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Book Review: Until I Die

Until I DieUntil I Die
By Amy Plum
May 8, 2012
Ages 14 and up
HarperTeen
Reviewed: ARC (from publisher)

Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

Kate and Vincent have overcome the odds and at last they are together in Paris, the city of lights and love.

As their romance deepens there’s one question they can’t ignore: How are they supposed to be together if Vincent can’t resist sacrificing himself to save others? Although Vincent promises that he’ll do whatever it takes to lead a normal life with Kate, will that mean letting innocent people die? When a new and surprising enemy reveals itself, Kate realizes that even more may be at stake—and that Vincent’s immortality is in jeopardy.

JENNA’S REVIEW

Ah, the middle book in a series… Typically, one worries about whether or not the installment would have “middle-book syndrome”. In this case, I wondered if I would like it more than the first book. Thankfully, for me, UNTIL I DIE was better. Much better.

Plot: 8

Until I Die starts off where its predecessor, Die for Me, left off. Kate has been accepted in her true love’s family of Revenants. She has survived the ordeals of the first book and is a stronger person for it. But now Vincent is keeping a secret from her. He won’t tell her exactly what it is, she only knows that it affects his lively hood, his immortality and his ability to grow old with Kate. But she is determined to find out what he is up to, even if it means taking matters into her own hands… In the meantime, new characters are introduced and new dangers are afoot. You know it’s all going to build up to one explosive climax; albeit, much like the first book, rather slooowly.

Characters: 7

Aw, gee. A 7… but let me explain. Gone, for the most part, are the traits that made the characters in the the first book seem like clones of those other, more sparkly, immortals. Gone is the angst and uncertainly that drove me mad about Kate in the first book. But unfortunately, gone is Vincent for a large part of Until I Die. And he is sorely missed. I clung to the moments where he and Kate were together; for in these moments, Vincent was a charmingly swoon-worthy, if not “under the weather”, immortal. I loved how their relationship was dealt with in this installment, although I still wonder why they insist of “keeping secrets” in order to “protect” each other… In addition, I love the way that Amy pulled Kate’s grandparents even further into the story and into Kate’s life. What I didn’t love was the inclusion of some new, rather predictable, new characters. The lack of Vincent and the inclusion of these new characters were what dragged the Characters score down.

Setting: 10

Just like in book one, Amy does a very nice job of taking us up and down the streets of Paris, into the theatres and markets that are scattered throughout the town. The sights and sounds, you will be pulled right into them along with Kate and co.

Pacing: 7

While much better paced than book one, Until I Die still suffered from a slightly slow middle. For a large portion of the book we are either hanging out with Kate and her new “gal pal” at the theatre, going on dates with Vincent or researching the Revenants all over town. We join Kate in her search for more answers about Vincent, the numa and being a Revenant. What we discover is, at times, quite surprising and very much worth the wait. Yet, the whole time I was reading I knew that we probably wouldn’t receive our big WOW Moment until the very last pages. Granted, when that WOW Moment did appear it was one very BIG “WOW!” indeed.

Style: 8

Amy ups her game a bit with this installment. She has added some extensive (albeit, made up) research into her story and the way she goes about revealing it is a fun adventure for both Kate and the reader. I like her Revenant mythology and was surprised by some of Kate’s findings. I think she needs to work on her ability to keep the story from being too predictable. Though, considering the twist that she gave us at the very end of Until I Die, I doubt we have to worry about that issue in book three. Or, at least, I hope not.

While book two is not without its faults, I know I’ll definitely be sticking around to find out what fate has in store for the two star-crossed lovers in the final book, If I Should Die. The HUGE cliffhanger at the end of Until I Die cinched it.

Grade: 90

And the Winner of the Until I Die ARC is…

Thank you to all who entered the giveaway to win an ARC of UNTIL I DIE by Amy Plum. I personally enjoyed this sequel to Die For Me much more than its predecessor. I anticipate having my review for Until I Die posted soon, so look out for that.

Oh, and don’t forget! Our No Strings Attached Giveaway for a Limited Wedding Dress Edition of Breaking Dawn Part 1 on DVD ends tomorrow. If you haven’t yet, get a move on and enter that one while you can! Now, without any further delay…

ThUntil I Diee WINNER of the ARC of UNTIL I DIE is…

Jenea Whittington

Congratulations! Please email me at imakethegrade (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address so that I may get the book to you. You have 72 hours to respond before I select a new winner.

And if you didn’t win, don’t worry! Stay tuned as we open up new giveaways every week. Fantastic prizes, games, author interviews and more are on the schedule, be sure to continue following Making the Grade so you don’t miss out!

