Books · REVIEWS

Vivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel

Vivian Divine Is Dead

“Grief is like that. It starts off as a painful, bloody wound, then it crusts into a scab, and eventually, it fades into a scar. The scar’s always there, but it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

Filled with surprising twists and poignant moments, Lauren Sabel brings a fresh new voice to contemporary fiction with Vivian Divine Is Dead. Creepy, clever, funny, and romantic.

When a death threat arrives with teen celebrity Vivian Divine’s fan mail, Vivian has no choice but to go on the run to Mexico. She soon discovers, though, that her Oscar-nominated performance killing villains on-screen did nothing to prepare her for escaping a madman in real life. Some people say he’s a hero, others tremble in his presence, but one thing is clear: he won’t stop until Vivian is in his grasp. Why didn’t she pay more attention during those judo lessons for her role in Zombie Killer?

Vivian finds an ally in the mysterious and charming Nick. He is everything Hollywood boys are not-genuine, kind, and determined to see Vivian for who she really is. But even he seems like he can’t be trusted-what could he be hiding?

Beat up, hungry, and more confused than ever about who she’s running from, Vivian is living in a real-life blockbuster horror flick. But there’s no option to yell “cut” like there is on set….

Lauren Sabel’s Vivian Divine Is Dead is a creepy, witty, fast-paced adventure about family, fame, and having the courage to save yourself.

Filled with surprising twists and poignant moments, Lauren Sabel brings a fresh new voice to contemporary fiction with Vivian Divine Is Dead. Creepy, clever, funny, and romantic.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters | Goodreads | National Book Store

Personal Thoughts:

Vivian Divine is an Oscar nominated 16 year old actress. Her celebrity mother died, her father almost kill himself through suicide and her celebrity boyfriend cheated on her with her bestfriend. To make everything worst, she is getting death threat with a video on how she will gonna die. With all that is happening around her, she run and hide to Mexico hoping to save herself from unknown killer who might be the killer of her own mother.

“Filled with surprising twists and poignant moments, Lauren Sabel brings a fresh new voice to contemporary fiction with Vivian Divine Is Dead. Creepy, clever, funny, and romantic.”

When you read a description like the above as part of the book blurb of any book, you will surely expect something great or at least an enjoyable read. And since I’m a sucker of mystery novel with female protagonist, those expectations just double even before I start reading Vivian Divine is Dead. I wanted so much to be impressed, or at least to get lost myself in the story and to experience a thrilling ride but unfortunately those things didn’t happen.

First reason is the narrator herself, Vivian. For a protagonist, I think she is lacking of edge. She is too self-absorbed and too immature for my liking. With her rich & celebrity background, it can be acceptable for her to be self-centered and naive about the real world since she isn’t living it, but it won’t hurt much to see some character growth from her. As a lead character, I think she wasn’t fully developed in the story.

The other characters also failed to impress me. No one stand out or at least makes me want to care or root for them., not even one character for me to cheer or wish good luck. As hard as I tried to connect and care for any of them, they all end up flat to me. I’m not sure if this is because the main character at the first place is too bland for my taste, which possibly makes the narration too flat and plain for a chance to see someone who will stand out in Vivian’s perspective.

Then we have the plot which consist of a lot of far-fetch story lines. If this is a fantasy novel I might accept far-fetch plot curve but this is set in a real world with supposed to be realistic characters so those things that happen in here are too coincidental for my liking. It’s like an orchestrated drama played in local TV series. At some point while I’m reading, I thought that maybe the story is actually a script of a movie where Vivian is playing a role. Like maybe, at the end she will pull out a twist revealing that everything that happened is actually part of a scripted film where she is the lead actress (after all she is a celebrity). But that didn’t happen either.

And for a story with unbelievable story line, this book is also predictable. I don’t know how, but the book accomplished to be both predictable and unconvincing. Though I don’t exactly guess everything that happened or every motivations of the characters, I still guessed every characters’ role in the plot — how they will turn in the end, and their role in Vivian’s life.

Now to be fair. Vivian Divine is Dead isn’t all bad. Despite all the issues I mentioned above this book is still a flowing read. For most part, the pacing is well balance which I guess the main reason why this book didn’t end up in my DNF pile. The author managed to make the story continuously flowing with all the actions and thrilling mystery surrounding Vivian’s life. The unknown killer and his motivation alone is one thing that get me glued, trying to uncover those details while working out every possible scenarios I can’t think of.

Overall. Vivian Divide is Dead is a fast-paced, easily devoured read that suffered from its weak heroine and melodramatic plot. If you don’t mind predictability and weak characterization the story might actually work for you.

* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

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