Title: Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love
Authors: Michelle Zink, Diana Peterfreund, Karen Mahoney, Justine Musk, Sarah Rees Brennan, Becca Fitzpatrick, Caitlin Kittredge, Carrie Ryan, Michelle Rowen, Rachel Vincent, Daniel Marks, Maggie Stiefvater, Daniel Waters
Edited by: Trisha Telep
Pages: 430 pages
Publisher/Date: Running Press Teens, c2010.
**FULL DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book free from the publisher. If I get it back in good shape from the teen I’m lending it to, it will be added to my library’s collection. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review, and a positive review was not guaranteed.
“After death, mortal love lives on in the lover’s memory, a sweet, gentle reminder of the life-affirming splendor of everlasting devotion (aw…). But, is that it? Is that really love? A love that can…die? What kind of cruddy love is that?
Choose paranormal love and make your relationship last forever! I mean, shouldn’t all true loves be able to survive a reanimation…or two?” –Trisha Telep (7, Introduction)
Have you ever read a story that you initially were apathetic about, and then the book improved upon a second reading? This was that kind of book for me. Initially, I felt lost with a lot of the stories, because they’re set in worlds that are established and detailed in books that I haven’t yet read. “Dungeons of Langeais” by Becca Fitzpatrick bills itself as A Hush, Hush Story, “Errant” by Diana Peterfreund is set in the same world as Rampant, and “Many Happy Returns” by Daniel Waters is A Generation Dead Story. The only authors of this collection that I’d read previously were Daniel Waters (Generation Dead) and Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver).
That being said, I have a teen at my library who saw this book sitting on my desk and has been clamoring to read it ever since. So I decided that I’d better page through it a second time. It’s difficult to review a collection of short stories, and even more difficult when you like some of the stories better than others. It’s especially difficult when you’re not sure if reading the other works by those authors would have led to the short stories making more sense.
For instance, I thoroughly enjoyed Daniel Waters’ story about a father’s love for his daughter, and his coming to terms with her feelings of love towards a boyfriend. I liked the uniqueness and the idea behind Sarah Rees Brennan’s “The Spy Who Never Grew Up”, even though the main character has seemingly gone a little insane in his “old” age. “The Assassin’s Apprentice” by Michelle Zink moved along at such a clip that I was left wondering what exactly just happened. “Vermillion” is another story that, while I’m sure Daniel Marks meant well, I was never really sold on the setting or the story, although the characters were engaging and kept you guessing until the end. In contrast, “Behind the Red Door” by Caitlin Kittredge spans an entire six months, and builds suspense and tenson at a snail’s pace as it skims through the months, coming to a startling and fiery conclusion. Rachel Vincent’s “Fearless” will leave you with goosebumps and a fear of falling asleep at night, wondering what or who will be praying on your dreams when you do finally drift off to bed. The one with the best ending is Michelle Rowen’s “Familiars”, which has one character telling another “I feel the same as I did before [...] like I belong to you.” He smiled. “And that’s kind of hard to ignore.” (280) (Go ahead, you can say AWWWWWW, because I did.)
All in all, I think people familiar with the authors featured will get the most out of this compilation, but even people who aren’t familiar with any of them will ultimately find something they enjoy. Would I have recommended it after reading it just once? Probably not. But after seeing the teen’s reaction to just the cover, and flipping through them a second time, I recognize the teen appeal for the book. Just be prepared that at least one story will probably leave you scratching your head and asking yourself “What did I just read?”