Amy Plum’s Die for Me had been on my to-read list for a while, but, when I heard that it had been selected as a nominee for the 2013-14 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award, I moved it to the top of the list. (Even though I’m now in an elementary school, I still like to read as many of the SCYABA nominees as I possibly can.) It took me a little longer to read this book than I would have liked, but I finally finished it this morning. (By the way, it wasn’t the book’s fault that it took me a while to read. It was totally gripping…but so was all the other stuff going on in my life. I won’t bore you with the details.)
Anyhoo, Die for Me is the first book in a series about beings called Revenants. Revenants are a little like zombies, but, since they aren’t nearly as creepy or gross, I was okay with it. (My aversion to zombies is fairly well-known.) The main character in this book, sixteen-year-old Katie, is about to be introduced to Revenants and the terrifying truth of their existence. Will it be enough to keep her away from Vincent, the most fascinating guy she’s ever encountered? Let’s find out…
After a horrible accident that claims the lives of their parents, Katie and her older sister Georgia move to Paris to live with their grandparents. Georgia is jumping back into life with both feet, but Katie cannot let go of the grief that colors every part of her world. She retreats into her beloved books so that she doesn’t have to deal with her own pain, and it works…for a while. One day, though, she encounters a boy who changes everything. At first, she thinks he doesn’t notice her, but Katie soon learns that this boy, Vincent, not only notices her but he has become sort of obsessed with her. Why? There’s nothing special about her…is there?
For some reason, Katie runs into Vincent nearly everywhere she turns, and, after Katie’s life is saved by one of Vincent’s friends, Katie and Vincent are drawn even more closely together. Katie fights Vincent’s pull, but she just can’t seem to stay away from him, and it’s clear that he feels the same way. Even when Katie learns the truth about what Vincent really is, she is incapable of really letting him go. She tries. Oh, how she tries, but she just can’t give him up.
When it becomes apparent that Vincent–and his friends–aren’t exactly human, Katie resolves to know the truth about this boy she’s coming to truly care for…and Vincent tells her as much as he can. He and his companions are Revenants, people that died while trying to save another’s life. When they died the first time, they awoke three days later, seemingly human again. Revenants have a kind of immortality, and they keep their youth by saving lives. There is a trade-off, though. Each time they save a life, they experience death yet again. And even when they don’t save a life, each Revenant essentially dies for three days once a month. It’s a lot for Katie to take in, and, at least at first, Katie doesn’t think she can handle it, but she realizes fairly quickly that living without Vincent is not living at all, so the two of them do their best to really be together.
As Katie becomes more and more involved in Vincent’s world, she learns that Vincent and company are not the only undead traversing around Paris. Their enemies, the numa (evil Revenants), are also out and about, and, while Revenants are reborn when they save a life, the numa prolong their existence by taking lives. They kill, convince people to commit suicide, and wreak havoc on both Revenants and the people around them. And they’ll stop at nothing–nothing–to destroy Vincent and those trying to do a little good in the world.
Life is getting very complicated for Katie. She is sure that her feelings for Vincent are real, but dealing with his unique “life” may be more than even a strong girl like her can handle. She’s already dealt with so much death in her life. Can she really be with someone who basically dies at least once per month? And if she does decide that being with Vincent is worth it, can Katie handle being put in danger’s way herself? What does being the girlfriend of a Revenant really mean? What is Katie willing to sacrifice to be with Vincent–her sanity, her family, her own life? Read Die for Me, the first book in Amy Plum’s Revenants series, to learn what someone is willing to risk for love.
Like I mentioned before, Die for Me is a gripping read, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book, Until I Die, which is already out. (The third book, If I Should Die, is due out this May. There’s also an ebook novella, Die for Her, that will be released in early April.) After reading the first installment in this series, I’m definitely hooked, so I’m sure I’ll be reading all things Revenant.
I think this book is fine for readers in both middle school and high school. (I can’t say that about the second book…yet.) There is some violence appropriate to the storyline. There is also, obviously, some romance, but the characters never go “all the way” or even close to it. They take their relationship slowly (which I think more tweens and teens need to learn how to do).
I’m sure some readers will make connections with this book and others like it–the Twilight saga, in particular. In my opinion, Die for Me is much better than Twilight, but I’m all for using that hook to get readers to try something new. Do with that what you will.