Die For Me by Amy Plum
May 10, 2011; HarperTeen
*I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review
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 day. 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? (courtesy of Goodreads)
There are a million and one paranormal romances out there. What makes a particular book stand out from the crowded genre of overdone supernatural creatures and trite romances? I don't think there is one answer for this. I think it depends upon what each reader looks for in a book. What I do know is that Die For Me has now leaped to the top of my list of post-Twilight paranormal romances (excepting epic books like Vampire Academy and The Mortal Instruments). If you could write out a formula for what I look for in a paranormal romance book, Die For Me would be sitting next to the equal symbol.
What exactly does Die For Me have going for it?
1. Setting: Oooh...Paris. I've only spent 3 days in Paris, but I definitely want to spend more. The Paris in Die For Me is both mysterious and romantic. You have peaceful cafes (as long as nothing is falling from the sky), parks, the Seine, ornate architecture, dark clubs, dangerous catacombs - the contradiction of dark and light that is Paris.
2. Writing: I like books that are well-written. No surprise there. Who would say anything otherwise? As nice as it is to read books of literary quality, for paranormal romance, I'm looking for a balance. I like books that have richly described settings, characters, and mythology backgrounds, but the descriptions of which don't drag the book down. Die For Me does this perfectly. I got a strong impression of Kate and Vincent's world, but the writing was smooth and easy to read. I could lose myself in the plot instead of focusing on the intricacies of the prose.
3. Pacing: This is a subset of writing, but I thought it merited its own discussion. So often paranormals take forever to get going and then have heart-stopping action that has you flipping pages to get to the end. This isn't a bad thing, but often it feels like a chore. Like having to lick a Tootsie Pop a million times until you finally get to the candy. Die For Me had great pacing. It took awhile for the paranormal element to unfold, but the beginning plot and character development were interesting enough that I never felt like I was trudging through the novel. It got very tense toward the end, but wasn't such a page-turner that I wasn't able to slow down and enjoy myself. Well done.
4. Paranormal Element: There are only so many supernatural creatures to choose from if you're going to stick to traditional legends. Vampires, werewolves, demons, fairies, angels, shape-shifters, ghosts, zombies. Die For Me borrows from traditional paranormal elements, but manages to be unique. Revenants are not ghosts nor are they zombies. They are creatures who are immortal yet die and die again. I've never read anything like it. So refreshing to read something new.
5. Romance: Die For Me does have the other-worldly romance that I often dislike in YA novels. They don't fall instantly in love, but there is an immediate connection. I still fell in love with Kate and Vincent romance. The book occurs over a long enough time span that they actually have time to go on a few dates before being ready to die for each other. Vincent is such a good guy. A mixture of reserve, bravery, kindness, intelligence, and passion that fits my formula for a romantic hero. And good looks of course.
6. Supporting Characters: This is the big one for me. It's what really made Die For Me shine. The story isn't just about Kate and Vincent. There are numerous supporting characters all of whom have well-described, distinct personalities and play important roles in the story. Vincent's fellow revenants are not blood relatives, but they are a family for all intents and purposes. I loved funny Ambrose, boastful Jules, Alice Cullen-like Charlotte, nervous Gaspard, prickly Charles, patriarch Jean-Baptiste, and motherly Jeanne. I felt like a book could easily be written about each character. Much like the Cullens. Of course, you also have Kate's family: Georgia, Mamie, and Papy, but the revenant family was the what I most enjoyed.
Die For Me is not a perfect book. You could argue the romance is nothing new (although I liked it). I also thought it was odd that Kate was grieving her parents' deaths at the beginning of the book, but that theme practically disappeared as the book went on. Some have argued that it is too Twilight-ish. No book is flawless (and the common elements with Twilight are one of the main things I like about it). Die For Me had everything I want in a paranormal and for that reason, I can't recommend it enough.
Rating: 5 / 5