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  Even if I wanted to die for someone, it wouldn't be so easy. They just keep dying for me.

Written by Francesca Lia Block, author of the Weetzie Bat series. Charlotte Emerson is a 100-year-old vampire, living alone in a luxurious L.A. mansion and grieving the death of Emily, her best and only friend, who allegedly killed herself. Ever since that night, much to her confusion, Charlotte has been experiencing symptoms of humanity - sweat, broken nails, an end to her craving for blood. Also, she feels powerfully drawn to Jared, Emily's boyfriend, who appears to feel the same way despite, or perhaps because of, his grief. When William Stone Eliot, Charlotte's sire, comes back to town with a plan involving all three of them, dark secrets will be revealed and love tested to its limits.

Tropes used in Pretty Dead include:
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Jared to Charlotte, after finding out he's been falling in love with his girlfriend's killer. No wonder.
  • Black Sheep: Jared, who was adopted but not treated very well by his family.
  • Comforting the Widow: Charlotte and Jared fall in love while bonding over their loss of Emily.
  • Costume Porn: Charlotte keeps track of her long undead existence mostly by the fashions.
  • Dead Little Sister: Charlotte's dead twin brother, Charles.
  • Dirty Mind Reading: While watching over Jared after Emily's death, Charlotte gets a vision from his mind of him touching Emily's breasts (though she's more pitying than embarrassed).
  • Distressed Dude: Charlotte saves Jared from being blown up by William's bomb.
  • Face Heel Turn: Charlotte, thanks to Emily and Jared.
  • Freudian Excuse: William's mother's death is referred to as the reason he became first insane, then a vampire.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Charlotte switches to drinking cows' blood after leaving William.
  • Gray and Gray Morality
  • Heel Face Turn: Emily.
  • Hair of Gold: Charlotte, who notes wryly that the blond hair allele may actually be going extinct.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Charles, who was identical to her except for having black hair.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Charlotte rebelled against William and left after watching 9/11 and the pleasure he took from it - the last straw after watching him attract one disaster after another for 90-odd years.
  • I Love You, Vampire Son: William's initial reason for turning her and later Emily.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: The whole book turns out to be Charlotte's attempt to tell her story to Jared, in the hope that he will forgive her for nearly killing Emily.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Charlotte, who collects antique clothes and artwork to fill up her empty house. In the end, she gets tired enough to sell it all, move into a small apartment in New York, and get a job (as a makeup salesgirl) for the first time in her life.
  • Meadow Run: Charlotte and Charles, in a flashback.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: After weeks of suppressing her jealousy of Emily (for her mortality and Jared) and thirsting for her blood, Charlotte loses control, bites her, and runs away. William, who's been spying on them all along, turns Emily into a vampire. Charlotte, whether due to getting "drunk" on the blood or through active denial, does not remember until the climax of the book.
    • William plans to kill Jared instead of turning him, because he has "no intention" of sharing Emily.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Charlotte, realizing what she's done to Emily.
  • Rape as Backstory: Emily, by her mother's boyfriend.
  • Stalker with a Crush: William. Charlotte acts a bit like this too, but she excuses it as making sure Jared hasn't followed Emily into suicide.
  • Tragic Mulatto: Jared is "embarrassed" by being part Asian in a family of white blondes.
  • Twin Telepathy: Charles and Charlotte. Later she discovers that it works with anyone she really loves, especially as she starts reverting back to humanity, making her The Empath.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Emily and Jared do. Charlotte, with a century of decadent loneliness behind her, does her utmost to talk them out of it. Unsuccessfully in Emily's case.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Charlotte and Emily are best friends, but envy each other fiercely all the same.
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