Friday, December 3, 2010

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

How did I like it? Here's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It's been months since the last time I read a YA paranormal romance book and felt so completely satisfied by the end of the story.

Need a recap? Click here for goodreads summary of Dead Beautiful.

Renée Winters is the main character of this story, and unlike so many other YA protagonists, this one doesn't get under my skin. She's not annoying at all. Her reactions to her parents death (don't worry, this isn't a spoiler. You find out her parents die on the back blurb of the book!) is completely normal and not an emotional overload for the reader. In fact, that's a good way of explaining this book. It has drama without being overly dramatic.
After her parents die, Renée is sent to a school where she meets Dante (awww, sigh, heart palpitations happening right this moment), a guy I could easily see every teen forming a crush on (and every 27 year old adult---sh! It's a secret). Let's face it, one of the things teens love about paranormal romance is 1) cool stuff happens that they wish happened in real life 2)they can have a bookmance with the hero. Okay, those are just my reasons. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce the hero of the story.

Dante Berlin (cool name btw) is a great hero. You don't have to be a bad boy to have bad ass bookmantic appeal. He's mysterious and stays mysterious throughout most of the book. You can't figure out if he's intentionally keeping the truth from Renée, or if he is just as clueless as she is. There is one thing I wish had more page space: the interactions between Renée and Dante. I felt the book, for all of its 455 pages, needed to show more building up to their romance. Yes, they are drawn to each other for inexplicable reasons (that become very clear by the end). Yes, they have some PG-13 steamy scenes. But, I didn't feel enough tension build between them before they got together. And, of course, it's always the tension that we readers like the most. Okay, by we, I mean me.

There were a few times near the middle of the book that I wondered where is this plot headed? The foreshadowing sort of...kind of...had me guessing where the end would take us, but it wasn't enough that I could actually solve all of the mystery until maybe the last 3 chapters. This is a good thing and a not so good thing. I think it was about half way through the story that I got a bit frustrated (this is normal with me...I'm always frustrated with a book in one way or another...I don't see it as a bad thing, either) because I wanted more to happen...FASTER. But, looking back, it was all worth it. In the beginning, and for most of the book, the plot seems a lot simpler than it actually is. It took a lot of "little" events to build up to an end the reader could understand.

I just want to point out a wonderfully written scene, one that I can appreciate from a writer's perspective.
Excerpt from Dead Beautiful, written by Yvonne Woon:
"Are you okay?" Dante asked, kneeling by my side.
I nodded, barely able to speak. "I'm fine."
"Stay here," he said, touching my cheek. "So I know you'll be safe." And with that, he grabbed a loose shovel that had fallen from the shattered hutch and ran out the door in pursuit of *Someone.*
Picking myself up, I followed him.

*Someone* was used to prevent a spoiler.

So, what is it I love about that scene so much? Dante tells her to stay put, and she follows him without any thoughts like, "I know Dante wanted me to stay here, but I had to follow to make sure he was ok yada yada yada." It would have spoiled the moment. It says a lot about Renée's personality that she didn't stall and think about it. She wasn't going to just stay there. She had to go see what was happening. Obviously, she had to, the book is from her POV. But, regardless, it was very well executed.
The last page had me re-reading. I don't mind that at all. I think the twist is great, and I can only imagine (and am quite excited) about all the things that can occur in book 2 because of it.

My overall rating: