Author: Sarah Cross
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Reading Level: Young Adult (Mature)
Pages: 336 (ARC)
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.
Disclaimer: This is not a review of the entire book. I made it to page 73, so this is a review of a little less than 1/4 of the book.
This review will contain spoilers and my own guesses that may or may not ruin the rest of the book. There's no way around it because I want to exemplify the struggles I had with this main character. If you do not like spoilers, please don't read this review. This is not my normal way of writing reviews, but since my blog is a place to record my thoughts I wanted to be honest with my reasoning. ;)
I knew going into this book that this story was going to be disturbing. Look at the cover with the bloody rose, the thorns, the title itself. But I wasn't expecting it to have such an annoying main character. So I couldn't get far enough to the creepiness that is KILL ME SOFTLY, though I think I can pretty much infer what will happen. As a fairytale re-telling that pretty much takes from the Grimm's versions of fairytales and not the Disney versions, things are bound to get super twisted.
But, in all honesty, the main character Mirabelle (also known as Bella and Mira) frustrated me so immensely that I could not even bother with this one. Main characters can truly make or break a book and it's very rare that I find a character who gets on my nerves as much as Mira managed to 23% into her own story. This girl lacks common sense. That's all there is to it. A lack of common sense made her so frustrating that I just gave up.
I totally get the entire running away from your Godmother's because they're keeping secrets and you want to know about your deceased parents thing. Makes sense in a way and could equal a really interesting story. But while detailing her planning of the trip and executing it in the first few pages of the book, Mirabelle inadvertently brags of her intelligence. I also want to mention the fact that she is not yet 16. This is a week before her 16th birthday so she is still 15. Just want to get that out there while I explain some things that take place in this book.
Upon her arrival in Beau Rivage, Mira has no idea what to do. She's too young to check into a hotel, she didn't call ahead to reserve one. Nothing. She decides to either commandeer a table in a cafe for three hours at a time or to sleep under a tree because she has no common sense or preparatory planning skills. Then she gets warned by this kid named Blue who has blue hair and piercings and all that fun stuff not to listen to his older brother who runs the establishment that she's currently trying to hole up in. She ignores him and somehow runs into this older brother (who is a sinister 21 years old) and he puts her in a room free of charge and promises to help her out and help her look for a parents. I don't know about you, but this is all weird to me. This does not happen in real life.
The next morning the Blue kid breaks down her door (literally!) and practically kidnaps her to get her away from his brother (even though his actions are super extreme). She goes because she doesn't have a choice, but runs back into the brother's arms when she has a chance. She's so enraptured by this mesmerizing 21 year old that she suddenly imagines having her first kiss and a bunch of other stuff with him without even knowing him for twenty four hours. Insta-love at its finest.
The apparent bad-guy older brother allows Mira to stay in his room while he's out doing business and Blue finds her yet again and tries to get her out. She refuses and the older brother comes back and convinces Blue to leave and convinces Mira to stay over night in his own room. Mira, the girl who has common sense. Mira, the young 15 year old girl who has common sense. Mira, the young 15 year old girl who supposedly has common sense says yes! And then she decides to sleep in the same bed as him. No words.
But when she chooses to sleep in the same bed as him, she totally must not think anything is going to happen because she feels uncomfortable all of the sudden. Well, he comes back into the room shirtless and plays with the skin on her hip a little and goes in for the kiss (which is not surprising at all, but is super surprising to her) and she freaks out and says no. When you accept an invitation to sleep in the same bed as a guy who you met the prior day, it sort of communicates the message that you're going to do something other than pass out together. But intelligent Mira can't put two and two together. Eventually, he just cuddles her and they pass out.
When she wakes up she is more concerned that he saw her back and her odd birthmark because her shirt was ridden up slightly than the fact that she just slept in the same bed with a man who was more than 6 years older than her who clearly was sexually attracted to her and was saying such cute things like "I didn't think you liked me this way" because he wanted her. Face it, 16+ year old guys don't even say stuff like that. Obviously, someone wanting someone with such a huge age gap at this stage in their lives is inappropriate and she should hightail it out of there, but she doesn't.
And that's where I left off. I couldn't deal with it. I had an inkling about where this story was going and I didn't want to deal with Mira bragging about her intelligence only to turn around and do stupid things anymore.
All characters we met in this story were reminiscent of famous characters physically and personality-wise. There was a Beast, there was his reluctant Beauty, a Snow White who loved apples and a Prince Charming who attracted the animals. And of course, the guy who had a kick for damsels in distress.
All of these Grimm fairytales were beginning to be weaved in the first fourth of the book. My prediction is that they clash since everyone in Beau Rivage is cursed to live out whatever fairytale is theirs (though I think that has something to do with birthmarks, but I don't care to get far enough to learn more). And with that thought in mind, I quit the book. I don't know many Grimm fairytales, but I happen to know a little about the Grimm's version of Sleeping Beauty. And it was very clear from the first page of this book that Mirabelle was our new Sleeping Beauty. Anyone see the Disney movie where the Godmothers were cleaning the house and they used magic to change the color of her dress? The opening scene was that except the green fairy did not exist and they were fighting over the color of a cake without using magic. So, yes, she is our Sleeping Beauty. And in the Grimm's tale Sleeping Beauty gets raped, not kissed and awoken, by the Prince. After seeing her stupidity explained in the last few examples above, this doesn't surprise me. While such a scene probably doesn't happen until near the end of the book, it's almost like she was asking for it. And I'm not saying I support such terrible torturous actions. I don't. But if you think about this fairytale and assume that this is probably going to happen and you see this naive little girl throw herself in front of a wicked, experienced guy who admittedly has a thing for damsels in distress while deciding to inadvertently play hard to get because she has no common sense, he may get sick of her young little games and take what he wants to be his. It sucks, I hate it, I'm so happy this is not real life, but it's a realistic plot for a twisted fairytale story that takes all plot ideas from the original Grimm fairytales.
Do I know if this really happens in KILL ME SOFTLY? I don't! I didn't read anything past page 73 and for all I know, it doesn't happen at all. But I got the twisted, creepy vibe from the story and I know enough background knowledge to comfortably guess what was going to happen. Having such a naive main character almost set up the plot above that I guessed about. And with that in mind, I didn't have a desire to read anymore. This girl is going to get herself into trouble from naivety and her new peers in Beau Rivage are going to go through some creepy stories alongside her (Cinderella's stepsisters chopping off their toes to fit into the Prince's glass slipper, anyone?) and it didn't catch my interest enough to want to continue when I can logically guess the progression of the book.
Whether this does or does not happen will be something I never learn nor think about again.
With that being said, I highly suggest this book to people who enjoy the original Grimm's fairytales or creepy stories in general. Face it, all fairytales have weird little aspects that we wouldn't agree with, but this book and I just weren't meant to be. What interested many others was somewhat predictable and laborious for me. While Cross has a very promising writing style and I'm curious to see what else she has in store for us, I didn't care enough to continue this one, though I sincerely hope that many other people
and my March Fantasy Month partner do not agree with me. According to Goodreads, 87% of people who read this book enjoyed it. I seem to be the black sheep.