Review: Zom-B by Darren Shan

zom-b by darren shanTitle: Zom-B
Author: Darren Shan
Format: Hardcover, 192 pages
Publisher: September 27th 2012 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Publisher, via BEA
Series: Book 1 in the Zom-B series

Summary

Zom-B is a radical new series about a zombie apocalypse, told in the first person by one of its victims. The series combines classic Shan action with a fiendishly twisting plot and hard-hitting and thought-provoking moral questions dealing with racism, abuse of power and more. This is challenging material, which will captivate existing Shan fans and bring in many new ones. As Darren says, “It’s a big, sprawling, vicious tale…a grisly piece of escapism, and a barbed look at the world in which we live. Each book in the series is short, fast-paced and bloody. A high body-count is guaranteed!

My thoughts

Holy unexpected plot twists, Batman! I read an ARC of Zom-B, and the first page of the book is a note from Darren Shan, encouraging reviewers to be very careful not to spoil any surprises when reviewing the book. So, this review probably won’t be as “complete” as others I would write, for that reason. I won’t spoil anything, because that would ruin the entire reading experience.

The main character, B, is tough-as-nails and not afraid to pick a fight to save face. B has to be tough, growing up with an abusive racist for a dad and a mom who takes the abuse without complaint. B tries hard to shield her from the violence, but that usually ends up with them both being beaten. The whole town think it’s a huge joke when the news starts reporting zombie outbreaks in nearby towns, and nobody takes it seriously. All of the students are shocked when the threat turns out not only to be real, but actually shows up at their school.

It took a while for the actual zombie action to start (aside from a little bit in the beginning). There was a lot of backstory about B’s family and friends. We learned how B met them all, how they got their nicknames, how they all get along… It got to be a bit too much for me. I kept thinking, “Let’s get on with the action already!” But once it did, it was fast paced and exciting. The book is short and really zipped along; I read it in only a few hours. There was a lot of chasing and hiding, gore and ickiness and bravery and cowardice.

And now, on to the plot twists: there were 3 that I consider major. The first surprise showed up in the beginning, right when I’d gotten into the groove of the book and thought I knew what to expect. The second zom-b by darren shanwas a shocker and made me stop to consider everything I’d read so far in a new light. And the ending-I did not see that coming! Every time I got comfortable, Darren Shan surprised me. That’s a great thing to be able to say, especially in a genre that sometimes feels like it’s run its course.

The cover is okay and sufficiently creepy; there’s no mistaking it for anything other than a zombie story. I actually prefer the old monotone cover, though. It’s simplicity is a perfect cover for all of the chaos inside the novel itself.

The sum up

Campy, gory and unexpected, this is a fun new take on the zombie genre.

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Review: Taking On the Dead by Annie Walls

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taking on the deadTitle: Taking On the Dead
Author: Annie Walls
Format: Paperback, 312 pages
Publisher: September 27th 2012 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Bookish Brunette Book Tours
Series: Famished Trilogy: Taking On the Dead | Controlling the Dead | Living With the Dead

Summary

Life for Kansas was perfect until the day the world changed.

She has been hiding out for four years in solitude. It’s the only way to survive. The only way not to draw the living dead. Helping a small group of people, she learns the new world might not be what she assumes. Venturing out of her refuge and comfort zone, she meets Rudy, who helps her find a greater purpose. She realizes that the world has moved on without her. Only it’s not what she expects. Her knowledge of the living dead grows and only makes her more curious as humanity continues to hang on by a thread. While on her search for answers she finds comfort in new friendships and love, but her past seems as if it will haunt her forever.

Kansas takes it upon herself to help other survivors, which would be easy if the famished were the only obstacles.

In a trilogy plot thick with twists and turns, this adult dark fantasy is emotional as much as it is horrifyingly gripping.

*Not intended for a young audience. Mature content.*

My thoughts

Wow wow wow. Freaky scary wow.

