Discussion Review: Vivian Divine Is Dead

Vivian Divine is Dead
by Lauren Sabel
Series: Standalone
Released on: June 3rd, 2014
Published by: Katherine Tegen
Rating: 1.5 stars
Word rating:
Reviewed by: Mel and Blythe

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Filled with surprising twists and poignant moments, Lauren Sabel brings a fresh new voice to contemporary fiction with Vivian Divine Is Dead. Creepy, clever, funny, and romantic.

When a death threat arrives with teen celebrity Vivian Divine's fan mail, Vivian has no choice but to go on the run to Mexico. She soon discovers, though, that her Oscar-nominated performance killing villains on-screen did nothing to prepare her for escaping a madman in real life. Some people say he's a hero, others tremble in his presence, but one thing is clear: he won't stop until Vivian is in his grasp. Why didn't she pay more attention during those judo lessons for her role in Zombie Killer?

Vivian finds an ally in the mysterious and charming Nick. He is everything Hollywood boys are not-genuine, kind, and determined to see Vivian for who she really is. But even he seems like he can't be trusted-what could he be hiding?

Beat up, hungry, and more confused than ever about who she's running from, Vivian is living in a real-life blockbuster horror flick. But there's no option to yell "cut" like there is on set....

Lauren Sabel's Vivian Divine Is Dead is a creepy, witty, fast-paced adventure about family, fame, and having the courage to save yourself.

Blythe: More like Vivian Divine is Dead ON ARRIVAL, amirite?! *ahem* So basically, this book is a huge hot mess. Like, me trying to make a dinner hot mess, but such that every time I make a mistake I react like a woman in a Spanish soap opera. That kind of hot mess.

Mel: Yeah, I cannot think of much that I actually enjoyed about this book. And if I ever did, the unmemorable-ness of it made me forget.

Blythe: IT WAS SO FORGETTABLE. Honestly, right now we're discussing this a few days after finishing the novel, and I am having trouble brainstorming what exactly went on. But okay. The sole positive thing I can say about Vivian Divine is Dead is that, for some of the beginning, I found myself entertained. 

Mel: I did wonder for a few minutes why I saw so many one star reviews from trusted friends in the beginning, but then Chapter 2 onwards it just went downhill quickly.

Blythe: Yeah, and I was going to say that the plot was original, but in the end that didn't really work out too well in its favor, I think.

Mel: Nope. It's one of those books that just get worse and worse as it goes. 

Blythe: Absolutely. Not to mention that, for all its originality, I was able to pen down nearly every single twist throughout the novel. Even though I shouldn't say throughout, since for about 200 pages we're strung along with little answers, and in the final 50 pages we're given several twists and shoddy executions for each.

Mel: I couldn't see the big twist coming, but the last few chapters made me want to laugh because it was just so terribly absurd.  It felt like a joke, this book. 

Blythe: I'd say most of the novel is like that, but especially the last few chapters. Also absurd is Vivian and her (attempted) character development. 

Mel: Oh god, I absolutely hated Vivian. She was not only a spoiled brat, but an idiot. 

Blythe: Right? Like, I'm still trying to wrap my head around her character and how?: she's a spoiled brat for literally 90%, maybe 95% of the novel, but then by the end she's made out to be like a changed person? I kind of see what the author was trying to do with her character, but it definitely didn't work for me. 

Mel: I know! And every time she was in trouble, there was someone who was there to help her out of it.

Blythe: It's such a shame, too, because I felt like it all could have been really interesting; a spoiled movie star placed in a life-threatening situation has a lot of potential for development, but in here that potential was not met because she never made much of an attempt to either grow as a person or save herself. And WHAT IS WITH THE SYNOPSIS? This book is not about "having the courage to save yourself"; if anything, it's about having the lack thereof to have others save you.

Mel: LIES. THE SYNOPSIS IS ALL LIES. And of course, her love interest did most of her saving. According to Vivian, he's the sexiest guy ever and has longer eyelashes than her which is totally unfair!

Blythe: Yup, THE SEXIEST GUY SHE'S EVER SEEN. First boy she sees in Mexico, and bam, sexiest one she's seen in her life.

