Ruby's Reviews > Die for Me

Die for Me by Amy Plum
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's review
May 26, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: teen, paris
Read in May, 2011

This review was first posted on

Die for Me has been at the top of a lot of lists of highly anticipated titles for 2011. It's a debut by a new author, it's both a paranormal and a romance, and it has an exotic, foreign setting. These are winning elements in my mind, but put together, in this book, the finished product isn't as successful as I'd like it to have been.
Now, I'm a hardcore romantic. When I read a book, the romance has to work for me in order for the book itself to work. But that doesn't mean a great romance is enough to carry the weight of the whole story. I'm certain there are exceptions to this, but I'm not going to go there right now. I bring this up because Die for Me revolves around the romance between Kate and Vincent and, in my opinion, the rest of the book suffered. Kate tells the story in first person, but I don't feel that I know that much about her outside of her relationship with Vincent. I have no idea what her school is like, for instance, and I was disappointed not to get a taste of Paris from the writing. Most of all, I felt that without those other aspects of Kate's life, she was not a particularly vibrant character. I wasn't even a big fan of their romance, though this was due in large part to the push-pull "I love you, but I can't bear to be with you because I don't want to lose you like I did my parents" stuff.
Another thing that I struggled with was that I really, really expected people to have lived so long to have greater wisdom. I mean, there are things that some people will never learn no matter how old they get, but pretty much everyone with a tad of wisdom learns a thing or two about communication. The best example that I can think of is when Jean-Baptiste tells Kate's new friend, Charlotte:

"...but because of the circumstances I leave it up to you, Charlotte, to break the news to your brother that I have asked you both to leave."

(Gasp--end of chapter--which is the literary equivalent of the commercial break.) I object to this kind of manufactured cliffhanger. Jean-Baptiste isn't kicking Charlotte and her brother out, he's sending them away so that Charles (the brother) can recuperate. He also isn't saying they have to leave forever, so all this is is Jean-Baptiste finding the most dramatic and hurtful way to break the news to Charlotte. Which, I must add, doesn't really jibe with his character's "wisdom of the aged" personality.
Finally, my biggest problem here was the world-building. This is a hard topic for me to address because I think world-building is incredibly difficult and I don't doubt that it represents a challenge for any author who attempts it. With that in mind, I'll try to keep my critiquing as constructive as possible. By definition, paranormal fiction messes with what we know of as the rules of our world. It alters them--sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small. But the thing is: in a paranormal world, the rules change--but there are still rules. I think Amy Plum played fast and loose with the world-building in Die for Me. No sooner does she introduce a rule, than there's an exception. For example: Vincent tells Kate that when a revenant is "volant," he or she can't communicate with a living person. Not much later we find out that, for some reason, this rule doesn't hold true for Kate and Vincent.
I find that this is an element of Die for Me that I can't get past. It irritated me long after finally closed my Kindle. This book was not my cup of tea. I don't doubt that Amy Plum will find her audience. I just know I'm not it.
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