Welcome to my part of the Dead Beautiful Blog Tour! So, today I was supposed to post about Yvonne Woon's school days but unfortunately, the information has not been sent which leaves me in a bit of a quandry. expect that due to all the Royal Wedding excitement and the extra bank holidays here in the UK (thank you Wills and Kate!) something has gone amiss. So, rather than leave you high and dry, I'm going to post my review for the book instead. Hope you enjoy.
I started reading the debut novel Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon with absolutely no idea what the story was about. It had been a long time since I’d read the synopsis so I couldn’t remember past the idea that it was paranormal YA fiction. It’s not a quick read at 480 pages but I never once felt daunted by this, in fact I hardly noticed and just kept reading. Most of my reading took place on a lengthy train journey, partly filled with screaming toddlers (I am a magnet for young children, I swear). Anyway, I’d struck up a conversation with a father and son at one point who were sitting in front of me and as they were leaving the train, the father approached me to say goodbye and I was so into the book, he actually made me jump! It was a really funny moment but the story had really pulled me in.
Whilst the idea behind Dead Beautiful is not original (it fits into a particular genre within YA fiction) , I really enjoyed the way that it was presented in a truly fresh way. It made me think of some writing advice offered by one of my favourite authors, Maggie Stiefvater who once said that it was not the idea that was important (lots of people have the same idea) it’s the execution of the idea that is paramount.
So do you want a hint at what the story is about? I’m going to post the synopsis from Goodreads:
"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".
I thought Dead Beautiful was a lot like a murder/mystery but with supernatural elements to the story. I really enjoyed piecing it all together as the mystery unfolded. Renee was a good sleuth like protagonist and I liked the idea that she has this special talent (I’m reluctant to use the word “gift” as I’m not sure that it is one) of finding dead things. This is not an idea that I’d come across before in a YA novel. I also really enjoyed her snarky sense of humour, particularly in the scenes when she first meets Dante. I think they both gave as good as they got if I’m honest and that kind of flirting totally floats my boat.
I will of course be adding the handsome, smart yet elusive, mysterious Dante to my list of literary boyfriends and what I really loved about him was his vulnerability, especially when we learnt his secret. I felt like Dante and Renee saved each other, both literally and figuratively speaking. It wasn’t lost on me that they both made each other feel more alive.
As for secondary characters, Nathaniel and Eleanor stood out for me but really the story centred around Dante and Renee.
Dead Beautiful was full of great one liners and lots of thought provoking ideology. It is clear that Ms. Woon has done a lot of research for the book, a fact that I really appreciated. I’ve always been interested in languages and I have to say that reading this book has reignited my interest in Latin. In all, Dead Beautiful is a little gem that deserves a lot of attention as it’s a beautifully written book. Steeped in mystery and mythology, this is a fantastic read and one definitely worth your time.
Dead Beautiful was released in the US in September 2010 and is being published in the UK on 1st May. You will be pleased to know (especially when you’ve read the book) that there will be a sequel entitled LIFE ETERNAL which is expected in Winter 2012.
To find out more about Yvonne Woon and her books, click here to visit her website. You can read the first chapter for free here.
Dont forget to check out the next stop on the blog tour Love Reading X tomorrow for Yvonne's Top 5 Teen Reads.