 2011
God. Where do I start describing how AMAZING this novel is. I truly am speechless. Dead Beautiful is a compelling, heatbreaking, and heart frenching novel that I couldnt put down.

This book has got to be the most romantic book I have read in a long time. Each chapter, each page and each line had me crying, sighing and smiling. Ive never had a book touch me in such a way that had me thinking about it days after. The detail that Yvonne has put into this novel is spectacular. You can tell she has worked so hard at writing this novel from the amount of detail to the amount of pages.
The plot is something I truly haven't come across and I can see why the awesome people at Usborne publishers published it. You cant compare this plot to anything right now which is amazing. There is so many twists and turns so much mystery that it had my brain running over time thinking what the hell is going on in this Boarding school. It had me at the edge of my seat through out. I love how much the history of death was used in this novel. I learned things that I hadn't even heard about for example why people actually burry the dead in coffins....why they weren't a different shape or why in the ground. All these things had me looking back and actually thinking why do we do these things and its true.... people do forget why.. they just do it. The way Yvonne writes myths and made up things for the plot in this novel were so believerable I had to go and google them just to make sure they were not true.

There is a lot of surprises in this novel. And its really hard not to give spoilers because Its one of those novels you just want to tell someone about straight away and tell them everything. The amount of times it left my jaw hanging open and tears streaming down my face was unberlevable.

The characters in this novel stand out so much not at all two dimentional. Renee is such an amazing character. From her courage and loving personality to Dante the mysterious beautiful lead guy who has a huge secret that I couldnt even comprehed when first reading the book. Elenor the lovley and trusting good friend of Renee coming from the book you could definanlty relate her to one of your best friends. The way Gottfried Acadamey is described in the book is very you could say mysterious. It was once a childrens hospital. It kinda creeped me out sometimes. Dante and Renees realtionship is beautiful so beautiful I loved watching them fall in love. From the staring, to the talking to the holding to the declaring their undieing love for eachother. The quality of writing is fantastic the orginality, the pace, and the fluidity.

The one thing that had me was the ending. And not because it was over because I just wanted it to carry on, no it was how jaw dropping and heart renching and one of those things you didnt see coming. The beautiful way it ended had me in sheds of tears and just knowing that whats going to happen between Renee and Dante. It was truly one of those lose lose/win win situations. Beautiful just beautiful Sighs.....
Profile Image for Booknut 101.
849 reviews917 followers
June 18, 2012
what the hell is that? Pictures, Images and Photos

This was my first and final thoughts on this book. I mean, don't get me wrong I was in fangirlish awe for most of it - the middle bit was good, the murders and missing students was the highlight and Dante (what a hot name!) was hotter than a boiling pot of chilli in Mexico. But the beginning and the end made me want to break out into Avril Lavigne's "What the Hell".

I loved Rene. She is an awesome heroine, though a tad odd. She's perfectly ok with the fact that her best friend is crushing on the guy she's dating (Was she dating him? It was a little unclear) and doesn't seem to mind the fact that her friend knows more about him and what he's doing than she does.Weird.

When she found out that she was at first completely different from the normal teen girl reaction and I was thankful for that. Thank God, for a heroine that doesn't fall into the guy's arms and say "I'm never going to part with you no matter what!" even though . I was all like "Bravo! Congratulations on being so smart!"

And then she goes ahead and does it anyway - the whole "I'm never parting with you", "Your life means more than my own", "My life is nothing without you even though we've only known each other for like, a term", "You're so hot", "I don't care what happens to me" scenario.

Dustin is such a cutie. I love butler figures and this guy rocks - him and his random salmon-coloured chowder with weird cheesy globs. Her granddad is a ok, I guess (though he can be a little "Luke I am your father", "This is your destiny" a times). Dante was a raging inferno (lol!!!! :D) and Minnie was a sweetheart .

Don't get me wrong - I adored this book, but the end!! I mean, and then Dante had to go and !! But obviously neither of them seems to give a rat's fart about the important things in life...ooh! Like STAYING ALIVE. Because being with eachother is more important.


