Publication Date: 1st May 2011
At Gottfried Academy, just one kiss will take your breath away. After Renee discovers her parents dead in what appears to be a strange double murder, she is sent to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious high school dedicated to philosophy, 'crude sciences', and Latin: the Language of the Dead. Here she meets Dante, a dark and elusive student who harbors a deadly secret, but to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. Despite himself, Dante cannot control his attraction to Renee either and their desires gradually deepen into a complex and dangerous romance. But Dante's not the only one with secrets...Gottfried Academy has a few of its own. When Renee begins to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a former student, she begins to realize just how deadly these secrets are...Dark romance meets haunting murder mystery in this captivating tale of love, death and destiny.
It's the date of Renee Winters' 16th birthday, and Renee and her best friend are on their way home from the beach. Renee decides to drive a different route to the one she usually takes, unsure of why she's taking the longer way home. Whilst driving, she spots her parents car, abandoned on the side. Renee gets out so she can search the woods for them, and she does find them; dead, with gauze in their mouths.
Renee is now left to be cared for by her grandfather, who she has't seen for years, because him and her parents had a big argument and fell out. Her grandfather believes that Renee is no longer safe where she is, and announces that she has been enrolled in Gottfried Academy, an elite boarding school.
Renee knows that she doesn't belong here, not really. The things that go on in the school are like nothing she's seen, and it seems like the thing she can look forward to in her new life is mysterious, brooding Dante Berlin. But Dante isn't exactly what she thinks he is...
I've seen a lot of mixed reactions to this, but I can honestly say that I really enjoyed reading it. A lot of the reactions are due to the fact that it's quite similar to Twilight, but in my opinion, Woon's writing is much richer and the way she has presented the concept is much more fresh and interesting. The novel was so atmospheric and graceful, there were whole paragraphs with some truly fantastic descriptions that highlighted the dark mood and I LOVED that.
I really liked the idea of a forbidden relationship between Renee and Dante, how they can never physically be together without Dante harming her and it was intriguing to read about. I wasn't too keen on how Renee completely 'forgot herself' whenever Dante was around though, judging by the fact that she's a very intelligent, resourceful girl. She didn't take on the 'Bella' role in any ways but this one, but I still really liked her. Dante as one of the main characters was fab. He had that gorgeous, mysterious element about him that us girls find ourselves swooning over, and his charm was lovely, but what really made me like him was the vulnerability he had, particularly when we find out his secret. I think that aspect of their relationship was what made it work, and it sort of ties up the whole book together, because a lot of what happened between them was drove the major twist and turns.
Another thing I enjoyed about Dead Beautiful was that you'd suddenly come across an important clue in the novel, that Woon has so artfully placed, and then as you try to fit it in with the other pieces another one just happens to uncover itself! The mystery aspect of the story was awesome, I LOVE my mysteries and Dead Beautiful did not disappoint.
Dead Beautiful is skillfully-written, haunting read! Yvonne Woon is a writer to watch! I'm really looking forward to the sequel, called Life Eternal, which is expected to be realised Late 2012.