(Really Blue Books)
Though I would like to believe that I am not too far behind in the technological times, I must confess that I’ve been slow to adopt the humble eBook.
Something about the crispness of paper pages and their mysterious peanut butter stains (at least, I hope it's peanut butter!) has kept my nose buried in those old-school paperbacks.
But a few pages into Kiss Kill, Jeni Mawter’s transmedia novel, I could see it is clearly high time for me to move forward. Presenting stories told not only with text but with pictures,video and audio, books on screen open up possibilities that the Bronte sisters could’ve only dreamt of (though I think they spent most of their time dreaming of rolling moors and rugged country squires, anyway).
Kiss Kill begins as a tale of awkward teenage love from the perspective of senior-schooler Mat. Mat has developed a serious crush on the new girl, Elle, who isn’t afraid to give people a piece of her mind. After taking a number of measures to secure Elle’s affection, including some questionable hair removal (or "manscaping"), the exchange of toy caterpillars leads to the two getting together.
The relationship takes a turn for the worse when Elle starts behaving erratically, moving from hot to cold so quickly you’d think it was a Katy Perry song. As she becomes increasingly different from the girl that Mat fell for, and Mat’s family and friends become worried, the question is: what is he to do?
The novel is written in a patchwork style, moving quickly from character dialogue to English class poems, text messages to the random and comical musings of Mat’s mind. Combined, these elements work together to offer a believable depiction of his world. Even if lists are used a little repetitively, it is difficult to become disengaged.
Kiss Kill takes on some pretty heavy issues, like abuse and narcissism. Despite these darker themes, it manages to be funny throughout, finding the right balance of light and shade. One would expect no less from Mawter, who has previously penned a number of young adult chuckle prompters, including the So series (including So Gross!, So Feral! and So Sick!).
It seems that sometimes when a novel ends we aren’t ready to let go of the characters, which probably explains the thousands of Harry Potter fan fiction stories circulating the web (some of them creepier than others). Perhaps the most exciting thing about Kiss Kill is that after the last page, the story isn’t over.
Mat is kept alive through his blog, www.whyidontgetgirls.com (new window), and readers have already begun contributing, with one recording an awesome version of a song Mat writes lyrics for called "Gonna Show You". The blog also features a powerful YouTube clip of Mat’s reflection on manhood (new window), made by filmmaker Danny Kim and acted by Adam Marks and Lucy Coleman.
It is refreshing to have stories engage with us in different ways, and thrilling for them to evolve as time goes on. If they are entertaining enough to tear our eyes away from sneezing pandas, transmedia novels such as Kiss Kill seem bound to grow in popularity.
4 out of 5.
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