Kansas was with her boyfriend at a fair when the zombies struck. She survived the initial attack and went home to barricade herself in the bunker her dad had built, in case of the end of times. She has been alone for the past four years, only venturing out to hunt or for the bare necessities. Every once in a while, she practices her bow and arrow skills on the random zombie that comes through her neighborhood. When a trio of survivors shows up needing help, that becomes the start of a new chapter in her life.

Kansas was just about the strongest MC you could hope to have. Not only did she survive the initial zombie attack, but she’d survived ever since then, all on her own. She didn’t need a man to protect her or take care of her. She figured out how to find and cook her own food, how to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer, how to take care of injuries, and how to keep her home safe. The other characters she met throughout her journey were pretty interesting. Some were a real blessing to her and some I would have punched in the face the first chance I got. I think my favorite was the friendly hooker, who had sass and a heart of gold.

When the other characters entered the story, unlike Kansas, I was happy to see them. She was scared to let someone in after being alone for so long, but I didn’t want her to be alone anymore. Throughout the book, I understood when she struggled to know whether she could trust someone or not. I felt the same way, unsure if each person was a good guy or a bad guy. Sometimes it was so hard to tell. And sometimes I guessed wrong. Very wrong.

I think if you were to imagine the world went to shit, and then imagine some of the most horrible things people might do to (and with) each other, you might have some idea of what this book involved. It was like Annie Walls thought of the most depraved things that a human might be capable of, and included them. Poor Kansas kept getting into really unfortunate situations and I felt so badly for her. Most of the time, I just wanted to give her a big hug and assure her that not everybody was like that.

There were a lot of action scenes and tense fights. There was gore galore, some of it pretty descriptive and gross. There were also non-fight scenes that were tense. Annie Walls has a real gift for making nail-biting scenes. I had to stay up late one night just so I could finish the book and find out what the hell was going to happen to Kansas next.

As much as I loved it, there were definitely some things that bugged me about the book. The comma use was crazy: there were commas stuck in all sorts of places they didn’t need to be and left out of the places they really belonged. Seriously, there were so many commas it was distracting. I was left with a lot of questions at the end of the novel, which I hope will be answered in the sequel. I felt some of them should have been answered in this book, though. One of the major setups throughout the book was left unresolved in the end. There was quite a bit of adult content, but nothing overly graphic.

I love the cover, it perfectly evokes the theme of the story inside. And the cover model even has dreads, just like Kansas.

The sum up

Serious and seriously creepy (and not just because of the zombies), this is a must for any zombie fan.

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Review: The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

the infectsTitle: The Infects
Author: Sean Beaudoin
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Publisher: September 25th 2012 by Candlewick
Source: NetGalley

Summary

A feast for the brain, this gory and genuinely hilarious take on zombie culture simultaneously skewers, pays tribute to, and elevates the horror genre.

Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back.

Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read—whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten—and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

My thoughts

Nick is not your average teenage boy. He lives with his younger sister and his checked out father. He has to work at the local chicken slaughterhouse to help pay the bills. He has a heavy burden on his shoulders and takes it well. His father (“the Dude”) is more concerned with free living than taking care of his daughter, who has Aspergers. So Nick does it, without complaint. After a (really gross) accident at the slaughterhouse, which Nick is blamed for, he winds up in the desert on a juvenile delinquent program. One morning he wakes up to find some of the kids and counselors have turned into zombies. Nick and the few surviving teens escape into the woods and have to figure out what happened and how to stop it, all while trying to stay alive.

Nick was an interesting sort of character. He clearly cared for his sister and would do anything for her. He had his grumpy moments, especially when dealing with The Dude, but overall, he was likable. His sister was super quiet and only wanted to play her video games. Every once in a while, she would surprise Nick with her depth of understanding, but mostly she was silent. We learned a bit into the novel why The Dude was the way he was, but it still didn’t make me like him any more. Petal, Nick’s secret crush, was strong and seriously knew how to take care of herself. But she was also harsh, and as far as I could tell, the only think Nick liked about her was the way she looked. There were a few other characters that Nick spent time with (warning: don’t get too attached, because Sean Beaudoin isn’t afraid to kill anyone off), including another strong female, which was a nice addition.

