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Valentina Cruz's pampered life as the daughter of a wealthy Colombian art dealer ends the minute she witnesses something she was never supposed to see—a murder ordered by her father and executed by her boyfriend. Sickened to her core, the 17-year-old flees Florida, ending up in Montreal. There, "Jane" lives in a rented closet, earning enough to live on by posing for a pretentious young painter and busking with her mandolin. Valentina's bare bones existence in Canada is a far cry from the glittering world she left behind, but it's a much more honest life than she's ever known before.
When a face from her past shows up in Montreal, Valentina doesn't know what to do. Should she return to Florida and face her father? Or keep running, knowing his henchman will never stop looking for her? After a shocking death rocks her world, Valentina must make some fast, life-altering decisions. With no one to turn to, she has to put her trust in the most unlikely of allies. Will the risk pay off? Can she save herself and those she loves? Or, is she walking right into a trap that will leave her as anyone else who dares to cross her father?
Kiss Kill Vanish, the newest novel from YA author Jessica Martinez, is an exciting, fast-paced thriller. Valentina's hard-scrabble battle to create an honest existence for herself makes her not just sympathetic, but also admirable. It's easy to root for her, even if she sometimes seems ridiculously naive. While I found the plot of Kiss Kill Vanish to be a *little* far-fetched, it definitely kept me engrossed. Martinez's vivid, engaging prose makes up for what the novel lacks in believability. Solid YA thrillers are difficult to come by, so, while this one has its flaws, it remains a rare and worthwhile read.
(Readalikes: Um, I can't really think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (no F-bombs), violence, depiction of illegal drug use, and sexual innuendo/references to sex