Die for Me
by Amy Plum
Kate Mercier moves to Paris to live with her grandparents following the death of her mother and father. One day, she meets a beautiful boy named Vincent in a cafe and finds herself incredibly attracted to him. But just as she begins to think that there’s a future ahead for them, she discovers that Vincent is hiding a dangerous secret that will affect anyone he gets close to.
What I liked about the book:
(some spoilers ahead, though it’s information that is revealed fairly early in the story)
* The paranormal set-up is a fairly original/unusual one. Vincent and his friends are revenants, undead guardians who help to save humans from potential danger. Their enemies are numas, who are undead evil-doers who try their best to lure humans to their deaths through various different methods.
* I rather enjoyed the novelty of having a YA book set in Paris, which is probably one of the book’s key selling points. The details of the setting aren’t particularly exceptional, but it’s a nice change from reading about teens in America.
* With any immortal/human relationship, the inevitable question of “what happens when…” arises–and in this case it’s a particularly difficult one. Vincent actively chooses his lifestyle and to “reanimate” again and again in order to help others, and Kate doesn’t think she can live with someone who constantly puts himself in danger. I liked the solution that Vincent offers to Kate so that she can be with him, and it’s probably the moment with the most genuine emotion in the book.
What I wish were different:
* The writing seems strangely formal or mannered. Kate and Vincent have a very awkward first meeting and most of their conversations are very stilted, though they’re supposed to be cute or romantic.
* The relationship is set up to be almost the be-all and end-all for Kate. She’s already (inexplicably) cut off all communication with her previous life and has no friends other than her sister, and there’s very little adult presence in the story. In life and in literature, girls should have lives of their own outside of their love interests, and a great deal of Kate’s time is spent pondering what’s going on with Vincent or agonizing over their relationship. There’s also not a lot of depth of emotion in this book. All the trappings of romance are there, but they’re over the top romantic fantasies that don’t seem real at all, but straight out of some sort of chick flick. (Pivotal date towards the end: boy shows up in a tuxedo looking like a “movie star,” has pre-ordered a custom dress for her from a “chichi” boutique, and takes her out on a rowboat to see the Eiffel Tower from the water. He then gives her several more gifts to unwrap, including a purse to match the dress, seasons tickets to the opera in their own private box, and fencing lessons. All that’s missing is a strolling violinist and a guy selling roses.)
* The plot is pretty simplistic, and the story would have much more tension and drama if we ever really got to care about any of the victims. The villain is also far too easy to spot! Authors, I beg of you, stay away from names that are even remotely close to those in traditional mythology unless you’re writing for a grade school audience.
* Above all, I just didn’t get a sense of who Kate really is, or why these two are attracted to one another. She reads two books in a cafe, but as soon as she meets Vincent on page 25, there’s no other clue as to what this girl is interested in or cares about. The only big scene where Kate shows initiative and takes action towards the end occurs because she is literally no longer in control of her own body.
Overall, this book had a very original and promising premise (and a gorgeous cover!), but sadly just didn’t live up to its potential.
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars.
30-second summary: Contains original paranormal mythology involving the French undead, but is sadly lacking in a strong, unique heroine or a truly convincing or healthy relationship.