Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender (Review)

Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery
Publication.Date:September 24, 2013
Pages:294 (ARC)
Published By:  Scholastic Press
Website:Katie Alender 

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer on Goodreads
My review copy:ARC received from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.

"A scapegoat?" I suggested.
Jules's confused face was seriously cute. "A what kind of goat?"
"Scapegoat. It means...someone you blame when things aren't good."
"Then yes. She was a goat."
Beautiful didn't even begin to describe it. Without crowds of tourists, the room looked like it must have looked there hundred years ago...gorgeous, elegant, and transcendent.
My heartbeat echoes off my eardrums, and I could feel myself start to panic. Go, go, go. I had to concentrate to keep the bright flashes in my vision from tripping me up.
I wanted to fight back, but how do you fight a ghost?
It was true. I'd wanted Paris to change my life...I'd just had no idea how dramatic the change would be. And [he] was part of that, as the ghost had been.

     I'm not really sure what I was expecting when I read the synopsis. I guess I was picturing a hidden history of Marie Antoinette going around and murdering people, it being covered up by the monarchy, and now her ghost is back. However, Marie Antoinette herself doesn't really play a role in the novel. I mean she shows up to kill people, but the novel is focused on Colette. A mean girl whose only focus is on pleasing her rich snobby friend, Hannah. But we'll get to that in a minute.

     After noticing that an old family heirloom matches some of the designs from Versailles, Colette enlists the help of Audrey, a girl she could NEVER truly be friends with as she doesn't dress nice enough and isn't pretty enough - egads! - to figure out it's meaning. After stumbling upon the fact that it was the symbol of an old society meant to protect the queen (they did a great job, didn't they?), Colette and Audrey realize that all the murder victims have a connection.

      In the beginning of the novel, I could not stand Colette. She was snobby, cared far too much about looking French, and trying to impress/not piss of Hannah. She also cares so much about what people think that I couldn't find anything about her that I liked. She ignores people who are nice because they don't fit in and is slightly ashamed of herself for liking Jules because Hannah and Pilar don't approve. She did get better in the later half of of the novel, but it was a quick turnaround. I can see how it came about, but it is so rushed, it isn't really believable. I do like that she gets her act together, but I would have like to see more of this Colette and less of the bitch version.

      I also would have liked to see more of Audrey, though I understand why her character role was small. Audrey was that genuinely nice person that everybody - as long as they weren't an awful human being *cough*Hannah*cough* - could be friends with. She was sweet and willing to help Colette, despite her holier than thou attitude, but at the same time was able to stand up for herself when it was obvious Colette was just using her. Hannah was just a miserable character. She was the Queen Bee and had absolutely zero redeeming qualities. I liked Pilar, but fell bad for her because while she tries to speak up for Colette at times, Hannah is so overbearing and Pilar doesn't have enough self-esteem to really stand up to her.

     When it comes to the romance, I was rather fond of it. While I've seen better, and I've seen worse, Jules would be the guy I'd have my over-the-seas romance with, if I didn't have a boyfriend that is. He was sweet, caring, nice, smart, and cute. It isn't an insta-love and they aren't all over each other, it's a simple beginning stage of a relationship. I'm not overwhelmed by their relationship, nor was I underwhelmed. So really, give the circumstances, it was perfect.

     As much as I dislike beginning-of-the-novel Colette, she isn't bad as far as narrator goes. She does a good job of describing her surroundings and emotions. While I can't stand her strong desire to fit in with Hannah, I could understand her need and desire to fit in with her peers. Part of me sympathized with her more than I wanted to punch her. She is that typical teenage girl who is trying to get through high school, while dealing with her parents divorce and sudden loss of a high class lifestyle. She just happens to have the ghost of Marie Antoinette trying to kill her.

     There are a fair amount of cliches and I knew what was going to happen before it happened, but that's not to say this is a bad book. It was a quick read and Alender is a good writer. She did a nice job of showing me and not telling me, but the novel still felt debut. While I do wish there had been more substance to the story itself and some of our characters, I enjoyed reading it.

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