Welcome to Compare and Contrast, a periodic feature in which I discuss two books with similar themes or plot elements. Today I'm discussing two books in which the protagonist has to solve her own murder. Creepy? Cool? Cheesy? Let's find out...
My Last Kiss
by Bethany Neal
To be published on June 10, 2014
By Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source: Thanks to Macmillan for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book!
Synopsis from Goodreads: What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy? Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss--the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died--is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn't a suicide as everyone assumes. She can't remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she's worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.
My take: I requested My Last Kiss despite my misgivings about a) reading another book with an amnesia element and b) the fact that the book features a ghost character, both of which are plot elements that haven't always worked for me before. But overall, I enjoyed this story. It's a twisty, suspenseful tale of love and betrayal. From the book's first pages, I knew that Cassidy wasn't going to be an admirable character, but I still found her sympathetic. I mean, she's dead, and she's desperate to prove that her death wasn't suicide or an accident, but murder.
Chelsea and her group of friends and their boyfriends are an interesting group. They seem close, but you know right off that characters are keeping secrets from one another. Chelsea's was keeping a huge secret before she died, but she clearly feels a lot of remorse about it. Now that she's dead, there is one person who can still see her, and talk to her, a fact which causes her both joy and guilt.
While My Last Kiss wasn't a super-romantic book, or one that tugged at my heart, it did have a lot of suspense and kept me guessing until the end about what actually happened to poor Chelsea. If you've enjoyed books like The Ghost and the Goth or Life After Theft, and shows like PLL, you might definitely want to give this one a try.
Vivian Divine is Dead
by Lauren Sabel
To be published by Katherine Tegen Books
on June 3, 2014
Source: Thanks to Harper for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book.
Synopsis from Goodreads:When a death threat arrives with teen celebrity Vivian Divine's fan mail, Vivian has no choice but to go on the run to Mexico. She soon discovers, though, that her Oscar-nominated performance killing villains on-screen did nothing to prepare her for escaping a madman in real life. Some people say he's a hero, others tremble in his presence, but one thing is clear: he won't stop until Vivian is in his grasp. Why didn't she pay more attention during those judo lessons for her role in Zombie Killer? Vivian finds an ally in the mysterious and charming Nick. He is everything Hollywood boys are not-genuine, kind, and determined to see Vivian for who she really is. But even he seems like he can't be trusted-what could he be hiding? Beat up, hungry, and more confused than ever about who she's running from, Vivian is living in a real-life blockbuster horror flick. But there's no option to yell "cut" like there is on set....
My take: Picture this: you're standing at a party or in line at the store and all of a sudden this random person starts telling you some crazy story about something that happened to them. What they're telling you sounds like the plot of a very complicated yet completely implausible action movie. You're listening, thinking: "Is this for real? Is this person delusional?" That's how I felt while reading this book.
In the first few pages, Vivian tells the reader that she's an Oscar-nominated 16 year-old actress whose famous mother was just murdered, famous father recently attempted suicide, and (you guessed it) famous boyfriend just publicly cheated on her with her best friend. (I can't remember if the best friend was famous or not. Probably.) Just when you're taking all that in, Vivian receives a DVD that shows her own death, and has to disguise herself and go on the run to Mexico. Just because, okay? Because the police and FBI are totally "in on it." Don't ask so many questions.
At times I wondered if Vivian a) was suffering from some kind of mental breakdown brought on by the death of her mother, b) forgot that she was starring in some B-action film the whole time, or c) was having a bad dream. I was hoping for some kind of crazy revelation in the last pages, but the ending actually was kind of unresolved.
This wasn't entirely my kind of book, but if you enjoy campy fast-paced stories that read like a movie script, give this one a try!