But props to Dante for his one liners and his witty attitude. :D
Profile Image for Amara Luciano.
Author 8 books170 followers
February 26, 2011
My Thoughts: *Note: May not be spoiler-free.* Dead Beautiful truly lives up to its name... The story itself is fascinating, ingenious really! I loved learning about Gottfried Academy, the myths, the history behind its founders and the reason for its opening... Basing the story around the Latin language, referring to it as "The Dead Language" and its significance to the story was intriguing in itself... Fitting the pieces together that make up the story was a fantastic process, simply because while you thought you pieced the whole big, seemingly unsolvable mystery behind the plot, new variables and uncovered information popped up, preventing the reader from truly grasping the entirety of the puzzle before the author was ready. Woon's descriptiveness, her imagery evoked wonder and amazement, granting me a clear picture of all that surrounded Renee. But, that was where my fascination ended...

Renee as a heroine didn't bode well with me. There was no connection between her and I. She didn't provoke any feelings of sympathy, happiness, or any real solid or tangible emotion. Instead, she basically annoyed me. She was really all about herself: finding out more about Dante, spending time with Dante, discovering the secrets lurking behind her parents deaths and the correlation to other student's deaths who died similarly. Never once did she show genuine concern about her other friends, the ones back home or the new ones she made at the academy. They were more like her personal walking sound boards, where she could dump her feelings and thoughts on them, but never consciously willing to return the favor. I'll be honest, that alone annoyed the hell out of me. The fact that her parents died right in the early chapters of the story, and that she was the one who located their bodies, didn't make me feel sorry for her, upset, or any other emotions really. Because there simply was no connection. Zip. Nada. I didn't get how she was feeling, being that I couldn't relate to her, and ultimately couldn't form a relationship with while reading as her story unfolded.

And Renee wasn't the only character I felt a sense of disconnect with. Her other friends, Eleanor, Nathaniel, and Annie, didn't scream, Know me! Love me! Hate me! When I meet new characters, I like to feel something for them. Anything. (Apart from annoyance, obviously.) If the bad guy's bad, I want to dislike him/her, get angry at him/her. And vice versa. And like with Renee's friends, I couldn't care less about the bad guys because of that automatic detachment. Worse yet, I didn't care too much about the good guys, so why would it matter if the villains hurt them? I didn't feel attached to any of them, so why be upset if something goes wrong for the good guys? So, while the cast in this book was developed, I wouldn't sat they are enjoyable or necessarily fun to read about.

Even Dante, while ethereally beautiful, sadly, was not everything I had hoped. And I don't think he did anything wrong... But, again, there was this disconnect from me the reader and him. I didn't really learn about him, there wasn't much of a personality to him to fall for. So, I guess that explains why I didn't fall head over heels for him like I was so expecting to! Many times, when I read, there's that magical, instant love that takes place between the two main characters. And while that's fine and dandy, and I believe it exists, I want to see these characters fall for what's inside too. Know each other. Talk to each other. Connect. And even though along the way they might have in the array of conversations they have that the reader isn't privy to, that's just it. I want to be aware of them getting to know each other. That's probably the best part of a romance. It's definitely great to read about the mind-boggling, soul-searing kisses/makeout sessions/hot embraces, but in reality, a full on relationship doesn't last, doesn't survive on that alone... I need a little realism to my romance, so sue me!

The ending was... really bizarre. I must admit I'm at the point of confusion intermingled with dissatisfaction. (SPOILERY!) So, Dante could resist kissing Renee, but she can't? And he wants to die for her, wasting the soul she just went through serious pains to give? Seriously?

I mentioned that Dead Beautiful firmly lives up to its name. Because it did. While the plot and the storyline were fantastic and beautifully written, the other aspects of it that would have made it great were flat, rendering it an okay read.

Favorite Scene:

"'Why do you keep staring at me?' she muttered under her breath.
Her voice was soft and low, and I was surprised by how forthright she was. How could I not stare at her? Even here, the afternoon sun shone through the glass ceiling, illuminating her face in a warm, rosy light, as if she were an otherworldly being, something sent to me by fate. No, she could never know that I had watched her, wanted her, loved her from that very moment" (448).

Thanks for reading!

