Monday, 19 December 2011

Beautiful Dead: Jonas by Eden Maguire **Review**

Beautiful Dead: Jonas by Eden Maguire
Series: Beautiful Dead #1
Publisher: Hodder
Release date: 2nd April 2009
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Waterstone's | Amazon US

Goodreads synopsis:
Something strange is happening in 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.
Rumours 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 echo inside her head! And then one day Phoenix appears to Darina.
Ecstatic to be reunited, he tells her about the Beautiful Dead. Souls in limbo, they have been chosen to return to the world to set right a wrong linked to their deaths and bring about justice. Beautiful, superhuman and powerful, they are marked by a 'death mark' - a small tattoo of angel's wings. Phoenix tells her that the sound of invisible wings beating are the millions of souls in limbo, desperate to return to earth.Darina's mission is clear: she must help Jonas, Summer, Arizona, and impossibly, her beloved Phoenix, right the wrong linked to their deaths to set them free from limbo so that they can finally rest in peace. Will love conquer death? And if it does, can Darina set it free?

I've never felt that I need to post a bad review for a book before I came across this one.
I really wanted to like this book. The premise of the novel sounded vaguely promising - a new take on Zombie fiction, where instead of having rotting flesh and incomprehensible groaning noises, they are the 'beautiful dead' - souls given the appearance of having substance in order to complete unfinished business to eventually escape from limbo and into the afterlife.
I was fantastically underwhelmed by the novel, and admit to having given up at just page 83 (and it was a struggle to get even that far!).

Instead of reviewing the book as such, I'm going to give you my reasons for deciding to leave this one unfinished. This is not to say that you would not like the book - it would be a very boring world if we all liked and disliked the same things - but they are my own reasons, and I hope you consider them when you pick up the book for yourself. I don't want to give any false hope.
My first, and most prominent reasons for having given up on the book was the lack of character development. I felt as though the author was keeping me at a distance, only able to observe the characters, rather than get to know them, which was a fairly alienating experience when you're supposed to feel sympathetic towards them. Darina was irritating to say the least - as was her 'relationship' (if you could even call it that) with Pheonix - their romance wasn't believable, even when they were together, and I found myself gritting my teeth during the scenes when they were together, it was that cringe-worthy. I also found myself not caring for any of the characters at all.
The other 'Beautiful Dead' - Jonas, Arizona and Summer - all acted the same. If the author didn't tell us who was speaking at any one time, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them. Also, like Darina, they were incredibly irritating. Even Hunter, who is supposed to be the terrifying antagonist, was ineffectual and irritating.
So even 83 pages in, I didn't feel like I knew any of the characters at all - not even the protagonist. Not a good start.

The second reason for giving up on the novel was the lack of any depth in the plot. The story started off blandly and didn't really develop any further to keep my interest. This is a real shame - I feel that had the book been written more skillfully and developed with more care, it would have had a lot more potential. Rather than the story developing slowly we were thrown straight into the middle of things, which as you may know from some of my other reviews, is not always a bad thing when executed well - this, on the other hand, was almost like a child was telling the story: "Darina's boyfriend died, she's upset. But then she sees his ghost and decides she still wants to be with him even though he's dead. Evil, horrible Hunter arrives and threatens her but then decides to use her to his advantage" etc - the plot really doesn't go any deeper than that. It's incredibly shallow, in my opinion.

Again, I'm not going to say that this would not be an entertaining read to others, but it just didn't hit any of the right buttons for me and I didn't feel it was worth my time finishing it, especially with University deadlines looming. It might be something that could be read as a quick, easy read, between reading something with a little more depth and challenge to it.
This is not a series I will be picking up again though. I'm very disappointed.


GF Book Mom said...

I would love to get Amazon gift cards for Christmas. There are so many books I would love to have.

HeroineAddict said...

It's always hard to write a bad review...but thanks for the heads up!

- Genny @ Books Are My Heroine

Stephanie Verhaegen said...

A friend of mine who also read it also didn't like it. So now I'm sure I'll never read it. Thanks for sharing the review.

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