Author: Amy Plum
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Romance
Release Date: May 2012 (expected)
Summary: Kate and Vincent have overcome the odds and at last they are together in Paris, the city of lights and love.
As their romance deepens there’s one question they can’t ignore: How are they supposed to be together if Vincent can’t resist sacrificing himself to save others? Although Vincent promises that he’ll do whatever it takes to lead a normal life with Kate, will that mean letting innocent people die? When a new and surprising enemy reveals itself, Kate realizes that even more may be at stake—and that Vincent’s immortality is in jeopardy.
☆: 4/5 – a great second book that doesn’t suffer from middle book syndrome!
Review: If you’re already familiar with the senusous world of revenants as established in the first book, “Die For Me”, then you know that returning to Amy Plum’s wonderful version of Paris is well worth waiting for. She definitely does not disappoint in the second installment of the series, “Until I Die”. While the pace isn’t as frenetic as the first book, there’s a slow burn of urgency to find a solution to the problem of growing old and dying with an immortal lover coupled with suspicion of our two newest revenant friends, Violette and Arthur, and their motives for really coming to the Paris House of Revenants for their investigation. Make no mistake – this book may not as be fast-paced as the first, but it’s just as deliciously detailed and twice as dark, making us wonder if there may indeed be a happily never after in store for our heroes Vincent and Kate.
As I said before, this book is quite evenly and languidly paced, unlike the first book. We’re comfortable with Vincent and the other revenants we’ve come to know and love, and we’re comfortable with Kate and Georgia. Even so, with the death of the husband of one of said revenants, it kicks Kate into action – will she face the same fate as that husband, aging as Vincent does not, and dying before him? The question/solution arc is very well plotted out and well-executed – but it’s so understated that until the numa start attacking once more do we realize what’s going on, with both Violette starting to act a little suspiciously and the realization of Kate’s eventual fate reminds her once more that Vincent is not untouchable as an immortal, and she as a human suffers the human condition – a short, brutal life (well, compared to that of an immortal). This book is made up of two main questions, which in turn makes up the one main arc of the book: is there a solution to keep Kate and Vincent able to live together without one or the other coming to grevious harm, and are the legends as foretold both about the solution and the Champion of the revenant world really true and will come to pass? And the answers are ones I did not expect at all. The last page was a cliffhanger, but also it was a definite end to that one large question arc that was the second book. Even though I really am dying (no pun intended) to read the third book now, I feel comfortable in the answers given in the very last page (where Kate is perhaps tortured the most) to the point that had the second book been the final book, I would have been fine with the way it ended. If that makes sense.
The best part about this question arc is that it helps prevent middle book syndrome. Even though “Catching Fire” suffered a teeny bit of that within the “Hunger Games” trilogy, by presenting the question of whether or not Katniss would be recalled to do another bout of the Games and creating a question arc, it more or less lessened the amount of middle book syndrome that happened in the story. Now that I think about it, many books that are at least a trilogy that don’t have middle book syndrome present a question/solution arc as the main arc of that middle book. There’s the answer to preventing the syndrome right there. And because of the good worldbuilding that Plum began in the first book, the rest of the technical details for this second book leave me with nothing to pick at.
There’s a lot of Big Reveals in this book that Plum hid so well that I definitely did NOT see coming at all when they hit. The languid/slow/lingering pace is sneaky that way – it hid the Big Reveals so well that you couldn’t see them coming round the bed. I’d never thought about using pacing that way before in a book when it comes to Big Reveals and making sure it really knocks the reader on their butt, but Plum has pleasantly surprised me with the use of pace within the book as a whole. But I think what my favorite part was the possibility that no, Kate and Vincent won’t be together forever – and may not even be together for her life time, period. Plum tortures the hell out of her characters in this book and it’s hard to watch/read, but the payoff is huge in the end as it reveals the mechanics of how everything ties back to the Big Reveals of the first book. Everything is so well-connected that I was quite surprised at how it all worked together in the end – most definitely a well-oiled engine within a book if I’ve ever seen one. With all of the tidbits of how the world of the revenants works and then ties into our own, it’s hard to put it all together so the reader understands it, but it’s even harder to make it work to tie it back into the previous book. I love it when authors aren’t afraid to torture their characters, and I love it even more that the payoff from that torture goes and connects all of the dots and answers many (if not nearly all) of the questions we had when we finished the first book. I take my hat off to you, Madame Plum, for that one.
Final verdict? If you loved the first book, you’ll love this one just as much if not more. It’s painful to read the more you’re invested within the world that Plum has created, but the payoff is well-worth it. “Until I Die” is out in stores May 8, 2012 (other places, check with your local bookseller), and I highly recommend this second installment. Definitely give it a read. But something I’ve noticed with a lot of the 2012 middle/second books? There really hasn’t been a middle book syndrome-riddled one out of the entire lot that I’ve read so far, and that’s always a happy thing. “Until I Die” is one of them so be sure to give it a chance.