“Book Review: Die the Villain”
Reviewed by Robyn-Lee Samuels
A modern romance filled with love, betrayal, and a touch of spy-thrilling action
C.P. Serret’s debut contemporary noir, Die the Villain, blends cyber espionage with Gossip Girl-esque glitz and glamour.
The novel follows 20-something Criss Finn after he returns to the USA from Japan. Finn, a Cuban-American, works as an undercover consultant who secretly does work-for-hire on the dark web. His life takes a turn from the shadows into the limelight when he meets Chloe and soon finds his dark web team missing.
Set in the college bar scene, Finn and his new friends go to parties, soirees, and coffee shops. Contemporary and new adult readers will appreciate the makeovers, romances, weddings, jealousy, secrets, and lies running rampant throughout the story.
For those expecting snipers and a protagonist laying-low from an enemy, you may come up short on action. I kept waiting for the thrills to start and for Finn to go on the run, but once I put away my expectations from the noir genre and dove deep into the characters, I realized that Die the Villain is just not that type of story—and it doesn’t have to be. I enjoyed the developing love stories, the interpersonal dynamics, and Finn’s growth journey just as much as I would have if I got the spy-noir I was expecting. Instead, I discovered a non-traditional romance with an eclectic cast that navigates their identity, sexuality, young adulthood, and celebrity lifestyle. In the end, it’s a good contemporary novel that touches on several immersive cultural themes.
Die the Villain has a diverse cast with transgender and strong female characters, including Finn’s love interests in Chloe and Taylor. C.P. Serret highlights the tensions, joys, and struggles faced by transgender individuals by showing how different characters interact with Finn. From ones who encourage Finn to dress like his birth gender and deadname him to other characters who embrace Finn as he is, there are several moments in the novel that address biases and allow readers to start conversations and enhance their understanding of gender fluidity.
Although Die the Villain has a cyber-crime element, readers probably shouldn’t go into it expecting a hard-hitting spy-thriller. But you can go into it expecting a smart and complex contemporary novel. Scenes with multiple characters may require a bit more attention, but this often adds layers to the reading experience that we couldn’t have found without it. Some of the formatting choices, like the use of blackout, take the novel from a good story to one with impressive execution and a cryptic and intriguing atmosphere.
The dialogue is witty and uses a range of cultural references, phrases, and at times, sayings in several languages. Die the Villain is a modern noir romance with a range of platonic and romantic relationships for readers to appreciate.
Genre: LGBTQ+ Contemporary / Thriller
Print Length: 256 pages
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