After Renee Winters discovers her parents lying dead in California’s Redwood Forest in what appears to be a strange double murder, her grandfather sends her off to Gottfried Academy in Maine, a remote and mysterious high school dedicated to philosophy, “crude sciences,” and Latin: the Language of the Dead. It’s here she meets Dante, a dark and elusive student to whom she feels inexplicably drawn.
As they get to know each other better, Dante can’t seem to control his attraction either, and their desires gradually deepen into a complex and dangerous romance. Dangerous because Dante is hiding a frightening secret. A secret so terrible, it has him fearing for Renee’s life.
Dante’s not the only one with secrets, though. Turns out Gottfried Academy has a few of its own... Like, how come students keep disappearing? Why are the prefect-like Monitors creeping around campus during the night? And what exactly are the Headmistress and Professors really up to? Renee is determined to find out why.
When I selected DEAD BEAUTIFUL to read I had no idea what this story was about. I picked it up, skimmed the back cover and thought it was interesting enough to proceed. I was eager for an dark and edgier read and I could not wait to delve into the ominous mystery that surrounded this novel. Although DEAD BEAUTIFUL by Yvonne Woon is original and well detailed, I was vexed by it's lethargic pace and discontinuous plot line.
As I began reading DEAD BEAUTIFUL my curiosity was soon piqued as strongly as Renee's incessant need to uncover the truth about her parents death. Yet, it was not long before the story began to push my limits on patience. One issue I had in particular was Renee's incomprehensible ignorance to the obvious issue she had surrounding her. This bothered me for she seemed a smart enough girl, fearless and outspoken; the perfect combination for the investigative adventure that was part of this dark mystery. And while on the subject of dark mystery there is no one more dark and mysterious than Dante Berlin. He and Renee are drawn to one another and when together he feels more alive while she seems to feel her energy drain. Hmmm...I wonder why?
Although I found the pace too slow for my taste, I did appreciate the world building that was key to DEAD BEAUTIFUL. It was original, mysterious and inventive and I especially enjoyed the historical groundwork that peppered the storyline. But despite that fact I had problems with the overall flow of the the story, it seemed a bit jumpy and repetitive leaving me to re-read passages just to make sure I had not misread anything. I was also very irked by how certain characters storyline were down played and never fully explored like Eleanor and Nathaniel and don't even get me started on the ending. I detest ending a book with more questions than answers.
As I originally stated. I did not go into reading DEAD BEAUTIFUL with any expecations but I feel that this story could have been so much better. It had great promise with a unique plot line that just did not fully deliver. Yet, I know that there will be some readers that will enjoy this story with it's heartbreaking romance, mystery and ominous tones.