Book Review: Kiss Kill Vanish
By: Jessica Martinez
Published By: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Page Count: 432
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary, Thriller
This was my first experience with Jessica Martinez's writing, but I was pleasantly surprised with the way she weaves a story together. Kiss Kill Vanish kept me guessing until the very end.
Valentina Cruz has lived a life of privilege on the sandy beaches of Miami. She's been surrounded by wealth and priceless works of art for as long as she can remember. One night changes everything and Valentina's life begins to unravel into a puddle of lies and deception. After witnessing a murder at the hands of the man who has her heart and the father she has loved so deeply, Valentina flees. She ends up in Montreal penniless. Her only source of income is the mandolin that was given to her by Emilio, her boyfriend who broke her heart with a single shot. Valentina becomes Jane and seeks to outrun the horrors of her past, but she soon learns that the Cruz family has eyes and ears everywhere. Another death forces Valentina into the life of Marcel, the brother of the deceased. The two seemingly have nothing in common, but over time they learn what true friendship looks like.
I liked the friendship between Valentina and Marcel. In the beginning, I thought I was going to despise Marcel, but he soon became my favorite character. The friendship between these two felt realistic and it wasn't forced.
In addition, I enjoyed the internal conflict Valentina suffers through concerning Emilio and her father. This conflict saturates the entire novel and forces Valentina to look at her reality in a different way. I also feel like her struggles help give her a strength that she would not have found otherwise. Valentina is a character to be admired - even though she has many flaws and makes a slew of mistakes.
I wish I could go into more details about what I enjoyed about this novel, but it would spoil the read. I was glued to my Kindle once the Miami scenes started.
I must point out that Valentina's time in Montreal was often tedious for me. Like Valentina, I felt like time was passing slowly. The moments when Marcel was around brightened my mood and kept me reading, but there was so much dullness and monotony in the beginning. I'm worried that many readers won't persevere through this section and will miss out on the true gems this novel contains as a result. I understand that Martinez was placing the reader in the moment with Valentina, but it did derail my reading pace and enjoyment. This novel felt like a ferris wheel ride - there were moments of action, but then it would be halted by something mundane like Valentina watching the clock or worrying instead of doing something. Like a ferris wheel, I love the movement and seeing things from a different perspective, but I hate waiting while a new group is loaded. The hovering makes me uneasy and Valentina's dark days in Montreal conjured up the same feeling for me. Writing the novel in such a way was an interesting choice. It might even border on brilliant; as a reader time passed slowly and I felt Valentina's despair. I could even visualize the growing water stain on her ceiling as she watched the clock drain minutes from her life. In spite of finding the narration choice to be intriguing, it did reduce my rating of the novel because there were moments when I wasn't sure I could get through another chapter.
My other major complaint is that some of the plot didn't feel realistic or authentic. As a reader, I had to suspend my disbelief and go with the flow.
Overall, there were moments I loved and moments that felt boring. I wish the momentum of the Miami portion of the story could have been present for more of Valentina's time in Montreal. I did like this novel, but when I look at everything as a whole, I had to balance my complaints with what I loved.
One Last Gripe: There were moments when Valentina seemed a bit too naive and trusting considering her circumstances.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I liked that Martinez kept me guessing. The last few chapters had some twists I never saw coming.
First Sentence: "Jane, darling, you have to keep still."
Favorite Character: Marcel
Least Favorite Character: Papi
Valentina Cruz no longer exists.
One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.
She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.
She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.