The dialogue was full of teenage boy nonsense (i.e. crude jokes and bad language). The pace was frantic and chaotic, with a lot of things going on, one right after the other. It was a zippy book and easy to get through quickly. It was graphic with the zombies and all the death, so don’t bother if you’re squeamish. As a vegetarian, I was especially icked out by the slaughterhouse scenes. Nothing subtle going on in there. The Infects had a small element of the paranormal, which I didn’t think fit in the story very well and was altogether unnecessary.

There were a few important questions that remained unanswered. I probably would have enjoyed the book more if I had felt that everything came to a nice close. Also, I’m still not sure how Nick ended up at Inward Trek. I don’t even think he knew either. He had an accident on a machine at work and he passed out. Next thing we know, he’s on a bus to juvie. Nobody thinks this is an awful harsh punishment for an accident? He doesn’t try to explain what happened to anybody? Why did everyone at Inward Trek have to have a nickname? I didn’t understand that. The ending was interesting and entertaining, but certainly not a super twist worth writing home about.

The cover, while not especially unique, is fun. Clearly this is a zombie book. I also love the little clue hidden right in plain sight.

The sum up

Your average zombie book with a few unique twists. If zombies are your thing, give it a go. Otherwise, it’s okay to skip.

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Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick {Audio Review}

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick {Audio Review}Title: Ashes
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Series: Ashes #1
Publisher: Audible, Inc. on September 6, 2011
Format: Audiobook, 11 hrs and 6 mins
Source: Purchased
4 Stars
Summary

It could happen tomorrow . . .

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.

My thoughts

Alex had a brain tumor (which she called ‘the monster’) and knew she didn’t have a lot of time left, so she headed up to a special place in the mountains to say goodbye to her parents and dispose of their ashes. While there, she ran into a young girl and the girl’s grandfather. After an unexplained “attack” left Alex able to smell (something the tumor had taken away) and Ellie’s grandfather dead, they struck out on their own to find out what happened.

I really liked Alex. She was a strong protagonist, not your basic clichéd damsel-in-distress. She didn’t need, or want, anyone to take care of her, she’d been doing just fine on her own ever since her parents died. Good grief, Ellie was annoying. She was a child, yes, but her complaining and whining seemed far too young for someone her age. Tom, whom the two ended up running into and sticking with, was another strong character. He had some secrets and wasn’t upfront about his reasons for being on the mountain, but immediately was willing to do whatever he could to protect Alex and Ellie. If I were ever in a zombie apocalypse, I would want him on my side. (As an aside, if the zombie apocalypse were to actually take place, I would hightail it over to Ashley’s house first.)

We met more characters as the trio journeyed to seek answers and some of those characters were more developed than others, though I found one or two to be on the clichéd side. Especially at the end, some were downright regressive in their thinking and they pissed me off.

There was an element of mystery in Ashes, not only in what exactly the attack was and how it happened, but why did it bring back Alex’s olfactory sense, and why did it give her the ability to smell other things, like lies and personalities?

I didn’t like the second half of the novel, as the world learned to move on and survive, as much as I did the first, but it was still enjoyable. There was a change in the novel’s setting and I missed Tom (and yes, even the ultra-annoying Ellie) and thought the story was better when the three of them were together.

The audio was a trainwreck. I don’t know if that’s how Katherine Kellgran narrates all of her books, but I will be avoiding anything narrated by her at all costs in the future. In the beginning, she made Ellie into a LOUD whiny brat. I don’t think she would have been that annoying as a character without Katherine’s narration. She screamed the exciting parts and I ended up turning my volume down several times.

The cover is creepy, and gives a hint at what the book may be about (electromagnetic waves?). Though I don’t like it as a general book cover, it fits the novel perfectly.

The sum up

Taut and exciting. Avoid the audio version at all costs.

