Review: Die for Me by Amy Plum

Die For Me by Amy Plum (click for Goodreads)

Four stars

MY LIFE HAD ALWAYS BEEN BLISSFULLY, WONDERFULLY NORMAL. BUT IT ONLY TOOK ONE MOMENT TO CHANGE EVERYTHING.

Suddenly , my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.

Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every da. He also has enemies … immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

While I’m fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart–as well as my life and my family’s–in jeopardy for a chance at love?

Right off the bat, I’m going to address the biggest stigma about this book: that it is a zombie version of Twilight. The unfortunate thing is that I can’t describe the plot in simple terms and convince you otherwise. Girl sees guy. Girl is instantly in love with guy. Guy is BASICALLY A STALKER (cue angry rant against stalkerish relationships in books being ‘okay’). Guy basically falls to pieces when they try to avoid each other. They get back together. They instantly consider each other soul mates. CUE THE ENTRANCE OF THE EVIL PEOPLE! Oh, and Guy is totally undead and sexy. Girl is described as “normal.” I have just described the basics behind both Twilight and Die for Me. But you may want to read on, because me–Madam Twilight Hater–has given this books four stars. Why?

Plum does it RIGHT.

Okay, okay, that sounds unbelievable, right? How can ANYONE do that RIGHT? Well, let’s discuss (with spoilers, so lookout!):

The main character, Kate, is NO Bella. When it comes right down to it, she makes her own choices and DOES SOMETHING. When she finds out what Vincent is, she breaks up with him because she isn’t sure she can take watching him die again and again after the death of her parents. When Evil Bad Dude breaks into the house at the end of the book (intentionally being vague, here), she pounces on him and tries to sword fight with him (even though she has no idea how to use a sword at all). Kate is very proactive throughout the book, which makes for a nice change.

The plot, also, keeps moving. THINGS HAPPEN. You’re hoping for a great battle scene at the end of the book, and you GET IT. The mythology here is also different enough to engage me. I’m not a person who likes zombie stories (at all), but I caught onto this book right quick. The ideas behind revenants is really cool, like zombie superheros. There is always something new on every page to learn, or some new ability. Yes, some of them feel contrived to make the plot work, but that’s only once or twice so I passed it off.

The other characters in the book are also really interesting. Even Kate’s party-girl sister, Georgia, comes off without being a tired cliché, but rather a round character. The other revenants are also cool, especially the twins. This book doesn’t feel like Kate/Vincent and the rest. Everyone else has an honest to goodness part to play in the book.

Lastly: Lack of love triangle. Some people may argue no, JULES! But really? Jules is a playboy who enjoys flirting and Kate isn’t into him. It’s innocent and cute.

Okay, yeah, there are SOME things you just can’t do better. For instance, love at first sight. Plum makes an attempt to work it into a real relationship–they go on a DATE, she turns him DOWN, gasp!–but the scene where she first sees Vincent is written like every other cliché love at first sight thing and after that I just can’t forgive. It also gets way too serious, way too fast. I understand that with the circumstances and all, there wasn’t really much else that COULD be done, but it still leaves jaded old me shaking my head.

Overall, though, this book really won me over. I was ready to hate it for its Twilight-ness, but I kept reading and I was glad I did. There’s a real plot here, and real characters. Kate and Vincent turned me to mush pretty quick too. I’m a sucker for adorable couples–and thankfully the stalking thing wasn’t mentioned all that often and only happened once or twice, or I never would have forgave him. Some bits of the plot felt like they were being forced forward, but everything flowed pretty well around them. I will most certainly be checking out the second book, Until I Die, due out May 8th.

Dear YA Authors: I’m getting sick and tired of love triangles!

So, this post has been almost a week in the making, ever since I posted up my review of Jodi Meadows’ Incarnate. I felt almost ridiculous that I had to say I adored this book half because the main character had a real relationship, and not a love triangle. Then, OTHER people started agreeing with me, saying that they had been caught on the book when I made a point of saying that there was no love triangle, but an actual couple who falls in love for real reasons.

Wait, I had to say WHAT?

Okay, cool your jets, I’m fully aware that there are some YA authors who rock this love triangle thing. I also read plenty of love triangles myself. I don’t want to start burning every one of them that includes a love triangle, I just want to ask … why?

It’s probably horrible for me to blame Twilight, but I’m going to blame Twilight just a little bit. Love triangles certainly existed before Twilight, but not in this quantity. After all, love triangles ARE a great way for interaction with fandom. “Team That Guy” and “Team This Guy” competitions can get pretty heated. I’ve been known to engage in one or two myself, and HELLO. I think I ship a couple hard, and then some other person on the internet scares you with their ferocity. So, okay, I get why publishers want to publish it after Twilight‘s success, but the better question is why is it being written?

Okay, I’ve seen it done well when it’s essential to the plot. That I can get. When it’s done well, I don’t even mind it. But I always thought that one of the things that makes YA novels so successful is how well the reader can connect with the protagonist. Perhaps I’m an anomaly, but I have never once in my life had two guys ready to battle to the death over my heart, as seems to be the norm these days in teen lit. Having believed myself to be extremely lucky to find myself ONE guy, female protagonists who spend the entirety of a book (or, worse, multiple books) taking away precious time from the actual plotline to fret over which guy to choose can come off really vain. Also, This Guy and That Guy, if the girl is taking that freaking long to make up her mind which one of you to choose, chances are she’s not really in love with either of you and there are plenty of other fish in the sea who actually might like you. When the love triangle is written to the point where the girl seems ridiculously vapid and the guys feel like doormats, I can’t take the book anymore no matter how good I think the book is.

Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes I think that the real reason I can’t stand love triangles is because I really want to read about a real romance. Sometimes it feels like love triangles are shoehorned in to cause tension in a relationship, and there are so many other ways to do that. People can fall in love for REAL REASONS, not just see each other and be instantly attracted to each other. I understand that a lot of people shortcut that bit because it takes TIME, but when authors do take that time I love them forever and consider the book to be a cut above. It gets even better when these relationships begin to have real issues. Trust me, if there is any level of age where freaking everything has issues, it is the teenage years. There is no way that the only way authors can think to throw in romantic tension is to add another guy to the mix. Love can be REAL, the issues can be REAL and the couples can be REAL.

Let me say, once again, that I do read and will continue to read love triangles. I adore several series where that occurred, and I’m not ashamed to say so. But I AM getting tired of them, just because I miss the real romance of a real couple with real issues. Publishers, teens WILL read that, I promise. Authors, I SWEAR it’s worth the time. Maybe I’m an anomaly, but hey! I can’t be the only girl who doesn’t have two hot guys fawning over her all the time. …right?