Summary: Not alive. Not dead. Somewhere in between lie the Beautiful Dead.
Something strange is happening at Ellerton High. Phoenix is the fourth teenager to die within a year. His street-fight stabbing follows the deaths of Jonas, Summer, and Arizona in equally strange and sudden circumstances. Rumors of ghosts and strange happenings rip through the small community as it comes to terms with shock and loss.
Darina, Phoenix’s grief-stricken girlfriend, is on the verge. She can’t escape her intense heartache or the impossible apparitions of those that are meant to be dead. And all the while the sound of beating wings echos inside her head...
And then one day Phoenix appears to Darina. He tells her that she must help Jonas—the first of the four to die—right the wrong linked to his death. Only with her help can Jonas finally rest in peace. Will love conquer death? And if it does, can Darina set it free? -- Sourcebooks Fire
When I found out that Sourcebooks was launching a new imprint just for teens called Sourcebooks Fire, I became very excited. I love reading good YA books, and I was anxious to see what Sourcebooks had up its sleeve. BEAUTIFUL DEAD BOOK 1: JONAS by Eden Maguire was the first of the new novels that I read, and I was pretty impressed with it. Better yet, I think teens are going to really enjoy this book.
BEAUTIFUL DEAD: JONAS was a very quick read for me -- mainly because I really liked it and got caught up in the story. There was a lot of action, intrigue and excitement; and the supernatural aspect was kinda cool! I'm not usually a big one for zombie books, but I found this story and the background of the dead people to be really interesting. Maybe I am a fan of supernatural books and just didn't realize it!
I thought BEAUTIFUL DEAD was a pretty good book (even though I know I'm not the target audience.) I enjoyed the mystery angle of the book, and I really liked the character of Darina. Of course, she broke my heart at times; but I enjoyed seeing her spunk and determination. I also liked seeing how resourceful she was, and I thought her loyalty was sweet in so many ways.
I mentioned that BEAUTIFUL DEAD was a mystery book with some supernatural elements, but at its heart, I really think it was a love story too. I definitely can see the appeal there for pre-teens and teens with the relationship between Darina and Phoenix. The love was very pure, and I thought the author did a very realistic job of portraying how teens feel about their relationship (albeit Darina's and Phoenix's relationship was a little unconventional.)
As a mother of a 10 year old girl, I know this is the type of book that she is going to be begging me to read in another year or so. I can certainly see the appeal of this novel, and you should have seen the curious looks I was getting when I read it at the dance studio -- all the pre-teens were definitely checking it out. It breaks my heart to think that her innocent days of reading The Babysitter's Club are dwindling, but I actually wouldn't have any objections to her reading BEAUTIFUL DEAD. In fact, it will probably be one of the first type of supernatural teen books that I will turn over to her.
The only issue I had with this book (and I don't know that it's a big one) was the ending. I admit that I was a little surprised by the turn the book took. The entire book was pretty clean, especially as how it related to the love story between Darina and Phoenix; yet the ending was a little disturbing for me. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I did think the ending was the only thing keeping me from giving it to my daughter right now. What happens to some of the characters is not necessarily a good message -- it was more "revenge is okay, no matter the cost;" and I'm not entirely sure I think that's the right message to convey to kids. On the other hand, I'm not sure there really is (or should be) a "message" in this type of book. Maybe the book should just be enjoyed for the good story that it was.
BEAUTIFUL DEAD: JONAS is actually the first in a series of novels, and I admit that I intend to read the next books as well. It's very clear that there are at least three more novels planned because there are three more Beautiful Dead that Darina needs to help. There is an entire webpage devoted to this novel where you can view the book's trailer. In addition, if you'd like to check out the other tour stops for BEAUTIFUL DEAD BOOK 1: JONAS, click here.
Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a review copy of this novel.