Revenants Week Blog Tour: Die For Me Book Review + Giveaway

Die For MeDie For Me
By Amy Plum
HarperTeen
Ages 14 and up
Hardcover
Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life–and memories–behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant–an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

JENNA’S REVIEW:

While reading the first 150 pages or so of DIE FOR ME, I felt that I would likely have to put on a poncho and acquire an umbrella to have on hand for when people read my review of the book. All in anticipation of the possibility of tomatoes being thrown my way. But then, I reached the midpoint of the book and decided that those items would no longer be necessary. While not without its faults, and its apparent similarities to a certain book about a sullen girl who falls in love with an immortal hottie, I actually found myself ENJOYING Amy plum’s debut novel. To the point that I eagerly anticipate her second book in the trilogy, UNTIL I DIE.

Plot: 7

Die For Me starts off on a pretty depressing note. Kate Mercier and her sister Georgia are moving to Paris; not by choice, but as a result of the recent untimely death of their parents. In the City of Lights, Kate spends most of her days alone, mourning the loss of her parents in the local museums and coffee shops, while Georgia eases her woes with endless partying. Kate spends much of the first part of the book doing nothing but mourning, until she catches the eye of a certain mysterious (and HOT) young man. Then she spends the next handful of chapters doing nothing but watching him and falling in love with the mysterious stranger. THEN they meet and further develop their love. You’re left waiting for something to happen other than discovering who and what Vincent is, which doesn’t even happen until 100-150 pages or so into the book. And THEN things start getting complicated, motives of certain characters are revealed and the story gets really GOOD. Really, it’s worth reading Die For Me and dealing with the “watching and waiting”, even if just for the final 100 pages of the story.

Characters: 7

One of the biggest pit falls of Die For Me is the amount of time spent with Kate and Vincent just “watching” each other. Kate herself is a fairly well-developed character. Her background is established in the beginning, she has thoughts and emotions that are realistic of a person who just lost her parents. Even her sister Georgia and her reactions to their parent’s deaths are realistic. Unfortunately, Kate becomes a bit stale as a character during the time spent watching Vincent and then subsequently trying to stay away from him once she finds out who (and what) he is. Also, at times she does things simply because she feels she “should” but then she turns around and changes her mind within the blink of an eye. I guess this is the realistic nature of a teenager, but her actions and decisions had my eyes (and my head) rolling at times.

Then there’s Vincent. He’s hot and he’s “immortal”, he has wicked hair and an “old soul”. Sound familiar? Lucky for him, he’s also funny, laid back and not a total prude. Whew! Vincent also has a “family” that feels somewhat familiar, with a “creator” who is also a father figure of sorts… Hmm. But all these striking similarities are forgiven when the story is taken in a direction that separates the supporting characters from their “other” immortal counterparts.

I did laugh at the numerous “stalker” references throughout the book, though, and the occasional apparent jab at a certain other immortal stalker. At times I almost felt that maybe mockery was intended to a certain extent when it came to the characters in this book. Who knows!

Setting: 10

Paris, The City of Lights. Amy Plum knows her setting, she loves her setting, heck, she recently moved to her setting! She does a very nice job of taking us up and down the streets of Sweet Pari, into the cafes and galleries that are scattered throughout the town. The sights and sounds, you will be pulled right into them along with Kate. Even Vincent’s home receives much attention in the story. I commend Amy in being able to create a scene and set us right into it. Much like the cover of the book, her setting is enthralling.

Pacing: 6

This is the part where I thought that a poncho and umbrella would come in handy. Oh, Amy, if only you could have condensed the first 150 pages into half that many! Your story would have improved greatly, and the early pacing should have been more in line with the later events of the story. I grew tired just “watching and waiting” with Kate. I wanted to bop her over the head with the book when so much time was spend mulling over this boy that she didn’t even know. At one point I almost put the book down. But then suddenly, with all the silly melodrama put behind, things FINALLY got interesting and I decided to keep reading. AND I’M GLAD I DID! If not for the later half of the book, Die For Me could very well have been a DNF on my shelves, and I would have missed out on what eventually turned into a very engrossing and promising story. (But the first half of the book… Oi…)

Style: 8

Amy is a commendable writer. Her prose and descriptions of her world reveal that she has great potential. But there are two departments where I had issues: First was Kate’s grandparents and their apparent disregard for the well-being of their grandchildren (Really? Letting a teenager party every night? A sleepover at a boy’s house just so the child can “live the life”? Ugh, as a mom myself, that’s disturbing.) And second, the occasional wooden dialogue. At times, when I think the moment was supposed to be serious, instead I found myself laughing because of things the characters would say. These moments came in spurts, but they were a bit distracting when they did happen.

But then again, this is a debut and, as is the case with most debut authors, one would hope that skill will improve with each release. Plus, what with all of the “watching and waiting” behind us, I have a feeling that great things are in store in UNTIL I DIE. I will definitely be reading it to see if I’m right.

Grade: 88

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Giveaway ends at midnight on Friday, April 20, 2012.