Also posted at Paranormal Indulgence.
Profile Image for Jessie.
11 reviews
January 14, 2011
What a great book! Honestly all it takes to enjoy this book is to get past the slight similarities to Twilight. (But really, what book doesn't share some of Twilight's nonsense these days? :p) So once you get past the fact that yes, she moved from a warm sunny place and yes, she moved to a colder place and yes, the heart throb is a creepy, closed guy who is chilly then this book is AWESOME. I call it the MUCH BETTER version of Twilight. I mean, dead people are so much cooler then vampires, am I right? :p Also I like that Renee actually has something to gripe about in the beginning of the book. Bella was always so moody and angry, and for what? Her parents had been divorced for years and she was moving to a rainy place. Wow. I feel for you, babe. Not. Whereas Renee actually went through something devastating and therefor deserved to be a grouch with an attitude. Also the TWIST! AH I LOVED IT! I sorta guessed it from the middle of the book, but I was still all, "NO FRIGGIN WAY!" When I read it XD

so over all, this book is great. The only reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5 is the similarities to Twilight :)
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,088 reviews6,590 followers
February 13, 2017
This was crazy!! It was like a mixture of Harry potter and twilight (the good bits). It was a bit predictable at times but at the start and in the middle I had no idea what was going to happen! Loved it!
Profile Image for Susanna.
5 reviews8 followers
April 2, 2011
Guilt is responsible for the second star here. I knew going into this book that I wasn't going to like it and that if I finished it, I'd be ridiculing it the whole way. It was kinda the point, actually. Even so, if I take my guilt over that out of the equation, this was a bad book. It doesn't fail as badly as Hush, Hush and Personal Demons (which would be one star books for me only because Goodreads has no negative five star options), but in no way would I recommend it to anyone except as laughter therapy, and for that I might recommend it quite a bit.

Still…in the current Y.A paranormal landscape, there are some aspects that make it better than others. I'm admitting this grudgingly; all Y.A paranormals should have these stronger aspects to them without question, aspects that shouldn't stand out in bad books as the only good things. Aspects such as…a love interest who is not a jerk (more on him later), no ridiculous love triangle created to stir up drama (though the lines were drawn for one, maybe even a quadrangle--I was relieved the author didn't go there), a likeable best friend (who was pretty much the only character I liked), and the fact that there was a reason for the requisite "mysterious, unexplainable connection" between the main character and her love interest (even though that reason was borderline sick and twisted).

On its own merit, the book succeeded in originality by having a Latinate-based plot. To my knowledge, there are no boarding schools in any Y.A. books out there that base their curriculum around Latin, have Latin "Back to School" rituals, prohibit dating (there's actually a good reason for that, if good were redefined as sketchy), and outlaw electric lights after 9pm. (I actually feel like I'm giving away spoilers right now, because those are the most interesting things to be revealed in the first sixty pages that the back cover doesn't reveal.) The sheer weirdness of these elements were pretty awesome, especially for laughter therapy (these kids are all going to get corrective eye surgery as graduation presents). Honestly, I did like the weirdness. It was surprising. And funny. As was reading that the P.E class, which showed up only at the end, that focuses "around a life-threatening environmental situation that required athletic skills." The imagery of that made me laugh. I'm not familiar with most of the Latin classics, so any reupholstering she did to them couldn't offend me. Might be very different for a Latin geek.

OK, so the bad. Swimming through the cold, choppy sea of Twilight ripoffs, I have never, ever encountered one so blatant as this one. It was kind of staggering. At first, when Dante, the love interest, was introduced, I started calling him Dan because "Dante" seemed like a too obvious effort at making him seem cool. Then I started calling him Danward. He is Edward Cullen, down to his cold skin, his "carved in stone" features, the reason he won't kiss her ("I can't trust myself … You don't know what I'm capable of. I'm afraid to touch you, in case I break you"), their hand- tingling first touch in a science class, his four friends, the conversation about what kind of dangerous monster he might be and her various ideas…*deep breath* the fact that he can't sleep or eat, that they spent a night together with her just sleeping (I'm sure he watched her at some point), his incredible strength and beauty (honestly, considering the kind of paranormal thing he is, I do not buy this strength and beauty thing at all), a similar taboo, living in a small town, oh, and the name of the main character is Renee, named after Descartes but also the name of Bella's mom, which is…why did the author have to go with Renee? The Twilight hits never stopped coming. I feel like the author wanted to create a character like Edward Cullen in everyway except vampire to make some kind of point, about something…I don't know what.

The Twilight ripoff isn't actually the worst part of the book. I'm not a Twilight fan so I don't care that she cloned Edward, and as an anti-fan the cloning just made it more amusing. The worst part was that this book is just badly-written on every count, from sentences to plot structure and pacing, characters…it was horrifying. I have never seen so many dangling modifiers in one book ever. If I lost half a pound for each, I'd be skinnier than my toothbrush. The author, to add impact to a sentence, would start it with a conjunction and give it its own paragraph. Most of those "paragraphs" were about Danward. Super irritating. She would also end a scene, have Renee say something about the week that followed it, then say, "But let me go back" and jump back to that same scene. Choppy.

