Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Review: Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon book cover

Title: Dead Beautiful
Author: Yvonne Woon
Series: Dead Beautiful, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 3.5 / 5

Add to 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.

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

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Zombies. Not my usual supernatural creature of choice, but hey, I'll be open-minded. First off, let me stress, I think this book has oodles of potential. I really liked the thinking surrounding death and the Undead, and how they are created. I found it absorbing and it could have been turned into a wonderful – and dare I say, quite original – story. My BIG issue: It contained so many “Twilight Moments” it took the emphasis away from those interesting qualities. It cheapened the story, leaving many areas to find issues with. Let me clarify: It is not so much what happens, it is how is happens I have a problem with.

For example: Let’s be honest, when we were in school, the vast majority of us shared a class with the person we were currently crushing on. It happens! That’s normal. Great. Brilliant. BUT! Why, oh why, in Dead Beautiful, does the class they share have to be a science class? And Renee and Dante end up lab partners? Complete with a scene in the dark where they can get nice and cuddly (YA style of course)?

Also, the way Dante and Renee are interacting with each other: quite a few instances in their dialogue were ringing bells with what Edward says to Bella, or vice versa. Have a look at this:

“Renee, what if I hurt you? I would never forgive myself”

“You won’t hurt me, I know you won’t”, I said, raising my hand to his face. He pressed it against his cheek.

“You don’t understand. You don’t know what I’m capable of. I’m afraid to touch you, in case I break you; I’m afraid to talk to you, afraid you’ll realise that I’m a monster. But every day you’re still here” he gazed at me. “I can barely control myself when I’m around you.”

I swear I read something very similar in Twilight. I confess, when I read this part, I had to put the book down and walk away for a while.

Oh, and a requirement that most Twilight-esque YA books should have: The confession of being seventeen, told in a mountainous forest – I mean there are no other ways this information could be found out, or other locations where this conversation could take place… None at all! *rolls-eyes*

Also, the Board of Monitors, and what they represent, reminds me of Night School – a series by C.J. Daugherty that I adore. That series also takes place in an academy by the way. Actually, quite a lot of the academia side of this book rings familiar bells.

It’s a shame, because, when I pull away all these familiar parts, what was left I did enjoy reading. I read this book in about two and a half days. At 505 pages, it’s not a short read! It captured and held my attention, and I wanted to find out what was going to happen as quickly as possible. As I said above, it has the potential to be a really brilliant story. I’m just really frustrated that it seems necessary to follow the Twilight timeline to create a YA book these days. I beg you, leave Twilight where it is! Move on, please! Create something even better. I’m on the fence about continuing with the series. Right now, I will, but it’ll depend on my mood if I come across Life Eternal on my next shopping binge. <-- Yes I confess, I am quite the shopaholic when it comes to books…

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