Die For Me
By Amy Plum
Ages 14 and up
While reading the first 150 pages or so of DIE FOR ME, I felt that I would likely have to put on a poncho and acquire an umbrella to have on hand for when people read my review of the book. All in anticipation of the possibility of tomatoes being thrown my way. But then, I reached the midpoint of the book and decided that those items would no longer be necessary. While not without its faults, and its apparent similarities to a certain book about a sullen girl who falls in love with an immortal hottie, I actually found myself ENJOYING Amy plum’s debut novel. To the point that I eagerly anticipate her second book in the trilogy, UNTIL I DIE.
Die For Me starts off on a pretty depressing note. Kate Mercier and her sister Georgia are moving to Paris; not by choice, but as a result of the recent untimely death of their parents. In the City of Lights, Kate spends most of her days alone, mourning the loss of her parents in the local museums and coffee shops, while Georgia eases her woes with endless partying. Kate spends much of the first part of the book doing nothing but mourning, until she catches the eye of a certain mysterious (and HOT) young man. Then she spends the next handful of chapters doing nothing but watching him and falling in love with the mysterious stranger. THEN they meet and further develop their love. You’re left waiting for something to happen other than discovering who and what Vincent is, which doesn’t even happen until 100-150 pages or so into the book. And THEN things start getting complicated, motives of certain characters are revealed and the story gets really GOOD. Really, it’s worth reading Die For Me and dealing with the “watching and waiting”, even if just for the final 100 pages of the story.
One of the biggest pit falls of Die For Me is the amount of time spent with Kate and Vincent just “watching” each other. Kate herself is a fairly well-developed character. Her background is established in the beginning, she has thoughts and emotions that are realistic of a person who just lost her parents. Even her sister Georgia and her reactions to their parent’s deaths are realistic. Unfortunately, Kate becomes a bit stale as a character during the time spent watching Vincent and then subsequently trying to stay away from him once she finds out who (and what) he is. Also, at times she does things simply because she feels she “should” but then she turns around and changes her mind within the blink of an eye. I guess this is the realistic nature of a teenager, but her actions and decisions had my eyes (and my head) rolling at times.
Then there’s Vincent. He’s hot and he’s “immortal”, he has wicked hair and an “old soul”. Sound familiar? Lucky for him, he’s also funny, laid back and not a total prude. Whew! Vincent also has a “family” that feels somewhat familiar, with a “creator” who is also a father figure of sorts… Hmm. But all these striking similarities are forgiven when the story is taken in a direction that separates the supporting characters from their “other” immortal counterparts.
I did laugh at the numerous “stalker” references throughout the book, though, and the occasional apparent jab at a certain other immortal stalker. At times I almost felt that maybe mockery was intended to a certain extent when it came to the characters in this book. Who knows!
Paris, The City of Lights. Amy Plum knows her setting, she loves her setting, heck, she recently moved to her setting! She does a very nice job of taking us up and down the streets of Sweet Pari, into the cafes and galleries that are scattered throughout the town. The sights and sounds, you will be pulled right into them along with Kate. Even Vincent’s home receives much attention in the story. I commend Amy in being able to create a scene and set us right into it. Much like the cover of the book, her setting is enthralling.
This is the part where I thought that a poncho and umbrella would come in handy. Oh, Amy, if only you could have condensed the first 150 pages into half that many! Your story would have improved greatly, and the early pacing should have been more in line with the later events of the story. I grew tired just “watching and waiting” with Kate. I wanted to bop her over the head with the book when so much time was spend mulling over this boy that she didn’t even know. At one point I almost put the book down. But then suddenly, with all the silly melodrama put behind, things FINALLY got interesting and I decided to keep reading. AND I’M GLAD I DID! If not for the later half of the book, Die For Me could very well have been a DNF on my shelves, and I would have missed out on what eventually turned into a very engrossing and promising story. (But the first half of the book… Oi…)
Amy is a commendable writer. Her prose and descriptions of her world reveal that she has great potential. But there are two departments where I had issues: First was Kate’s grandparents and their apparent disregard for the well-being of their grandchildren (Really? Letting a teenager party every night? A sleepover at a boy’s house just so the child can “live the life”? Ugh, as a mom myself, that’s disturbing.) And second, the occasional wooden dialogue. At times, when I think the moment was supposed to be serious, instead I found myself laughing because of things the characters would say. These moments came in spurts, but they were a bit distracting when they did happen.
But then again, this is a debut and, as is the case with most debut authors, one would hope that skill will improve with each release. Plus, what with all of the “watching and waiting” behind us, I have a feeling that great things are in store in UNTIL I DIE. I will definitely be reading it to see if I’m right.