Ellerton High School has been having a rash of student deaths over the last year. First Jonas, then Arizona, finally Summer, and Phoenix. All this death has everyone in the town on edge, but particularly Darina, whose boyfriend Phoenix was the latest fatality. Sure, they’d only been together for about 2 months, but clearly Phoenix was the LOVE OF DARINA’S LIFE and, you know, she is finding it difficult to go on. Until one day, Darina is sure that she sees not just Phoenix, but also Jonas. Did they really die, or are they still alive? Eventually Darina learns that the four dead Ellerton High students are now what are called the Beautiful Dead – zombies, basically, but not the brain-eating sort that we are used to. They have been allowed to return to earth in the dead-but-not-ghost form for a period of up to one year in order to work out the issues surrounding their deaths, and Darina is going to be allowed to help them. First up, Jonas.
For what looked like a very exciting new paranormal YA series and sounded like an interesting premise, the first installment of “Beautiful Dead” did not capture my attention at all. It actually took me three days to read this 200 page YA novel, because I just wasn’t ever particularly interested in picking it up. Among my issues were Darina’s over-the-top drama about Phoenix – when she learns he is in limbo she wants to die to join him, after 2 months of dating (yes, I know she’s a teenager and some teenagers are overly dramatic about love issues, but still!); the one-dimensional quality of most of the supporting characters (seriously, couldn’t keep the other high school students straight); and the fact that the way the beautiful dead resolve the issues around their death seems to be focused on revenge. Plus there was the fact that two of the beautiful dead are named Phoenix and Arizona. Taken individually either name would be fine, but together it makes the whole thing seem ridiculous, I couldn’t stop thinking “Phoenix, Arizona.” Adding Summer in as as a name didn’t exactly help, since that is sort of what I think of when I think of the physical location of Phoenix, Arizona.
The writing was good, but I simply could not bring myself to care one whit about the story. Although I have a hard time not continuing series, even if I didn’t love the first book, I don’t think I’m going to bother reading about the resolution of Arizona, Summer, and Phoenix’s deaths. That said, there are certainly others who felt very differently, so if you think you might be interested in this series, check out some of the other blogs on this tour.