From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–Renée Winters, after being inexplicably called into California's Redwood forest, walks right up to the spot where both of her parents lay dead after suffering apparent heart attacks. Stranger still, their mouths are stuffed with gauze and coins are scattered about their bodies. The teen is put under the care of her estranged grandfather, who sends her to Gottfried Academy, a boarding school devoted to Latin, philosophy, and a strange mix of sciences, located across the country in Northern Maine. There, she meets fellow student Dante and is intensely drawn to him–and he to her. A series of suspicious events occurs throughout the first semester as Renée and Dante grow closer and students mysteriously die. Woon slowly–yet suspensefully–reveals that children who die and are left unburied for 10 days wake up part alive and part deceased. Undead. Gottfried Academy exists to teach both the living and the Undead about this transformation and the rules concerning it. Dead Beautiful could be described as Twilight at Hogwarts. Despite numerous parallels to Stephenie Meyer's saga, Woon pulls off some interesting twists and captures readers with the romantic connection between Renée and Dante. This novel will be an easy sell to readers who are still dying for more paranormal, forbidden, chaste romance. Woon sprinkles in some philosophical ideas that set the story apart from others in the same genre. Riveting and different, it is a real page-turner.Emily Chornomaz, West Orange Public Library, NJ
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Darkly handsome Dante Berlin is the object of every girl’s desire at gothic Gottfried Academy, but he seems unreachable until new girl Renée Winters crosses his path. They discover a mutual attraction, complicated by the fact that Dante is undead and Renée is very much alive. A string of murders that create more undead causes Dante and Renée to start an investigation that reveals the true purpose of Gottfried Academy as well as the potentially fatal connection between the two teens. Boarding-school story meets Murder, She Wrote meets the Twilight series in this nifty title, which also offers an attention-grabbing take on zombies. Detailed world building and setting contribute as much to the story as character and plot. Atmospheric touches such as school rituals, classes like Imaginary Arithmetic, and the use of Latin as the “insider” language all add to the ambience. This lacks the sassy humor of many zombie books—not a failing, just a fact—so give this to the earnest Twilight crowd but also to teens who like impossible love stories with supernatural flavor. Grades 8-11. --Cindy Welch
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