Saturday, November 15, 2014

What we're reading: Thriller

Valentina Cruz is the daughter of a wealthy Miami art dealer, the apple of her father's eye and his knowledgeable companion at museums, galleries and art sales. She has two sisters, a bunch of friends, a boyfriend, beautiful clothes, a car, and a virtually unlimited allowance. So why is she suddenly living in Montreal under a pseudonym, busking with her mandolin on street corners for spare change and modeling for a lousy painter, living in the closet of an apartment she shares with three other people, and freezing through the Canadian winter? Why has she changed her identity, left her life of privilege, and failed to tell anyone--including her beloved Papi and her boyfriend Emilio--where she has gone?

Kiss Kill Vanish, by Jessica Martinez, received a fair share of ones and twos in amongst the fours and fives on Goodreads, and after checking it out, I almost brought it back to the library without reading it because of that--but I'm glad I decided to give it a chance, because I was engaged by this book. Were there things wrong with it? Definitely: too much self-absorption on the part of the protagonist, some cliché, a love triangle (which I usually hate)... But I liked the way Martinez revealed "Jane" (aka Valentina) to us and to herself, and let her gain knowledge and self-trust throughout the book; and I ended up liking the love interest too.

It's one of those "you must suspend disbelief" kinds of thrillers, with some absurdist stuff that you could say is completely implausible, but hey, it's entertaining! The ending was a bit tidy, but…I'd say if you like books like Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins (for teen angst and foreign locales), or I Am the Weapon, by Allen Zadoff (for the teaser background of the organization and for the suspense), you'd probably like this too. Yes, I know those are weird books to compare to one another, but this one kind of brings it all together. Pretty good writing, the right level of teen drama, interesting locales and dilemmas…yeah, I'd go 3.5 out of 5 for teens.

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