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.
At first it was respect. Renee was going through a tough time with her parents’ deaths and all that and through the beginning stages (turned out to be the only stage) of her coping, I respected her a little bit. She didn’t seem to wallow in self-pity.
At first, there were good descriptions. There were paragraphs that had excellent descriptions that really brought out the feeling and tone of something. For instance:
Excerpt from hardcover edition, p. 12“Our house was the kind where you could touch things, my mother used to say. It was modest but lived in, with stucco walls covered with photographs, and big glass windows that let in the morning light. The grass was never mowed on time, and the pool out back was littered with leaves and beetles that always got stuck in my hair; but on a hot summer day it all seemed perfect. I stared at my grandfather’s shoes. They looked uncomfortable.”
And then things began to get annoying. I found it hard to connect to her character as I got a little bit further in. In the face of injustice, she screams and hollers while I tend to be angry and sarcastic. Also, she makes really whiny arguments. Stuff like, “You can’t make me!”
I guess I unconsciously expect some depth to the main character once I’ve gotten a fair ways into the book but Renee was desperately shallow. I am just plain sick and tired of stories where the romance is attempting to pass as strong and everlasting and failing miserably. I mean, dear god, they don’t know anything about each other, though Yvonne Woon does attempt to rectify this by writing a whole paragraph about random things Dante likes. (*epic eye roll*)
Renee completely lacks self-respect. NO self respecting girl would sabotage her own grades (we’re talking A’s, people…in Latin) in order to continue getting tutored with a guy. She’s obviously too cowardly to start hanging out with him like a normal person. She’s also conceited most of the time, completely ignoring her friends’ problems. An example of the first:
Excerpt from hardcover edition, p. 157“They mentioned Eleanor and her brother. I heard that Brandon doesn’t like you, or Gideon. Why?”“I don’t know. Maybe out of a personal distaste? Do you know why people dislike you?”“Who dislikes me?” I said forcefully. I was a nice, considerate person. Why would anyone dislike me?
Also, she doesn’t go after what she wants with any amount of tact. She also gives up WAY too easily (super annoying factor). An example of that:
Excerpt from hardcover edition, p. 157-158“Why do you live off campus?”“I don’t like shared bathrooms.”“Why are your hands so cold?”“Poor circulation.”Sighing, I pushed my hair out of my face and collapsed back in my chair.
What she SHOULD have said was something like, “Stop BS-ing me,” or “Can I have a serious answer?” I mean, this chick obviously has not hung out with guys much.
And THEN, there was the lack of originality in the early interaction between Renee and Dante. Like he cut his thumb. It healed mysteriously fast. She’s all: I know what I saw. And he goes all: You didn’t see anything. You’re imagining things. UGH!
A lot of Dante’s character comes through her narrative and it just comes off as pathetic. I finally just didn’t care anymore. Not about the characters, the world, what was happening. Just…lost interest. The plot didn’t progress quickly enough and the characters had little depth. So. Not a book I’m picking up again.
- pages – hardcover, 480
- published – September 2010
- publisher – Hyperion
- genre – urban fantasy
- received via – library
- got through - 212/480 pages