Die For Me by Amy Plum

Die For Me

Die For Me

Revenants are ugly scary creatures arisen form the dead… or are they! Set in Paris, this novel give Revenants the sexy treatment, dividing the ‘species’ (I suppose you could call them that) into good vs evil.

Kate’s world has been shaken up, turned upside down and transported from America (Brooklyn no less) to Paris in the space of just 3 short paragraphs. Her parents have died in a car accident and Kate and her older sister Georgia move to Paris to live with their Grandparents within days of the funeral. Kate is not coping. Not so much with the move as the two sisters have spent many months in the past visiting and living in Paris. The death of her parents has hit her hard and she is slowly withdrawing from the world around her. Only visiting the museums and reading her favourite books in some of the many cafes is keeping her remotely sane… until she see him.

Kate quickly becomes obsessed with Vincent, the devastatingly handsome guy who seems to pop up wherever she goes. She sees him everywhere – but more to the point, she starts to look for him everywhere. Of course they meet up and with some trepidation go on a ‘date’ of sorts. Kate witnesses a terrible accident where one of Vincent’s friends is killed and is then appalled by his lack of emotion… eventually to be told the truth – Vincent and his friends are no longer human. They are revenants, who spend their time rescuing people form death, often at the expense of their own lives… but then they rise form the dead and continue on!

I enjoyed this version of revenants – not zombified residents of horror movies, although once the bad guys kick into action, it is definitely not all roses and soft music! Kate is at first very torn by her reactions to watching Vincent and his friends die – having seen her own parents killed, the idea of watching her love and his friends die over and over again is not something she feels she can deal with! Eventually her need to be with Vincent overcomes her apprehension… but then the bad guys step up the drama, kidnapping, killing and threatening everything Kate holds dear!

I liked Kate. She is far from perfect and often spends days or even weeks arguing with herself and battling her depression. Vincent is flawed too. His own past experiences (he is nearly 100 years old) and present existence are not conducive to long term relationships! He often over or under-reacts and says or does the wrong thing only to turn around and prove just how romantic a city Paris can be! Definitely as tory for the romantics, but with quite a bit of blood, death and destruction in there as well!

Too Small to Fail by Morris Gleitzman

Too Small to Fail

Too Small to Fail

Oliver Newton’s parents own their own bank. They are rich and important people. They are very busy people. They are about to become victims of the Global Financial Crisis, taking many of their investors both small and large with them!

Oliver is a small, naive Year 5 boy who misses his parents and desperately wants their approval and attention. He also desperately wants a dog.

The story begins with Oliver, the boy who has every toy and gadget known to man mournfully trying to befriend a small dog (whom he has called Barclay) through the glass window of the local pet shop. Oliver is banned from entering the pet shop as the staff know he is not allowed to buy a dog. This is where Nancy steps in, buys the dog from under his nose, entices Oliver into her car and then threatens to kill the dog!

Nancy turns out to be one of the many housekeepers/nannies Oliver has been cared for over the course of his short life. She is also an investor with his parents’ bank who cannot now get her money and is in desperate need of assistance.

There is a lot of desperation going around in this book! Oliver’s parents are desperate to not lose everything, escape from their investors and in the case of Owen, Oliver’s Dad, start a new bank in Europe. Nancy and her daughter Rose are desperate to save their camels from dying of thirst by getting their investment money back from the Newtons and perhaps get a bit of closure for the death of Tim, Nancy’s husband. Hayden, who works at the bank desperately wants his new BMW. Erik desperately wants any money he can get by simply threatening to kill Barclay. The kid’s at Oliver’s exclusive school desperately want to double their money overnight… the list goes on.

There is a lot of desperation in this book and most of it revolves around money. Oliver’s simplistic and often misguided attempts to please everybody, help Nancy, rescue Barclay and impress his parents leave him further and further out of his depth and more and more stressed! Yet somehow, Oliver’s staunch belief in doing the right thing, no matter how difficult or how expensive eventually rubs off on Nancy, Rose and eventually his mother.

Right and wrong are rarely black and white, and as Oliver struggles to come to grips with Maths in general and his parents’ world of high finance in particular, the lines become even more blurred. Only Oliver seems to see the difference between greed and selfishness compared to compassion and selflessness. All his care is given to others.

Morris Gleitzman has produced a very topical book, at a time when many students struggle to understand the financial woes being reported around them. This book does not set out to explain or clarify the situation, but it does make it clear that it is the way we treat each other, not how much money we have that is important!