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Jonas: Beautiful Dead Book One    by Eden Maguire order for
by Eden Maguire
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks, 2010 (2010)
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Zombies have been on the rise in YA paranormal romances for a few years now, but Eden Maguire's take on them is a total departure from the typical rotting, brain-eating, reanimated dead. The zombies of her Beautiful Dead quartet are back on Earth for a purpose and look and feel amazingly lifelike as they work to fulfill that purpose.

Two days after her boyfriend's death, Darina still has not calmed down. They may not have been dating long, but she loved Phoenix. Trying to escape her feelings, Darina drives out of the small town of Ellerton to the even smaller town of Foxton, where she wanders the woods. Much to her surprise, she finds an abandoned homestead that no one seemed to know existed. Even more startling is who she sees in the barn Phoenix, surrounded by three other Ellerton high students that have died in the last year as well as a few other people.

Despite the beating of wings she hears, accompanied by flying deathheads, Darina is determined to be with Phoenix again. She returns to see him and learns that he is one of the Beautiful Dead, a group of recently deceased who are pulled out of limbo to seek justice for their deaths. Each person has exactly one year to set their death right. Time is running out for Jonas, the first of the four students to die, and Hunter, the leader of the Beautiful Dead, agrees that Darina can know their secret if she promises to help Jonas discover what happened the night he crashed his Harley, instantly killing himself and leaving his girlfriend, Zoey, paralyzed.

The first book of the Beautiful Dead, Jonas, is a fast-paced thrill ride as Darina races to uncover the truth of the accident in only ten days. This being the first in the series, the first few chapters are filled with exposition although Maguire does jump straight into the story without any preamble. But once Darina is given her assignment, the action never stops, whether it be protecting the Beautiful Dead, following the clues that led up to Jonas's crash, or just dealing with the ups and downs of high school life.

Aside from creating a wonderful start to a new paranormal quartet, Maguire has also captured the horrors of high school life in such a way that it melds perfectly with the story, making the reader unaware that it is there until the end. Jonas was an amazing read, and I can only imagine that the only direction Eden Maguire will go is up as she continues the stories of the Beautiful Dead.

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