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Book Review: Die for Me by Amy Plum

die for me amy plum Book Review: Die for Me by Amy Plum

I have to admit that the title of Amy Plums debut was enough for me to shuffle it to the bottom of my ridiculously long to-read pile. Its not, certainly, a title that fills the reader with hope about whats to come, and I had some concerns that Die For Me'would retrace the highly problematic relationship ground touched on by Twilight.'But while Plum does give us the requisite sacrifice-oneself-for-love scene, and the love interest gets a tad too possessive for my liking, for the most part this novel stands head and shoulders above the morass of romantic martyrdom weve been tormented with on so regular a basis of late. Yes, its somewhat formulaic, but Plums writing and plotting is strong enough that this is a solid read all around.

Struggling to deal with their parents sudden death, Kate Mercier and her sister Georgia are sent to live with their grandparents in Paris. While Georgia manages her grief by hitting the town and getting involved with all sorts of questionable types, introvert Kate spends her days reading and reflecting. Until she happens across a striking young man who rather quickly diverts her attention. But though there are some fire hazard-worthy sparks between Kate and her new beau Vincent, Plum doesnt go the who catharsis-and-redemption-through-love route. Rather, in the initial stage of the book Kate continues to grieve, but draws on the support of Vincent rather than simply losing herself in the relationship (although this does change somewhat as the book progresses).

But relationships are never a cakewalk, and Kate soon finds that pursuing her feelings for Vincent is going to be even tougher than first anticipated. Vincent, though fortunately not a sparkly vampire, is quite firmly in the undead camp. Hes what he describes as a revenant, a resurrected dead dude who spends his days rescuing others from deadly situations by putting himself, rather gorily, in their shoes. Its all heroic enough, but admittedly its perhaps not the kind of hobby youd wholeheartedly condone for your young lover (and I thought World of Warcraft was bad enough)

Plum does introduce a whole bad revenants vs good revenants thing, but this, rather refreshingly, takes a backseat to the challenges inherent in the relationship between Kate and Vincent, although I suspect that it may be brought to the forefront of things in the sequel(s). And the time both Kate and Vincent spend addressing the issues they will have to deal with should they pursue the relationship makes for some rather moving reading indeed. While Vincents age resets each time he dies, Kate only has cosmetics and hair dye to ward off old age (a scenario that brings to mind the quixotic situation in Let the Right One In'by John Ajvide Lindqvist). Kate reflects on this situation when she sees another couple in similar circumstances: a youthful woman married to a partner who is over 80 years old. Of course, the fact that Vincent, though physically 19, has close to a centurys life experience to his name adds some further complications to the whole scenario.

But its not only the vast differences in age and physicality that will become an issue over the years. Vincents regular deathsand his belief that it is his responsibility to die so that another might liveis something that Kate rightfully finds difficult to stomach, particularly given the recent loss of her parents. I appreciate the fact that Plum allocates such substantial page space to these issues rather than simply glossing over them with the whole love is all idea, because, really, love is hard enough even when your partner isnt a serially suicidal zombie guy.

But there are some issues with this book that do grate somewhat, particularly towards the end of the novel. The relationship between Kate and Vincent becomes rather creepily close (though of course churchily abstinent), with Kate deciding that spending her days near her boyfriends temporarily dead body is a fun thing to do (goodness, putting up with my sleeping fiances snores is challenging enough for me). Theres also a scene in which Vincent effectively possesses Kate, and while the author backpedals enough to point out that Kate remains somewhat in control of her faculties, I find this notion of love being all-encompassing to the degree that two people effectively become one a little disconcerting. 'This possession scene is made all the more awful by the fact that Kate willingly puts her life in the balance in order to protect Vincent but, of course, is saved by the heroic (read: invasive) actions of her lover.

This notion that sacrificing ones life in the name of true love is becoming horribly prevalent in YA literature, and though I suspect most teens are generally disinclined to martyr themselves so totally in the name of romance, Im very uncomfortable with how normalised this idea is becoming. Furthermore, while Vincent is generally a pleasant enough chap, he does get his stalker on a little too regularly for my liking, and this coupled with Kates constant reflecting on how he is far too good for her introduces a power imbalance that I cant help but find distasteful. And while I know the author has only 300 or so pages to work with, I just wish that the romance side of things would slow down just a tad. Theres nothing wrong with getting to know each other before declaring ones undying love (or, given the subject matter of this book, ones dying love?).

Finally, an area in which I struggled to maintain my suspension of disbelief was that regarding Kates relationship with her grandparents. Goodness, these two are so negligent that they should be under investigation by the DHS. Kate and her sister, both of whom are in their mid-teens, are warmly encouraged to head out clubbing and partying every night of the week, and scarcely an eyebrow is raised when Kate decides that a sleepover at Vincents is in order, or when Kate and Georgia come home severely wounded. Had the characterisation been strong enough here, I would have been able to accept this lax guardianship, but as it is it simply feels as though the grandparents are forced additions who act purely as the plot requires. The same issues apply to Jeanne, the housekeeper who is effectively a mother figure for Vincent: shes utterly delighted to have Kate around from the get-go, and encourages the two to spend as much time together as possible despite the risk it poses to each of them.

Still, these flaws aside, Die for Me'is highly readable, with zippy pacing, an intriguing take on the undead, and a beautifully rendered setting in its favour. The relationships in this novel do give me pause, but Plum does spend enough time on Kates romantic ambivalence that these issues are at least flagged for the reader.

Rating: star Book Review: Die for Me by Amy Plumstar Book Review: Die for Me by Amy Plumstar Book Review: Die for Me by Amy Plumhalfstar Book Review: Die for Me by Amy Plumblankstar Book Review: Die for Me by Amy Plum (very good)

With thanks to HarperCollins Australia for the review copy

Purchase Die for Me'from Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA


  1. I have this book sitting on my review shelf I really need to get to it soon.

  2. Stephanie /

    Did you shelve it for the same reason I did? I think this one could really do with a title change!

  3. The cover of this book keeps catching my eye but the story seems pretty similar to what is out there so whether I like it or not would all depend on the execution. I doubt I will buy it, but might borrow it from the library. Maybe I need a contact at Hachette so I can add to my review shelf :) LOL

  4. Stephanie /

    I quite like the idea of the revenants, but have a feeling that those who have read a lot more UF than me may find this one a little samey-samey.

    I know you have a similar outlook to me when it comes to possessive partners and all-encompassing love, so you might struggle with the last few chapters!

  5. No, my reasoning was having so many other books to read! I do like the cover on this one, so it kind of makes up for the title.

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