Renee was probably the worst character. At first, for about two-hundred pages, I thought she was smarter than some of her Y.A predecessors, but I guess love made her stupid. Her supernatural ability was evident on page one and made obvious on page one-twenty, and yet she didn't realize it until page four-twenty-two. She always dismissed it as, "Oh, there's that weird pull again, the one that led me to my dead parents." It leads her to a lot of other dead things, too (er, was that a spoiler?) but she never stops to analyze it or make the connection. And even though she believed in all of the paranormal stuff that happened, believed it easily, she can't believe in this one. She takes us through a recap of the obvious and angsts about, "How can this be truuuue," acting as though it's an actual surprise and we're supposed to be as flummoxed. There are more instances, including the one that leads to the ends; sans that one, this bugged me the most.

The romance between Renee and Danward was like trying to eat a stack of stale crackers in one go. So dry, so tasteless, so gag-inducing. It was cliché after cliché, crumbs spewed all over my brain as I gagged in rebellion. That's all I want to say about it.

In another writing fail, the book was four-hundred eighty pages, which was about two-hundred forty pages too long. Maybe if it had been cut significantly, it would have felt like things were actually happening in a cause and effect sequence. The tension would have been better--and by that I mean there would have been some-- and the themes would have been clearer. They were so muddled that when I got to the end, to Renee's decision, it seemed pretty pointless and empty. Her decision had no real impact because we hadn't seen her in a focused struggle with the questions she found answers to. Or maybe she did struggle, briefly, in the swampland of Too Many Words. I know I did.

I can't really get into the ending without giving spoilers I'd rather not give (it should be experienced for the full effect), but it was the most original weird ending I've seen. It was supposed to be poignant, but given the premise of her connection to Danward, it just felt like one…self-incestuous mess.

There's more that I could say, but this is sufficient and has gotten too long. It's a badly-written book, but unintentionally funny, not as inherently offensive as others, and crazy-weird. I recommend it only to those who really need something to laugh at.

Profile Image for Alisa.
244 reviews191 followers
March 17, 2013
I was going to review Sweet Evil. Then I remembered my friend wanted to try and review it. So, I was like," Sure. I'll find another book." And then I was going to review The Selection. But then, I found this book in my browse through Good Reads. And I was like, "Oh... I remember this book! I read it like a year ago!" So now I'm trying to see if I can remember it enough to write a review about it.

Let's see what I can remember... It was bad. And a copy cat. The overall story was like Twilight. With a few Mean Girls moments. And Disappearing Parent Syndrome. And some of Fallen.

Renee Winters's parents get murdered (DPS- check), and she is sent to some private school. She meets a guy, falls magically in love with him, and finds out he's a zombie.

Yep. A zombie. What zombie do you know that's not rotting? Apparently, Dante isn't the only one. Most of the school is filled with zombies. And the people taking some sort of Latin class are the zombies. Latin. I thought zombies had no brain power except for eating and walking. Latin. **Snort.

There was some screwed up mythology that I can't remember, but it was something like bury a body six feet under ground or burn it. Why? Because if you don't its going to come back to life. And the zombies only live for a number of years.

If a zombie finds his true love? Mate? I don't know- something, and kisses them, then they won't be a zombie anymore and the person that they kissed will be. So that was the reason Renee and Dante couldn't kiss. Fallen moment- check.

And apparently some people in the school take Latin, but not the special Latin. So Renee pretends to not know the answers of some stuff to spend time with Dante. Mean Girls- check.

Twilight moments are scattered throughout the series. There was that scene when Edward- I mean Dante- does something in Science class correctly, and Bella- totally meant Renee- checks it, and it turns out he's right. That's just one of the Twilight parts. (Others being a girl meeting a guy a lot older than her and "sparks" that fly when they touch).

Renee was an unlikable main character. She made stupid descisions. One of which was to forget that she has a boyfriend and crush on Dante. She's a flat character and has no character development at all over the story. And she was very narcissistic.

Dante- well, I can't remember Dante. I think he was creepy and stalkerish. Or maybe my mind has screwed up in remembering wrong.