About the author

ilsa j. bickAmong other things, I was an English major in college and so I know that I’m supposed to write things like, “Ilsa J. Bick is .” Except I hate writing about myself in the third person like I’m not in the room. Helloooo, I’m right here . . . So let’s just say that I’m a child psychiatrist (yeah, you read that right)as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe (meaning I did an internship in surgery and LOVED it and maybe shoulda stuck), former Air Force major—and an award-winning, best-selling author of short stories, e-books, and novels. Believe me, no one is more shocked about this than I . . . unless you talk to my mother.

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Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

9859436-1Title: Something Strange and Deadly
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: July 24th 2012 by HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Source: Edelweiss
Series: Something Strange and Deadly | A Darkness Strange and Lovely
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Goodreads Summary

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

My thoughts

There is definitely something both strange and deadly going on in Philly. Dead bodies are rising from their graves and eating anybody that gets in their way. But who is causing them to rise, and why? Why is the necromancer holding her brother captive?

Eleanor lives with her mother and servants in an aging mansion. They are trying hard to hold onto their status as rich ladies, though everyone knows they’ve been struggling ever since the death of Eleanor’s father years ago. Her mom is desperate to marry her off to a rich man, which will cement their standing in Philadelphia’s social circles again. But Eleanor doesn’t want to marry someone just because he’s rich. She just wants her brother to come home. But when a corpse brings her a note from her brother, she becomes convinced the same necromancer that has reanimated the dead bodies is holding her brother captive for the top-secret research he was working on. Her mother is more interested in helping her marry, so Eleanor turns to the Spirit-Hunters, who have recently come to town to help stop the rising dead.

I liked Eleanor’s spunkiness and her ability to go out and get things done. She bucked some social expectations and did what she felt was necessary at the time, especially when it came to her brother Elijah. He was a hard character to like because we never got to know him before he disappeared. We were just told that Eleanor loved him and wanted to save him. I didn’t understand Daniel as a love interest; he was so caught up in his job and working for Joseph that I didn’t think Eleanor really had a chance to get to know him and develop feelings for him. I did like Joseph, though. He was completely focused on his work and trying to save innocent people from being killed by the dead, but he always had time for a kind word to Eleanor, or to comfort her when she was scared. Her mother just pissed me off, with her all-consuming obsession with marrying Eleanor off to the first rich man who walked by.

The plot was interesting overall, though the novel suffered from a lack of action. “The dead” scenes were exciting, but there weren’t as many of them as I would have liked. In between, there was a lot of bustle holding and carriage sitting. I quickly tired of the historical references (corsets, walking gowns, chaperones, parasols, etc.) and Eleanor’s constant mention of her lack of money. Even with all my personal dislikes, it’s easy to recognize that the world-building is impressive, especially for a début author.

The cover is very pretty and the dress theme is certainly on trend, but the bare shoulders don’t seem to fit in with the time period and the trends described inside the novel. I really like the creepy background and spindly tree.

The sum up

This is truly one of those cases where I believe there is nothing wrong with the book, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Fans of steampunk or historical novels, especially those with zombies, will definitely like Something Strange and Deadly.

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Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre Audiobook

enclave by ann aguirreTitle: Enclave
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Macmillan Audio, April 12th 2011
Format: Audio CD, 6 discs
Narrator: Emily Bauer
Series: 1st in the Razorland series
Source: won from Book Love 101
Goodreads summary

WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE

In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups-Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember. As a Huntress, her purpose is clear–to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning. Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first she thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace. As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known. 

My thoughts: Another take on the zombie genre? Yes, please. Enclave takes place underground, after humans have retreated from the surface generations ago. They have separated into clans and live in enclaves that are joined by miles-long subway tunnels. They grow vegetables, fruits and grains but must hunt for rabbits, rats and other animals for their meat. But animals aren’t the only things in the dark tunnels – they must also watch out for the Freaks, flesh-eating people who roam around looking for a slow human to munch on. Deuce is perfectly happy in her role as Huntress, which she has trained for forever, until her new partner, Fade, comes into the picture. He came from outside the enclave and has stories that don’t seem real and doesn’t like to follow the rules like everyone else.

