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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.
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Yvonne Woon grew up in Massachusetts, where she attended Worcester Academy. She lives in New York and has an MFA from Columbia University. Dead Beautiful is her first book.From School Library Journal:
Gr 7 Up–Renée Winters, after being inexplicably called into California's Redwood forest, walks right up to the spot where both of her parents lay dead after suffering apparent heart attacks. Stranger still, their mouths are stuffed with gauze and coins are scattered about their bodies. The teen is put under the care of her estranged grandfather, who sends her to Gottfried Academy, a boarding school devoted to Latin, philosophy, and a strange mix of sciences, located across the country in Northern Maine. There, she meets fellow student Dante and is intensely drawn to him–and he to her. A series of suspicious events occurs throughout the first semester as Renée and Dante grow closer and students mysteriously die. Woon slowly–yet suspensefully–reveals that children who die and are left unburied for 10 days wake up part alive and part deceased. Undead. Gottfried Academy exists to teach both the living and the Undead about this transformation and the rules concerning it. Dead Beautiful could be described as Twilight at Hogwarts. Despite numerous parallels to Stephenie Meyer's saga, Woon pulls off some interesting twists and captures readers with the romantic connection between Renée and Dante. This novel will be an easy sell to readers who are still dying for more paranormal, forbidden, chaste romance. Woon sprinkles in some philosophical ideas that set the story apart from others in the same genre. Riveting and different, it is a real page-turner.Emily Chornomaz, West Orange Public Library, NJ
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