Renee's friends weren't actually friends as more of two people that try (and fail) to make Renee seem likeable.

The romance was insta-love, as I've already pointed out. Way too much "I'd rather die than be without you!"

The writing was all tell, not show. Some word choices and sentences were weird.

The foreshadowing was well done, even though it was very predictable. Some parts surprised me, though. This is the only reason I didn't give Dead Beautiful one star.

If you want to be annoyed, then pick this book up. If not, good for you. Go the other direction.

Find this review and more at http://www.thereadingobsession.blogsp....
Profile Image for Donna.
1,045 reviews559 followers
August 4, 2011
"... In love, everyone does things that hurt the other person, so there really is no "Right" and "Wrong". You just have to decide what you're willing to forgive"

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I read this book, with not knowing much about it and reading some mixed reviews before hand but honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by it and I ended up really liked it.

Renee Winters was an ordinary girl, that is until her sixteenth birthday where she finds her parents dead in the woods. How did she find them; she was drawn to there bodies and that’s something Renee can’t explain. With no other family to speak of, Renee is taken in by grandfather who sends her to Gottfried Academy, a boarding school in Maine were she finds herself studying the dead language; Latin. While at school, Renee comes across the gorgeous Dante Berlin, who for some reason she feels drawn too. When he offers to tutor her in Latin, she realises there is more to Dante that means the eye and that he may be apart of a deadly secret that is happening at Gottfried Academy.

Wow! For some reason I though this book was about Ghosts! Well, you can believe my shock when I found out it’s not about Ghosts but dead people, I guess there kind of like Zombies but better. From page one you’re thrown into a whirlwind of surprises, suspense, mystery and honestly, this isn’t your average paranormal book. The story has exciting twist and turns and the storyline wasn’t predictable at all.

I found myself engrossed from the beginning, I mean come on, you’re thrown into Renee’s life and you instantly feel bad for her situation, losing her parents the way she did. Renee is such a likeable character, one that is well developed, head strong, determined to uncover the truth and that makes her a kick ass heroine in my books. I hate girls that are whiney but no matter Renee’s situation, she’s never lets it drag her down. And Dante is one hell of a guy, a total babe in my book. He made the undead seriously cool and if I found a guy like him, I wouldn’t want to let him go either. I also loved finding out his backstory and the mystery that involved him at the Gottfried.

The only reason I didn’t rate this book 5 stars was because I felt there was some information where Renee was with her classmates was a bit slower than the rest of the book. The book was 500 pages long and I think it could have been cut down a bit. Nonetheless, as you can tell by my review, I still enjoyed it.

Overall, Yvonne Woon has created an exciting new series and one I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.
Profile Image for A Book Vacation.
1,380 reviews715 followers
August 7, 2014
To see my full review:


Talk about a swift kick in the gut, Woon leaves readers frantic at the end of her engaging novel, Dead Beautiful. Although carrying many similarities to both Harry Potter and Twilight, Woon makes her novel stand on its own with her creation of the undead in a manner unlike any I’ve read about before. Steeped in mythology and lore, the novel really comes to life as Renee learns of her heritage and figures out just what exactly is wandering the halls of her prestigious boarding school, and though it certainly isn’t any secret to readers, as Renee begins to slowly figure it out, the novel sinks its hooks into the reader.

Yes, there were instances where I shook my head due to a lack of originality, points where the text was so eerily similar to others I’ve already mentioned that I was wary, but as the novel unfolds, if you stick with it, it becomes a beautiful, enticing story that will captivate readers to the very end–to the point where s/he’ll drop the books and demand the second book straight away. At least, that’s what happened with me, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it.

Along the way, I fell in love with the characters, and though I thought Renee was a little slow on the uptake, I did absolutely adore Dante, and the final revelations floored me; I immediately googled the series to make sure the second book was available, and thankfully, both books two and three are out. Seriously, that ending. Wow.
Profile Image for Erin Guinevere.
97 reviews17 followers
July 7, 2012
I loved this so much. I mean, it sort of reminded me of Twilight, but all the good parts of Twilight, not the bad parts.