And that’s where the story really started to pick up. During a hunting trip, Deuce and Fade discover maybe the Freaks aren’t as stupid as everyone thinks. But the elders of her enclave refuse to listen and the two of them end up on a journey Deuce doesn’t want to take. (I totally could have written the blurb for this one, right?)

The characters were great, all very well-developed. Deuce was just about the strongest female protagonist you could want. She didn’t want to be a Breeder or a Builder, she only wanted to be a Huntress. She had trained for years and wouldn’t let anyone tell her she couldn’t do it. Even after she was officially a Huntress, she didn’t forget her friends or the younger kids, she was still patient and kind with them. Her 2 best friends, Thimble and Stone, were also strong characters. Stone was a breeder and Thimble was a Builder, so we learned a little about their jobs and daily lives. Fade was different from others in the enclave as he wasn’t raised to be non-touchy-feely, as the other Hunters were. He was more comfortable with expressing emotion than Deuce and that made for a few interesting scenes. There were new characters introduced as Deuce and the others ended up above ground, and they had different personalities than Deuce was used to, including 1 who was a real jerk and completely inappropriate as a love interest. I couldn’t understand exactly what Deuce saw in him and was pissed that his appearance created a love triangle.

The dialogue was different, there were many made-up names that took some getting used to, starting with their names. Deuce? As in Number 2? As in what people do in the bathroom? Fade, Twist and Copper? In addition to the proper names, there was a whole lexicon to get used to. It was somewhat jarring at first, as I learned all the names, but eventually, I was able to listen to it without having to wonder what a word meant. The flow of the book really worked for me as well. There was a lot of action and some very tense moments and quite a bit of gore.

The narration was okay. I liked Emily Bauer’s voice fine, but she had a tendency to get really breathy when she was reading the action scenes, like she couldn’t get her breath, or was trying to sound sexy. It was annoying. The cover is a generic steel grate with 2 swords crossing. It does fit the story, but it’s kind of generic looking.

The sum up: Scary and intense, this is a great option for zombie fans. Think about skipping the audio version, though.

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The Weepers: The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker

The Weepers: The Other Life, U.S. CoverTitle: The Weepers: The Other Life
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: February 1st 2012 by Usborne
Series: Book 1 in The Other Life series
Source: NetGalley

Summary

3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world.

Sherry has lived with her family in a sealed bunker since things went wrong up above. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find a world of devastation, desolation…and the Weepers: savage, mutant killers. When Sherry’s dad is snatched, she joins forces with gorgeous but troubled Joshua – an Avenger, determined to destroy the Weepers.

But can Sherry keep her family and Joshua safe, when his desire for vengeance threatens them all?

My thoughts

The Other Life puts a new spin on the zombie genre. A new strain of rabies was spreading fast when everyone was told to take cover in shelters. And that’s where Sherry and her family have stayed for years until the day they ran out of food. On a trip to find more, Sherry’s dad is grabbed but she is saved by Joshua. Soon, it’s time for them to go on a hunt to rescue her dad from the Weepers and her family from their bunker.

The Weepers (named for their milky eye discharge, yuck) were not like regular zombies. Sometimes they ran on all fours, sometimes they walked upright. They were intelligent and fast. The descriptions of the broken city, the Weepers and other dead things were graphic and gross. My stomach flopped a few times from the vivid depictions. Heads up: don’t read this one while eating. Trust me.

The story started strong and kept up the pace for the entire novel. There was a lot of action and suspense and I was so interested in finding out what happened next that I finished it within 2 days. All of the characters had real personalities, and I especially liked Sherry. She was only 15, but practically an adult after living in the bunker for years. She was strong and opinionated and wasn’t afraid to put herself in harm’s way for her family. Joshua was another likable character, although we didn’t learn as much about him as I would have liked. That was true of some of the other characters as well. A ragtag group of survivors had banded together and we didn’t learn the back story of most of them. Maybe that will be covered more in the next book?

