Beautiful Dead – Book 1 – Jonas by Eden Maguire

“Not alive. Not dead.
Somewhere in between lie
the Beautiful Dead.”

In the past year, Jonas, Arizona, and Summer, Ellerton High teens, all died myseriously.  Phoenix is the latest one, victim to street-fighting and a knife in the back.  Rumors of ghosts are running rampant through this small, spooked community as it begins to try to heal from their shared tragedy.

Darina, Phoenix’s girlfriend is, understandably, grief-stricken.  While out walking, she becomes lost in memories and heartache – and lost in where she is.  As she walks, she hears a barn door banging in the wind.  She thinks to stop the banging and, as she peeks in the door, sees an astonishing sight – Jonas, Arizona, Summer, and her beloved Phoenix, standing in a circle in the barn.  Chanting.  And very much alive.

Delighted to find the love of her life “alive,” Darina is drafted into helping the Beautiful Dead.  Each “zombie” (their description) has exactly one year to find out what really happened to them – and get justice.  Jonas doesn’t have much time left, and, to help Phoenix, Darina must first help Jonas, Arizona and Summer.

Intriguing premise yes?  Execution? Well…there are some good parts and some not so good parts.  Good.  Yes, the interesting premise.  I can’t quite remember ever reading something quite like this before.  Some of the characters were pretty well written.  As typical to the genre, Darina is “oh no IN LOVE with Phoenix and will DIED without him” but she’s also smart, tenacious, and slightly crazy. Which describes a lot of teenage girls I know!

Not so great…the Beautiful Dead are described as pale, beautiful, and dead.  Sound familiar?  At least these dead, gorgeous teenagers don’t sparkle.  And they come with an expiration date.

Also, I was not thrilled with the ending.  I don’t feel that I can go into much detail here, as I don’t want to give it all away, suffice to say I feel like the ending sends the wrong message to anyone reading this book, teenagers and older readers alike.  I do not feel that what happened was acceptable and it feels like the message here is that it is.  And it’s not.  To say anything further would be spoiler territory; if you’ve read it, I would love to hear your opinion of the ending.

Still, there are enough good parts that I would like to at least read the next book in the series, the one about Arizona.  Despite a few freshman problems, Eden Maguire has a way with a story.  I’ll be interested to see how she grows as a writer.

Beautiful Dead
by Eden Maguire
Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Trade Paperback
On Sale: March 1, 2010
ISBN: 978-1402239441

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