Book Review: Vivian Divine Is Dead

Vivian Divine Is Dead
Published By: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Page Count: 288
Source: ARC Provided by Publisher
Audience/Genre: YA Fiction

As much as it pains the English teacher in me to admit, I'm a huge sucker for trashy, over-the-top, teen fiction. I also often, and without shame, judge a book by it's cover, at least initially. So when I saw it's fantastic cover and read a blurb for Vivian Divine Is Dead that compared it to at telenovela -- I thought, "Count me in!" I wish it had been MORE over-the-top, enough to maintain my soap opera watching, Gossip Girl loving, willing suspension of disbelief, but it didn't quite go far enough.

Vivian Divine is an Oscar-nominated teen actress with a famous director for a father and a legendary actress as a mother, so there's really to way for her to stay out of the spotlight. Her BFF and her boyfriend are also in the business and her one escape from celebrity life is her trusted bodyguard, who doubles as a friend and mother when needed. And she needs an escape, her mother was recently murdered and her father is not coping well with his wife's death (or his daughter's life). So when Vivian's life starts being threatened, in the same manner her mother's was prior to her death, she's sent to Mexico to go into hiding. And that's when things fall apart.

The plot of Vivian Divine Is Dead is definitely telanovela-esque, but it doesn't go far enough over the line of reality to be what I needed to fully surrender to the story. The long-lost family, dangerous rebels, mysterious boy, and general peril in the story kept it interesting, but it fluctuated between being believable and completely UNbelievable, and I wanted one or the other. ;)

Final Word: Sabel has some lovely descriptive writing about the Mexican setting, but the storyline wasn't over-the-top (or realistic) enough for the reader to fully commit to the craziness in the plot.

Summary via Goodreads

In this fast-paced adventure set in Mexico, teen celebrity Vivian Divine goes on the run after receiving a death threat, and discovers that everything she thought she knew about her charmed life—and the boy she loves—is a lie.