The one thing that did bother me was the lack of smooth transition from one sentence to the next. Maybe that was simply Winnacker’s writingThe Other Life, U.K. Cover style, but it was almost like it lacked segues. The dialogue was standard fare, not too fancy or full of slang. In fact, Joshua and his group were more of the strong and silent type. There was a tiny bit of romance and it was new and sweet, nothing graphic. There was a great twist near the end that I did not see coming. Not only did it surprise, but it set up the plot for the next novel, which I will most certainly be picking up.

I like both the UK and US versions of the cover, but I think I like the UK one better. I’m a sucker for black and white with a splash of red (Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Rival, etc.).

The sum up

A fantastic debut novel that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go.

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Review: Die For Me by Amy Plum

die for me by amy plumTitle: Die for Me
Author: Amy Plum
Publisher: May 10th 2011 by HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover, 341 pages
Series: Book 1 in the Revenants Trilogy
Source: purchased

Summary

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life–and memories–behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant–an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

My thoughts

To be honest, I had no idea what the book was about, but I heard all of the fanfare for the second book in the series, and I wanted to give it a try. The plot wasn’t especially unique in young adult literature today (girl destined to be with boy, obstacles abound), but I liked how this one was handled.

I liked all of the characters, especially Kate. She was a strong person who’d recently lost her parents. She was still struggling with being an orphan, but she had her sister to commiserate with. I thought it was interesting to see how the sisters dealt with their grief so differently: Georgia went out and distracted herself with boys and parties, while Kate’s solution was to occupy her mind with school and art. But they were there for, and supported, each other. I especially liked Kate’s decision to not have a relationship with Vincent, once she realized how his being a revenant might bother her so soon after the death of her parents. It was a wise and atypical teenage thing to do.

Their grandparents, whom they lived with in Paris, weren’t around very much, so we didn’t learn a lot about them. They seemed nice enough, just showing up every once in a while for an understanding pep talk or an encouraging suggestion. Clearly, they were taking the lax approach to parenting. Vincent was a very sweet guy. We learned about his background and how he ended up where he was. He was a classic swoon-worthy hero. At first, I kind of rolled me eyes and chuckled at the swooniness of it, but finally, I just accepted it for what it was, and I really ended up enjoying the romance aspect of the story. These were two people who had a connection and wanted to make it work. There was no insta-love (though there was insta-attraction!). Just good old-fashioned interest and talking and getting to know each other.

This was my first introduction to revenants and I was quite pleased. I’ve seen some compare them to zombies, but I didn’t see that at all. The revenants died sometime in the past, and for reasons unknown, they came back to life. Now, compulsion drives them to sacrifice themselves to save strangers. Even if they don’t die during these rescues, they still have a 3 day period every month (kind of like PMS from hell) where they appear dead, though they can “haunt” other revenants with their spirit. There are also evil revenants who like to kill people. Basically, Kate has to decide if she can fall in love with Vincent and watch him die over and over, or if that would be too hard for her, given that her own parents had recently died.

The dialogue was peppered with the occasional French phrase but it wasn’t hard to understand what they were saying. Otherwise, everyone was very straight-shooting and I liked that. I enjoyed the way one of the other revenants flirted with Katie, the innocently sweet way he did it and always managed to make her blush.

There were plenty of swoon-worthy moments. Vincent was basically every girl’s dream boyfriend. He was kind and sweet and hot and once his revenant occupation became a problem, he did what he could to make it easier on Katie. When they were apart, he was just as torn up as she was. He said all the right things and was protective of her. No wonder she fell for him!

I’m a big fan of this cover. Of course, it doesn’t have anything to do with the story (though it does feature a Parisian landmark), but it’s very pretty.

The sum up

A classic young adult love story with a few twists.

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Other opinions

Just a Lil’ Lost
The Book Bind
Book Chic Club
Coffee Table Reviews

Check out my review of Book 2, Until I Die.