Coming from sunny California, the mist-shrouded Academy was a shock, with its strange customs, ancient curriculum and study of Latin - the language of the dead. Then I discovered that the school has more than one dark secret... I also discovered Dante. Intelligent, elusive and devastatingly gorgeous, most people can't decide whether they love, hate or fear him. All I know is that when we're together, I've never felt more alive - or more afraid.
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.
Renée Winters is a fantastic character. She is a normal teenager, full of angst and insecurity. I liked this character a lot; she deals with a terrible tragedy that has her moving from her friends and everything she knows, to a private school full of secrets and mystery. There she meets Dante, who has his own secrets. Will she be able to discover the mystery surrounding the school, or will fate clash with her destiny?
I started to read this book and was quickly drawn into it. However, the further I got into the story, the more I was reminded of another YA book I had read previously. The story was somewhat similar, although there were differences too. I will not name the book, because it wouldn't be fair to both these authors. I am not suggesting there was any impropriety by either of these authors. It was just that the story arcs were very similar and, although the characters and plot were slightly different, reading this story gave me a sense of déjà vu.
This story may seem morbid to a few readers, as it deals with death, but I was intrigued with the use of the dead language Latin (the language of the dead, as the author describes it in her book) and the concept of being undead (a type of sentient zombie). However, this book is also about life. The author has taken the concept of soul mates and given it a tweak with a huge twist!
The story is told from Renée's point of view, but there is a chapter at the end with a switch to Dante's point of view, which actually had me in tears. There are several characters in this book, and they are all very lifelike. Renée's grandfather is quite a daunting character, and seems to be a strict disciplinarian (thankfully, not physically). He actually scared me! Dante is mysterious and secretive, but when I found out his secret and how he is tied to Renée, I was very surprised and slightly shocked.
The suspense and mystery surrounding the school, and Renée's ability of being drawn to dead things (people and animals) kept me hooked and, although this book is 512 pages long, it still felt too short! There are several twists and turns that kept me guessing! The ending made me feel happy and sad at the same time; I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series as soon as I can.
Yvonne Woon has written a dark, mysterious and suspenseful young adult novel that is compelling and thought provoking. I loved her writing style, which although not as fast paced as some of the other authors I have read, is very descriptive and flowed wonderfully.
Due to the dark subject of death, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. However, I recommend this book to teenagers aged 15+ or to those adults who love to read the YA genre. - Lynn Worton
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