Monday, June 29, 2015

Vivian Divine is Dead - Lauren Sabel

***SPOILERS*** If you follow my blog, you know I tend to post some spoilers in my book reviews!  I do have some spoilers in this review, so if you want to be surprised, save this review for later.
Vivian Divine is Dead is the debut novel of author Lauren Sabel.  It is a YA mystery novel with plenty of twists to keep you hooked.  The novel opens with Vivian, a teen actress, receiving a DVD in the mail, and finding a note inside that says, "This is how Vivian Divine dies." Vivian tosses the DVD to her manager.  She's not worried at first, until her manager, Mary, tells her what is on the video. 

Mary shows the video to Vivian - and when Vivian sees it, she is shocked and scared (and rightfully so.)  The video shows Vivian being killed (in the same fashion as her mother.)  So, Mary sets up a whole plan to get Vivian to Mexico, where she can hide in a safehouse on an island.  Vivian leaves on a bus right away, using a fake name and a disguise to keep anyone from recognizing her.  While on the bus, Vivian falls asleep, and wakes up later to find the bus has broken down.  She gets up, walking off the bus and leaving her backpack behind, to find out what's happening.  Needless to say, someone steals her backpack from her.

While waiting for the bus to be fixed, Vivian meets Nick, who offers to help her get to her location.  He keeps calling her princess, and she doesn't trust him at first, but she lets him help her.  Throughout the journey, they stay at a church, almost get killed, find a dead FBI agent with two different colored eyes, meet a woman who is searching for her daughter, Paloma, and meets someone who says he is her birth dad.

There were a few moments where I thought to myself, "This book has potential," and a few moments where I thought, "Holy god, what is going on? This is terrible!"  For example, when the FBI Agent shows up at a church the Vivian is hiding at with Nick - it just felt a little too convenient.  Then, when the same FBI Agent shows up dead - also too convenient.  There were a few things that really bothered me about the book.

1. The action starts immediately. There is no real lead up to Vivian having to escape.  She gets the DVD in the mail, and within the first twenty pages, she is already on the run.  When action happens that quick, it is usually because it's occurring in a short story, and the action needs to be quick because their is not as much time to tell the story.  This would have been better had a lot of stuff been cut and made into a short story.

2.  When Nick and Vivian first meet, they hate each other.  He finds Vivian to be a spoiled brat (and he's right,) and she thinks Nick is kind of arrogant and rude. Then, out of nowhere, they are just in love with each other.  After knowing each other for three days.  Love takes time, and three days is not enough time.  Especially considering that a day and a half into their journey, Nick gets "kidnapped" and taken to Rosales ahead of Vivian.  Vivian is simply confused by the fact that Nick is "helping" her, and is making it seem like she's in love with him.

3. The characters were a bit flat - especially Vivian and Nick.  At the beginning of the novel, all each of them cared about was themselves.  At the end of the novel, all either of them cared about was themselves!  There was no character growth in the novel.

4. It really bothered me that Marcos kept referring to himself as Vivian's real dad.  Sure, he is her birth father, but he wasn't there to help raise her, feed her, etc.  Her real dad is the one who was there with her mom, caring for her her entire life.

Overall, I'd give this book 2 stars.  It had potential at the beginning, but fell flat and flopped around.  The plot was predictable, the characters were all selfish and underdeveloped and the story felt rushed through the entire novel.  Read it if you must, but there are surely other novels you could pick instead. 

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