21 July 2015

Vivian Divine is Dead by Laurel Sabel

I'd had Lauren Sabel's VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD on my list for months. Months! I read about it when I was looking for thrillers and/or books about celebrity, and since it had both, I leapt at the chance.

Vivian Divine is the quintessential young Hollywood actress: rich, famous parents, precocious talent, accolades and awards, a hot boyfriend and a famous best friend. Then her mother is murdered, and her own life is threatened, and she has to go on the run to Mexico, right around the festival of the Day of the Dead.

The book started like a shot, roaring off into action straight away. The setup was compelling, if a little clich├ęd: in the months since her mother's murder, Vivian's father has become even more distant, her boyfriend has cheated on her (painfully and publicly) with her best friend, but she's had to put a brave face on everything for the tabloids. I was kind of hoping the book would delve more into what it's like living under that kind of spotlight and constant scrutiny, but I felt like Vivian just kind of scraped the surface of what that kind of life is like.

Vivian's flight to Mexico, and her budding relationship with Nick, her local-boy rescuer, was fun and flirty and swoony, but then again, I felt like it was the kind of thing I'd seen before.

Ultimately, I felt that way about most of the book: the characters were likable and readable, but nothing particularly new. The plot twists were great, but at times too easy to predict.

The ending left me feeling REALLY unfulfilled. It felt like the middle book in a trilogy, but as far as I can tell it's supposed to be a stand-alone.

In the end, I had very mixed feelings about VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD. The writing was crisp and compelling, the voice was relatable and fun, but ultimately, the story wasn't where I wanted it to be.