Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Read from April 6, 2008 to April 8, 2008
Book: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Number of Pages: 314
Genre/s: Young Adult, Retelling


Mirabelle's past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents' tragic deaths to her guardians' half-truths about why she can't return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who's a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren't pretty things, and they don't always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own . . . brothers who share a dark secret. And she'll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.

Excerpt: "Don't you know the first thing about fairy tales, Mirabelle? No one is going to spoon-feed you the answers. A curse is as much about courage as it is about growth. They're one and the same."

It's been a long time since I came across a book that gripped me from its first page and that book cover could never be more appropriate for this mesmerizing novel.  

"Girls became victims and heroines. Boys became lovers and murderers. And sometimes...they became both"

Kill Me Softly revolves around Mirabelle, an orphan. Her parents had died in a tragic fire at her christening party so she lived with her two loving godmothers. She always dreamt of visiting her parents' grave but her godmothers won't allow it. So on her sixteenth birthday, she runaway and went to Beau Rivage to look for her parents' resting place. But Beau Rivage was not really a regular town and she was introduced to people whom she thought only existed on children's books and bedtime stories.

She met Felix and she fell in love with him despite the many warnings of Blue and others. She knew what was coming, but she gave in to the temptation to know more about him. She thought she was special, the sole exception to all that he was capable of doing. She believed what she wanted to believe and that was Mira's mistake and it almost cost her life.

Mirabelle or Mira was by no means perfect. She was stubborn, hard-headed, and sometimes downright rude. But what really got to me was the insta-love. I almost hated her for it but I do think she couldn't help it. Felix was magnetic and enthralling because it is in his blood--or in his curse to be alluring to girls who are vulnerable. He might seemed perfect but he was dangerous. Blue, Felix's younger brother, tried to ward her off through unconventional deed. He share the same curse with his brother, but whilst Felix is charming, Blue is exasperating.

One of Mira's weakness was plunging blindly to love so quickly. By running away, she was finally able to stand on her own because although her godmothers love her so much, they shielded her too much and she was sicked with all the rules. The do's and dont's were just too suffocating.  That's why when Blue kept on warning her, she was fast to stay on the other path, the wrong direction which made her all the more naive and trusting to the wrong person.

Felix was undeniably, a gentleman. I liked him, although I was a bit wary with all his perfectness and smoothness. But like Mira I did not believe Blue because he was, in a lack of better word, a jerk.  He drove me nuts with his mixed-signals, inept warnings, and unwavering cockiness.

The characters although not without weaknesses and imperfections were impressively apt for the setting Cross was trying to build. Her version was not conventional wherein everything just fit perfectly into place. In Kill Me Softly, there is no guarantee that you will have your happy ending. But you were a pawn, nonetheless, because you are a character in a story that has already been written. So Cross needed her characters to stray afar from the goody-two-shoes act. She need them to rebel even if fate could just thwart their efforts.

The other characters were also very interesting. I kept guessing who's who.  The modern versions of the fairy tale characters we loved like Snow White, Beauty while greatly different from the ones we're familiar with are surprisingly fresh and fascinating.

But what really captivated me was the retelling itself. If the book cover was any indication, Cross did not choose to pattern her story with the usual "cheery" versions. It was the Grimms' version she picked, the version where The Little Mermaid did not get his Prince and became a sea foam, where Cinderella's stepsisters cut their toes to be able to fit into Cinderella's tiny slipper. It was the mixing and incorporating part that held my attention.

"She'd never looked more beautiful, more perfect, than she did when she was dead...I held her life in my hands. And then I took it away from her...I lost her. I destroyed her. But I never forgot her. I never let her go."

I hated the weakness of Mira, the insta-love, her indecisiveness and impetuousness.  I almost gave up reading this. But Kill Me Softly has its moments, and when it has it, it was glorious. The little snippets of a story within chosen chapters were haunting but incredibly enchanting. The Bluebeard tale depicting that of the curse of the Valentine brothers (I am not really sure if this was adapted) was extremely well-done and perfect for the scene. The little details made the whole novel much more whole and solid: the animal magnetism, the taxonomy of curses, Jewel coughing up gems, Viv savaged treatment to apples, Henley's obsession to Viv, Freddie's obsession to swords, Blue's hair color, Felix bloody chamber, the razor blade necklace. It was full of everything and I would have smacked myself if I gave up on it because of its flaws and setbacks.

Kill Me Softly was an exceptional take on fairy tales. It was a whole new dimension of retelling and it was anything but fluffy or light. It was original and the plot was cleverly woven. It amazes me that beneath all the dark and twisted layers, the core was really about hope and love. If you want a leap away from traditional happily ever afters, then you do not want to miss this brilliantly executed novel. I love retellings and Kill Me Softly did not disappoint.

Cupid's Verdict:
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4 1/2 Cupids

 An advance copy was provided by the publisher at no cost via Netgalley.
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14 comments:

  1. That is still a really good rating even though there were a few parts you didn't like. I think I'd enjoy the remix of the retelling and way they are incorporated into this story. Sounds like the kind of story that really hold your attention. Thanks for the review.

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    1. Hi there, Missie! I know, the story just really make up for all the things I didn't like. I really wish you'd give this a try. I'm excited to know what you'll think of it. :)

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  2. Those quotes you posted are fantastic. This sounds like something I want to read; I have a soft spot for fairy tale retellings. I do hate jerky guys, though, but I think I'll add this one to my list anyway. Thanks for the great review!

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    1. Thanks, Penelope! And Blue is not really a jerk. Just someone who acts like one. I do hope you read this! Kill Me Softly is fantastic.

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  3. Thanks for the review! :) I see a lot of positive feedback for this book and the cover is really beautiful. I hope it's a good retelling that I'll enjoy :)

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    1. I know, the cover is not only beautiful but it's really appropriate for the theme of the story. If you love retellings then I seriously recommend this book! :)

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  4. Nice review! I read this one as well, but I didn't really take to Mirabelle. Glad you liked it though!

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    1. Ah Mirabelle, the weak point in all the awesomeness of Kill Me Softly. I do believe that's intended by the author. Now, I'm really curious about your review. Would you care to link it here? :)

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  5. AHHHHR I need to read this! I love new takes on fairy tales. Great review.

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    1. Thanks Sam! I hope you read this soon! I can't wait to hear what you think of it. :)

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  6. +JMJ+

    I've been skeptical of this title since I heard about the insta-love plot device, so I'm glad you don't like it, either, because it means you're selling the book in spite of it rather than because of it. It still seems to me, though, that the really interesting stuff is in the world building--happening around the main characters rather than being directly connected to them. I have a feeling that if I read this, I'll come away loving the supporting characters and feeling "meh" about the leads! =P

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  7. Love the review! I want this book so badly! Thanks for sharing. :)

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  8. I enjoyed this book quite a bit, which surprised me. I agree with most of what you said about it. The insta-love got on my nerves, and Mirabelle did at times as well. However, overall, I liked the book quite a bit. Great review!

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  9. The second I read Grimm Brothers, I was in. All the way in. I love the darker, grittier side to fairy tales. Sometimes it IS great to read the sweet, happily-ever-after love story, especially when you have had a rough day or week or month. But sometimes, I want to be in a dark alley with a monster that is trying to capture me, and even though I fight as hard as I can, the monster wins. That is what books are about, to me. The different stories, the scary and the happy, the mystery and intrigue, and the happy and the sad endings. I want different dynamics in the books that I read, not cookie-cutter perfect. So, I do believe that Kill Me Softly is a book that I will read without question. Thanks for your great review!

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