Mel: And because of this she doesn't worry if he's some murderer and follows him. 

Blythe: Mel, hot people can't be murderers. 

Mel: But also, MEXICO. 

Blythe: I KNOW. MEXICO. Vivian's bodyguard finds out that there is a killer after Vivian, and is all "omg no so dangerous a killer is after you! You know what I'm going to do? I'M GOING TO DYE YOUR HAIR AND SEND YOU TO MEXICO ALONE WITH ONLY A CELL PHONE. BE SAFE. DON'T GET KILLED."

Mel: OMG ugh. Like if she's such a popular movie star, why the heck would her bodyguard just ditch her?

Blythe: Worst bodyguard of the year.

Mel: Like if she's such a popular movie star, why the heck would her bodyguard just ditch her?

Blythe: Because she dyed her hair and gave her color contacts. Shh, it's the perfect disguise. So chic. So now. So Hannah Montana. 

Mel: I was surprised no random person recognized her. 

Blythe: Considering the unbelievable things that go on in this novel, it was fitting that no one did recognize her.

Mel: Nearly nothing here is logical or realistic. 

Blythe: Honestly, absolutely nothing. And I get that's the appeal for the novel, but it gets so tiring after a while. And it's only 250 pages! I shouldn't be so worn out by such a short novel! 

Mel: Whoa,  really? I thought it was longer than that because it FELT longer than that.

Blythe: Right? And the plot doesn't help, since for most of the novel is really just running around, Vivian hearing Spanish, Vivian reminding us she doesn't know any Spanish (she was confused about what familia meant), and then action in the last quarter. But of course, the action is described to us like this: 

It happens like this: I slam my knee between his legs. The knife clatters to the floor. Paloma gasps. I shove the door open and burst onto the stage. Everything stops.


Mel: Plus, the plot feels like a soap opera: it's overly dramatic and goes nowhere.

Blythe: It is absolutely a Spanish soap opera. And maybe that was the intention, but that doesn't make it enjoyable. With every twist I half expected the characters to each look at a different camera with wide eyes and gasp.

Mel: And the romance was clearly no better.

Blythe: I do not understand the romance one bit.

Mel: It's so terrible, and she is always comparing the love interest to her ex, Pierre.

Blythe: YES. Ugh, so annoying. It's like the author couldn't make Nick's merits stand on their own because they weren't enough to build a likable character or love interest around, so she compared his characteristics to an awful person's to make him look like some Jesus love interest. 

And as a side note, his name is Pierre; don't act all surprised when he turns out to be a douche.

Mel: YES. Unfortunately so true. 

Blythe: Right? Not to mention the relationship is given little development (there's a theme here), so when stuff like this is thrown around:

"When I met you on the bus, I thought you were just another rich American. But you're not. You're . . . different."


Mel: Oh, yes! Romance quotes! *rubs hands together*

"I feel like there's a cut straight through his soul, and I'm looking into it. I see your soul, I want to say, but I bite my tongue, and hope he sees mine."


"You may be all gristle, but you're pretty and kind and, um . . . a good listener, too." 

Just saying, but you don't love someone if all you can say about them is that they're pretty, kind, and a good listener. Least of all when you have to hesitate to come up with a third thing, and of those three things, two are false and the other is superficial. 

Mel: At least he didn't say smart or witty, because she's far from it. AND ALSO:

"What do you see?" "Something even better," Nick says, looking right at me.

Blythe: "That tree behind you. Gorgeous."

Mel: I would definitely prefer the tree over Vivian any day. 

Blythe: Vivian Treevine is Dead.


  1. Wow, this sounds BAD. I have the arc and can't be bothered to pick it up after seeing all the bad reviews. I love the cover but that's obviously not enough :-) The quotes you gals chose are so horrible!

  2. I'm so glad I did not request this one. I usually find some of the unpopular books entertaining but I don't think there's anyway that I can enjoy this one. Thanks for the honest review!

  3. Oh god this sounds so terrible. I have to admit, the whole blogosphere seems to think it's a bundle of wtf. I don't think I've seen one positive review of it so far!
    HAHAHA the Pierre thing, god it's so true.


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