The romance was actually believable. And hurrah, no love triangle! I loved Renee. I loved Dante. I loved Eleanor. I loved Nathaniel. I hated Gideon. It was just one great big emotional rollercoaster and I loved it so much. Interesting take on the Undead, beautiful writing and just a great book. I need the next one now!
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 7 books1,190 followers
April 4, 2011
So yesterday, while I was in the midst of being a good little worker bee, er, student and writing this awesome paper (okay, I’m not sure if it’s awesome right now but by the time I get done with it, it will be) when I had a stupid idea. What stupid idea, you may ask? Well, I have been “reading” this book for a few days now, you know, a page here, one page there but my idea (the stupid one) was to read this book in the breaks I took from writing said paper.

It was a stupid idea. I believe I have mentioned that oh about three times already so it must be true. The thing is, my brain was (it still is) in hyper critical mode, overthinking every single thing, just in case I miss something VERY IMPORTANT (it deserves capslock) that I can develop into an idea. So when I switch from paper to book, I carry this mindset with me and totally ruin the reading experience because I am now critically analyzing everything. So long rant short, sorry.

On to the book.

Let’s start with the cover. It makes me laugh. No honestly. The cape she’s wearing makes me feel like it’s a little girl dressing up as Count Dracula and I was totally expecting vamps in the book. I was wrong but it wasn’t far from the truth. And the model’s hairstyle is totally…fail. Those bangs are…well, I think they should rest in peace.

The story. Hmmmmmm. Let me tell you what the story reminded me of.

1. Twilight. (She meets the guy, is almost electrocuted by his touch. But there’s more. She meets him in “Crude Sciences” which everyone knows is another word for Biology. He is her lab partner. He is cold and haughty the first day and then all of a sudden, he wants to be friends. Sounds familiar right? Hey, I read the first book.)

2. Vampire Academy. Well, before Rose realized that she was a Dhampir – okay, that never happened but still, it had the same feeling about it.

The book felt like it was cobbled together by taking different parts of many other books. Not necessarily a negative thing but the fact that the parallelisms between it and Twilight were so obviously took off marks where originality is concerned. Couldn’t they have met in, oh I don’t know, English class?


I remained largely unimpressed by any of the characters in the novel. I didn’t like Renee at all. More times than not I felt there was no substance to her. She had no depth and God, she was so selfish. Her roommate and perhaps closest friend at the school, Elenor is clearly having trouble and instead of asking her about it, she’s upset that the girl is not around because she wanted to talk about her problems. Ergh. Seriously. Ergh. The love interest is a shadow, an echo of many other silent, more beautiful than the most beautiful thing you have ever seen and you know, all those other fun things – that is to say, he’s like any other love-interest (Edward comes to mind). The side characters – I didn’t see the point of them because they weren’t developed and even if they were, the plot was one hot mess and their purpose remained ambiguous.


So I really liked the inclusion of Latin in the story. I thought that was interesting. And the manner in which the author brings in philosophers shows her obvious knowledge of them. I liked all that. However, what I didn’t like was the lack of logic. Yeah, it’s an original idea. Something akin to zombies but not quite. Okay, this is going to be spoilery so STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK.

Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Anyway, so according to the author, when children die and aren’t buried, their souls leave the body, but the body remains “alive” and rises after nine days. After that they have 21 years to find their “soul” because when they die the first time, their soul are given to some other baby being born. So, they find the person who has their soul, smooch them and get their souls back - leaving the other person quite dead. Get that?

Every other book I have read has asked me to suspend my belief (other book in the Paranormal genre) and it has been easy to do because even if the idea is way out in the land of masked Martians, it still retains some sort of logic that makes believing if not easy than acceptable. This, I simply could not believe. In fact, my conscience was cackling like a hyena on coffee. A way to tell these Empty Bodies from Full Bodies, uh, humans, was the fact that the Empty Bodies would suddenly be proficient in Latin. I’m sorry but is the author suggesting that only European children die and then wake up? Is it a selective un-deadening? What about a little girl in India who keels over one day from lack of food. Does she not wake up? And if she does, will she speak in Latin? A language she has never heard of before. And what about places where there’s famine, hunger, war, where kids are dead in large numbers. Do they not wake up and wander around? Maybe I question things too much but I just couldn’t get my brain to believe it.

The Writing

I think Ms. Woon has a beautiful turn of phrase. There are some phrases that I wrote down (because I was being a citing monster at the time) that I quite liked. Remember how Edward has a velvet voice? Well, Dante has a “buttery voice.” I am telling you, I’ll take buttery over velvet any day. Buttery reminds me of popcorn and if I had a guy who sounded like popcorn, I’d take him to the movies.

