I think it's safe to say that YA paranormal romance has been done so many times over and in so many different ways that those of us that really enjoy reading it have seen pretty much every take on it. That is, until now. "Dead Beautiful" follows some of the typical trends (girl meets mysterious, handsome boy) but the story running through is actually really unique. Despite how interesting I found the idea though, I really did struggle to stay engaged with the book and I'll explain why but to begin with, here's what it's about:
Renee has a great life, or she did, until she stumbled across the bodies of her parents in the woods. Completely deviating from her original route she has an unexplainable pull towards them and finds them with gauze in their mouths, coins on their eyes and all around them and the strange feeling that they've aged considerably since she saw them this morning. From this point Renee is shipped off to live with her Grandfather (who I think was initially supposed to be a character we wouldn't really like but I found him particularly intriguing).
Renee can't stay at her current school because her Grandfather lives too far away so she is moved to Gotfried Academy, a boarding school close to her Grandfathers lavish home. I absolutely love any story with a boarding school in it (perhaps it's nostalgic and reminds me of Harry Potter a little bit) and Gotfriend Academy lived up to my expectations. At Gotfriend mysteries surround every corner but they all seem to link to the death of her parents. The coroners claim that her parents died of simultaneous heart attacks - but if this is true, why are children at Gottfried believed to have died in exactly the same way? Is it really that common?
And then we meet Dante. Our token gorgeous and mysterious love interest. I absolutely loved his character and the way he interacted with Renee - it was nice to see that he actually did interact with her instead of being cold and aloof. Renee as a character is quite witty and funny to read about (I even felt she dealt with the death of her parents in an acceptable way - she didn't become annoying by moaning all the time as I might have expected).
So what didn't I like? I really struggled to like this book after some really obvious (and I mean massively obvious) hints were dropped regarding the cause of death of the characters. It just ruined the story - we really didn't need massive hints and I would have much preferred to have worked it out for myself towards the end. BUT, because I figured it out within about 10 chapters the remaining chapters demonstrating Renee's confusion and how oblivious she was to the situation just irritated me. I wanted her to hurry up and figure it out. I also felt that the author shoved in quite a lot of information within the very last two or three chapters making the ending feel a little bit rushed.
Overall, I really did like the idea and I thought that the characters were interesting - each of them (even the minor characters) seemed to be layered and well developed. However, after finding out what was going on I just lost interest and struggled to stay engaged. Despite this, I will read the sequel because the very last page has me hooked already and I'm interested to see where the author will take us - I just hope it keeps me guessing a little more.