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Dead Beautiful (A Dead Beautiful Novel) Hardcover – September 21, 2010

4 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Dead Beautiful Series

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Editorial Reviews

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
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

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

Product Details

  • Age Range: 18 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 - 12
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Series: A Dead Beautiful Novel
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781423119562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423119562
  • ASIN: 1423119568
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Angela on September 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I didn't have any expectations going into this book, and I was so pleasantly surprised that I loved it the way I did. I was engrossed from the beginning of the story, when poor Renee finds her parents dead in the woods, to the bitter and shocking ending that left me reeling. This book was set at a boarding school, which is a setting that I really love when it's done well, which it was in this case. The teachers and students are all beyond smart and each has a compelling personality that draws you in.

Renee was a fantastic main character. She was smart and resourceful. Even dealing with the shocking death of her parents, she is strong and stands up for what she believes in. When she moves to the mysterious Godfried Academy and finds that there are things there that might lead her to answers about what happened to her parents she is unstoppable in her quest for answers. Dante is the classic male lead, handsome and mysterious and everything a girl is looking for. He was completely devoted to Renee from the moment they got together. Although he was the classic male lead, he was also charming in his own right and a lot of fun to read.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think a lot of you will as well. It had a mystery that had me guessing through the whole book. The paranormal element in this book was one of the biggest mysteries, so I won't give it away, but I will say that it was really unique. I'm really looking forward to reading more from this author!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I give Dead Beautiful a three star rating because the concept is really great, but the execution is a bit slow and boring.

Basically the book centers around a girl named Renee who loses both her parents in a freak 'hiking accident' and is sent away to a prestigious boarding school in Maine, where she meets her love interest, Dante, and works to uncover all the mysteries of the school and her parents untimely deaths...

What I loved about this book is how unique the mythology was. I have grown tired of reading paranormal YA literature about vampires, werewolves and fallen angels. Dead Beautiful focuses on another 'creature' of lore, which I will not reveal as the mystery is part of the story. I loved that the concept of mortality, as opposed to immortality, is so prevalent throughout the book. And I loved how the school is portrayed, yes it is a stereotypical medieval/gothic/dark boarding school, but it is not the dirty, depressing structure that you will see in other books within this genre (Fallen, Evernight, etc.). The school has an interesting history within the book, and feels as though it could actually be a real place...Gottfried Academy...even the name has a nice ring to it.

I also loved the incorporation of Latin into the story. I love the Lingua Latina, and was pleased to see it used as such an integral part of this book.

A few things I did not like were the character development, the pacing, and the romance. The characters never seemed to be fully fleshed out. They showed potential to become truly memorable characters, but they never really evolved from the awkward teens presented at the beginning of the novel. In fact, certain characters seemed to regress.
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Format: Hardcover
It's not often that I come across literature-quality writing in YA fiction. And let's face it, most of us read YA fiction (teens and adults alike) for the escape it offers us and not necessarily for much else. This isn't to say the writing in all YA fiction is sub-par...but truly top-notch writing, the kind that gives you chills and makes you want to sloooow down and cherish every word, perhaps even reread the book just after finishing -- well it's not something that happens on a regular basis.

You probably know where I'm heading with this. Dead Beautiful is very much a GREAT YA novel. Within the first few paragraphs of the first chapter, I knew I'd stumbled across something really fantastic.

Renee is an incredible female lead: she acts her age yet she's also strong and not afraid to zig while others zag; she responds as one would expect in the face of tragedy, opposition, and fear yet she still remains a sympathetic character (unlike in some novels where the heroine's self-pity and negative attitude weighs down the entire story); her relationships with those around her evolve naturally without feeling rushed.

The plot is truly unique. It unfolds slowly and delicately allowing the reader to savor the surroundings and get to know the characters better. Yes, this is a "boarding school" book...so certain elements remain the same: girl is thrust into new school environment, must navigate social waters while solving a mystery, will align with some peers/teachers while inadvertently pissing off others, etc. But the overarching story is really something else. I won't throw out any spoilers here but it took me about 3/4 of the way through the book until I slowly pieced together what I thought was going on. And even then, I only got about half of it right.
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By Alice on October 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
If you liked the Hunger Games then Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon is for you. I highly recommend this incredible novel targeting young adults seeking something a little different from the usual teen drama. This book has everything you could ever want. Drama? Cliques and secret clubs? Romance? Coursing through every paragraph. Mystery? Behind every ivy covered door.

When Renee Winters' parents mysteriously die, she finds herself at Gottfried Academy, an eerie boarding school. Here, some of her peers seem odd and out-of-the-ordinary, but she makes new friends and, without realizing it, makes enemies too. Soon, the dramatic and strange deaths of students, similar to those of her parents, set the tone for an exciting supernatural tale. As Renee unfolds the mystery of Gottfried Academy, she becomes immersed in the drama of teenage romance.

Yvonne Woon doesn't waste a word on introductions to unimportant characters, encouraging you to feel as if you have an intimate relationship with each person on the page. Instead, much like The Hunger Games, Dead Beautiful has a strong female lead, facing starkly troubled times, but without close friends at the outset. Emotionally, Renee has to bottle everything up, even though a few adults help out along the way, including Renee's grandfather who aids with some crucial clues. For those seeking a positive, upbeat character to admire, Renee may come off as a cranky teenager so she may not please everyone. However, for many, Renee's troubled emotions will feel very familiar.

Dead Beautiful will not satisfy the reader longing for a big, outdoor, fast paced adventure like the wilderness of The Hunger Games.
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