Title: Die forMe
Series: Killing Eve # 3
Author: Luke Jennings
This review is about the “Killing Eve” books, not the BBC adaptation. I’ve also written a “Book Adaptation” post where I compare how the books and TV-series tie together, you can find it HERE.
On the run together, Eve Polastri and the psychopathic Villanelle take refuge in the underworld of St Petersburg. But the Twelve are closing in, as are the Russian security services. As the chess-game intensifies, and the grip of winter tightens, the couple are drawn into a nightmare realm of conspiracy and murder.
Die For Me is a fast-paced, sophisticated thriller but also a poignant tale of love and erotic obsession. As the action races towards its shattering conclusion, can Eve and Villanelle learn to fully trust each other or will their differences destroy them?
There are times I wish it were forbidden to adapt a story before it’s finished. That an author should be allowed to complete their story in peace before other writers begin to change it to fit a new medium.
Like we’ve seen with Games of Thrones and now Killing Eve, at some point, the TV-series takes on a life of its own. When that happens, the author’s creation is overtaken and outrun by the adaptation. It’s rarely a good thing.
Die For Me is the last book in Luke Jennings trilogy about the assassin Villanelle and the woman chasing her, Eve Polastri.
The previous book, No Tomorrow, ended with a huge plot twist that revealed Eve’s whole mission to capture Villanelle as a set-up. She’s not been working for the MI6, but for a double agent of The Twelve.
On the run, Eve is now in Villanelles world. In this new situation, these two women give in to the obsession and attraction that has been building between them.
I’ve been looking forward to Die for Me. I’ve had it pre-ordered for months, and as soon as it was available, I read it in one sitting.
Expectations can be dangerous; the possibility of disappointment is always high when you’ve spent a year waiting for something.
There’s no point beating around the bush; I was really disappointed.
If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll know I don’t generally review books I didn’t enjoy. But, since I’ve reviewed the previous book, featured this series in my favorite reads of 2019 and made a whole post about the TV-series, I feel like I want to complete the journey.
Die for Me and I got off on the wrong foot from the start.
In Die for me, Luke Jennings has switched from writing in a third-person to a first-person perspective. I don’t like first-person storytelling; I don’t enjoy the forced intimacy, and the characters often come off as whiny.
From the beginning, I desperately missed the cool, slightly detached style from the previous books. I also longed for Villanelles POV; this book is told entirely from Eve’s first-person perspective. It doesn’t work.
To be brutally honest, this book felt like fan-service.
And not for fans of the book series, but the TV adaptation, Killing Eve. The Villanelle and Eve we’ve gotten to know in the previous two installments are gone.
Villanelle, who was sleek, elegant, efficient, domineering, and utterly in control, is unrecognizable. I feel like this change is somehow there to make her more like the Villanelle from the TV-series, more impulsive and eccentric, a whimsical psychopath.
Eve, who’s been smart, witty, and competent, has been reduced to a needy, insecure girlfriend.
It’s not a good look for either of them.
Taking a step back from my discontent, I think Die for Me, is a book that will divide readers. You’ll either love it, or you’ll be disappointed. It all depends on what you were expecting and how you want the story to end.
If you want a love story with a happy but entirely unrealistic ending, you’ll love it.
I was expecting this story to be much darker, more morally complex, and classy. I fully anticipated a relationship drama; that Villanelle and Eve would fall into a dysfunctional relationship.
But, I thought I was going to see Villanelle drag Eve down the obsessive, dark path she’d started on. That’s not what this book is.
The previous two books have been so good at subverting female cliches and allowing these women to be imperfect without any moral pointers or commentary about their character.
This book felt different. It traps Eve in a standardized mold about what “women are like” in relationships. While also forcing Villanelle into a role that feels entirely out of character for her.
I feel like the cliffhanger at the end of the No Tomorrow left Eve mentally, emotionally, and morally balancing on the edge of the abyss. I was expecting Jennings to throw her into it. He didn’t.
Some people are going to love the choices he made. I feel like he chose the easy way out.
Instead of being forced to tie up loose plot threads, explain The Twelve, and truly examine what a relationship would look like between these flawed women, he turned it into a romance novel.
It’s not horrible; it’s not even bad. I listened to the whole book in one sitting, and I didn’t dislike it so much I couldn’t or didn’t want to finish.
It has some good points and funny moments. It’s a decent book. It’s just that, compared to the other two, it feels out of place.
The whole book feels like Jennings threw his original idea out the window and just wanted to get this book over and done with.
It’s such a shame because he’s a great author.
I wish he had been allowed to finish this trilogy before they began making Killing Eve. Maybe this was his plan all along, perhaps this book really was his endgame, but I have a tough time reconciling with that thought.
I’m honestly more bewildered than disappointed. I can’t wrap my head around this book being written by the same person. It’s like a mediocre YA romance author stepped in to ghostwrite this book. They’re that different.
Writing this review has been a challenge, partly because I don’t like talking down a book but, mostly because I feel so conflicted. Judging by other people’s reviews and ratings, I’m not the only one who feels that way.
The most common rating seems to be either five stars or one star. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between, you’ll love this book, or you’ll feel gravely disappointed.
If you’re a “love conquers all” type of person, who wants a happy ending for Eve and Villanelle, no matter how out of character it is compared to the previous books, Die for me will give you what you want.
If you loved the previous books for their elegant, crisp style and enjoyed reading about two complex women who were irrecoverably drawn to one another even though you could tell it would lead to a disaster, you will be disappointed.
I can’t recommend this book. I think it’s better to stop reading this series after the second book and make up your own ending. Because the conclusion this book offers to the story of Villanelle and Eve is not only unbelievable, it’s silly.