Kiss, Kill, Love Him Still by Jamie Blair & Dawn Rae Miller
(Kiss, Kill, Love Him Still #1)
Published: November 10th, 2015 by Self-Published
Genres: Contemporary, new adult, mystery
Trigger Warnings: murder (duh), drug use, sex, jail/prison, drug overdosing
Pages: 170 pgs on Kindle/iBooks
**I got a copy of this book free from the publisher & Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.**
Jackson Landis kept secrets. It’s how he got girls into bed, the grades he wanted, and a reputation for being the life of the party.
But now he’s dead, and no one knows how or why. Especially not the four girls whose secrets he protected. Secrets so scandalous they could cause each girl to lose something valuable. Secrets so dark, someone may have killed for them.
The four girls – a campus drug dealer, an overweight bookworm, a closeted lesbian, and a spoiled princess have one thing in common – they’re terrified the things Jackson knew may not have died with him. As Reggie, Haddie, Val, and Livie try to piece together her own role in Jackson’s death, each girl realizes Jackson had some not-so-pretty skeletons of his own.
Which makes a girl wonder, who really wanted Jackson Landis dead?
Murder. Mistresses. Secrets. Of course, these are the elements that usually make up your average mystery novel, no matter the target demographic. However, what the authors do with these basic building blocks can really make or break the success of the book. We all know this, but, you know, it really says something about the quality of the book when a reviewer sits on a completed book for about a month and a half before they can finally muster up the words necessary to sharing their feelings on what they’ve read.
Kiss, Kill, Love Him Still follows the immediate aftermath of a small college campus following the death of a prominent student and wannabe lothario, Jackson Landis. Immediately thrust into the fray are four young women — Reggie, Val, Livie, and Haddie — who were tangentially related to him in life, so of course, logic states that they must have something to do with his death. Alliances are formed across the young women, but are they really in it to find out what happened to Jackson, or are they really wanting to make sure their secrets stay hidden?
One thing I can say about this book is that it was a quick read. I read through the book in about two days on rides back and forth to work on the Metro. If you’re honestly looking for a easy, swift read to help boost your Goodreads reading challenge numbers, this may be the one for you. If you want something that’s actually going to engage and challenge you, you may want to skip it. This was not a page turner in the traditional sense where I just desperately needed to solve the mystery, but one in which I was often left wondering when there was actually something at stake for the characters involved. Spoiler alert: I had to start this book twice, as I put it down for a week or so for Order of the Phoenix, and could not, for the life of me, remember what happened previously based on where I picked up.
Plot issues aside, I found the four main characters to be almost indistinguishable in both physical description and personality, with the exception of “homely” Hattie, who just happens to have a few extra pounds on her body than the other three main characters. They’re all the same kind of cookie-cutter, shallow, bitchy stereotypical female character that is almost downright offensive. The only other thing that’s supposed to serve as a distinguishing factor between the four young women is the individual secret they all harbor; however, that’s not really helpful, as it then reduces them down to “that klepto girl,””the druggie girl,” and so forth.
I also just want to vent about the problematic nature of Hattie’s portrayal. Because she’s “the fat girl,” “the plain girl,” she’s dismissed by the other three as far less threatening, just as more full-figured women are in real life. While, granted, she does at least prove herself as being the most dangerous one of all in terms of her resourcefulness, the other characters in the book seem almost insulted by her mere tangential presence in their social circle. Furthermore, despite being a book about four young women, it barely passes the Bechdel test, as roughly 90% of all of their conversations center around Jackson and his role in their lives. Granted, they are trying to solve his murder, but one would hope that this would also provide ample opportunity for the women to actually get to know one another to work like a team.
There have been a few instances of books written by multiple authors that are successful in telling their story cohesively, despite writing from opposing voices. (Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan comes to mind.) However, this is not once of those times. The writing between Blair and Miller often comes off as disjointed, which contributes to the poor character choices. While, yes, they do write from the perspectives of four different characters, again, the characters are so wildly similar that it seems like it was a deliberate choice as to make transitioning between the authors easier. However, because their individual writing styles don’t mesh well together, it makes the overall reading experience kind of infuriating.
Truth be told, I just feel pretty let down by this book overall. I had a lot of high hopes for it when I originally requested it from Netgalley, especially after hosting a book blitz one day with Xpresso Book Tours before obtaining a copy. However, with poor characterization, an ultimately boring plot, and deeply flawed execution between two authors, I just found myself bored and confused. What a weird state of mind to be in.
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