Oh that was awful but I still laughed. Haha.

She also mentioned “vacant banter” that she and her friends engaged in. I think that’s an interesting way to say that they talking about nothing important.

The Ending

It was horrible. I sort of expected it but still, it was horrid. I didn’t see the point of it. I won’t give it away but I promise you, you will feel the same way. If it was meant to be a cliffhanger, well it had the exact opposite effect because it just made me decide not to read the next one in the series.


I didn’t hate it but I didn’t like it either. The book needed a lot more work plot wise. Of course this is just my opinion and no one is obligated to follow it. I think the author herself has a lot of potential, as I said, her descriptions are beautiful and if I could read just her descriptions and ignore the story, it would be awesome. Would I recommend it to you? No. Do I suggest you read it and formulate your own opinion? Of course. (Why should I suffer alone? :P)

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,765 reviews579 followers
December 19, 2013
After finding her parents dead in the Redwood Forest, sixteen year old Renee is sent to Gottfried Academy by her cold and distant grandfather. Gottfried is an elite private boarding school with a rather unique and unusual curriculum and there is something just “off” about the place, from its students to its faculty. Enter Dante, dark and mysterious, and like a moth to a flame, Renee finds herself drawn to him, in spite of his evasiveness about himself, they seem inexplicably destined to be with each other. Meanwhile Renee is discovering that Gottfried holds dark secrets within its walls, students are disappearing, some dying and the public cause of death feels far too wrong. Will the truth prove too much for Renee? Will her budding romance with Dante be threatened? How is her family connected to Gottfried’s history?

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon is truly an amazing young adult paranormal read filled with a dark sense of foreboding, a secluded setting and a uniquely detailed set of supporting characters that each seem to hold their own secrets. Some are dangerous, some seem completely harmless, but are they? Renee is strong, determined and resourceful, a little overly daring, but a wonderful reprieve form the angst-filled teens so often portrayed. Dante is the mysterious bad boy who isn’t really “bad,” and his protective nature around Renee just screams romantic in a dreamy way! Ms. Woon has carefully concealed the mystery throughout, there is no obvious ending early on, no clear and direct path to the story’s resolution, but an incredibly detailed and inviting trail to follow that forces the reader to become completely immersed in her world! If you’ve ever wondered about destiny, love, life or life after “death,” you need to read this thought-provoking and engaging tale! As the foundation for the Dead Beautiful Series, it promises even greater things to come!

I received this copy from Disney-Hyperion in exchange for my honest review.

Series: Dead Beautiful, Book 1
Publication Date: September 21, 2010
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
ISBN: 9781423119562
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Number of pages: 464
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Profile Image for Hem_Ana.
19 reviews1 follower
April 12, 2017
Dont read my review , if you truely want to fully enjoy this book ... provided you like goth background..

I was searching for a goth book for so long.. I enjoyed reading Fallen 1 by Kate Lauren but could not read any of the other books of the series.. (pointless and lenthy)
So I was so delighted to find this book..
Basically this series had 2 kind of beings.....
1) Undeads : Dead people under the age of 21 who weren't buried cum soul suckers
2) Monitors : who control them cum eliminate them.... (just like vamps vs weres)
And the same old forbidden love story of soul mates..

So, things I liked about this book are:
1) the goth setting............., the first book was spine chilling (to me at least) ... The old goth castles and towers and graveyards ... A Hogwarts kind of school (architecture wise) called Gothfried Acedemy ..
2) Hidden rooms, and old hidden out of print books ,and reference to History (Rene Descartes) and old philosophy about mysteries of life and death.
(I dont know how much authentic the author's research was, I did not bother to find out. )
3) adventure and suspense
3) no sex (wow !!!)

The things I did not like were:
1) the characters had no depth.. It was a light, easy-going read..
You dont want to remember a few facts.. its okay.. The author did not bother too..
2) I completed the series in 2 and half days.. The hero Dante (note) was barely there.
3) There was a poor third-person of a half hearted love triangle in the 2nd book, who didn't have any depth too..

This book is a one-time , good read .. I dont remember loopholes in this book. But maybe a more attentive reader would find them..
This book will earn 4 stars from me .....
1)for being a short series and
2)mainly for holding on to my undivided attention and
3) to my strong desperation to read the next line and next page for 3 cont. days
Profile Image for Lina.
158 reviews49 followers
February 11, 2020
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