Author: Jessica Martinez
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Published: October 7 2015
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Valentina Cruz no longer exists.I was intrigued by the title, the synopsis, and because I know how Jessica Martinez can write. Often it's passionately about art. Before it was of the musical kind, here, it's the seedy side of the art world that propels her novel. The plot may veer a little outlandish and require a certain level of suspension of disbelief but Kiss Kill Vanish is, on the whole, a twisty, moderately fast-paced, and memorable young adult thriller. It's an engaging book and one I had a hard time putting down once it took off, about 65 pages in for me.
One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.
She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.
She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.
I love the cover for this smart thriller; it's clever and artistic. It fits the story within pretty perfectly. Main character Valentina wishes how she felt about the things in her life was simple; black and white -- that she could just simply hate her father and not love Emilio. But life is made up of many shades, and when her view of the world explodes violently, Valentina has a lot to process emotionally. She's not a perfect character but she is self-aware, in shock, and trying to do better. In fact, her drive to do better, to fix what she can, save who she can, is what I liked the most about her.
Kiss Kill Vanish is a good read but it also feels a little long at 430 pages. The finale is a taaaad hard to believe -- both the scale, the relatively safe outcome, the lack of charges, etc for the people involved. It seemed a bit too easy compared to setup established for the hundreds of pages before. That said, I liked how the author left the epilogue and the characters. It was fitting and as believable as the climax was over the top.