Review: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie AlenderMarie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender
Published by Scholastic on September 24, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central

Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.

By the time I actually sat down to read this book, I was dreading it, because I’d heard various reports from trusted reviewers of how terrible it was. Now, I didn’t actually read the reviews, and I don’t know if they were DNFs or what, but, despite a rocky beginning, I actually liked Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer. Certainly it’s not a brilliant or mind-blowing book, but it’s fun, has a good character arc, and an actually likable love interest.

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer starts off a bit rockily, and I feared that I would have to hate Colette, the main character. At the outset, she’s vapid, selfish, rude, and hangs out with girls she dislikes just to be popular. She also does that whole “I’m pretty, but not that pretty” thing, when later everyone’s super impressed with how she looks. However, if you push through that, Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is the sort of book where the heroine actually learns something. By the end of the book, she is a changed, more likable person, which made her early behavior easier to stomach. Also, I liked that Alender showed where Colette’s skewed values came from, by digging into her relationship with her father.

Colette and her supposed besties, Pilar and Hannah, are going on a class trip to Paris. During the trip, their friendship is seriously tested, both by the amount of time they have to spend together and by the fact that the murder mystery thing gives Colette something more important to focus on than popularity. The trip takes place over the course of nine days and is a pretty believable class trip, with a busy schedule, a bit of free time, and also some sneaking out, because teenagers.

While out and about touring, Colette discovers that she greatly resembles a woman in historical paintings. There’s also her medallion that has a key and Marie Antoinette’s emblem. Then there’s the series of bodies found beheaded and the ghost of a woman in historical garb that’s been following her around. The pseudo-historical element is rather silly, but it’s meant to be. Either you can accept that and enjoy it or you can’t. What I liked best about this aspect was that Alender did a fairly balanced portrayal of Marie Antoinette. She references that the “Let them eat cake” line truthfully never happened and cites Marie Antoinette’s love of her children. Marie Antoinette tends to get a really bad reputation in pop culture, and there are reasons for that too, but I thought it was nice that Alender showed both the good and the bad.

There’s a little romance that happens too. Initially, it seems that Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is going to have a really obnoxious love triangle, but it actually doesn’t. Colette starts up a little flirtation with the college-aged tour guide Jules. I love two things about this. First, Jules isn’t insanely gorgeous; he’s cute but not someone you’d immediately make note of if you passed him on the street. Second, they didn’t fall in love in nine days. They had a totally realistic romance while she was in Paris. When I went on college trips abroad, several people had brief flings in the cities we stayed in for longer periods of time, and none of them ended in something long-lasting.

Still, the plotting is a bit contrived, and I never really bought into the vengeful, murderous ghost thing. Partly, it’s because this isn’t a horror novel, and I knew there was no chance that Colette was ever going to bite the dust. There were also several instances where Colette was rather boneheaded. For instance, it took her far too long to put together the connection between the murders, which she could easily have figured out earlier. Then there’s that time when, though she’s on a trip to Paris, which is purportedly to help her with her French, where she asks Jules how to say “No” in French. *headdesks* This is even more frustrating, since she’d already exhibited that, though not good at French, she did know some words and “non” is basically as easy as it gets.

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is a light, entertaining contemporary novel with a head-chopping historical twist. It’s a quick fluffy read, full of gowns, backstabbing and mysterious secrets of the past.

Tl;dr – Book in a GIFfy:

I did like this, but the Marie Antoinette part was O_o

I did like this, but the Marie Antoinette part was O_o

4 responses to “Review: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender”

  1. fakesteph says:

    Hmmm… I’m more apt to read this now, but I still don’t think it is for me. Maybe asking how to say no in French was a joke…?
    fakesteph recently posted…Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren MorrillMy Profile

  2. I read this back in September, so I’m a little hazy on some of the details but I remember being a bit disappointed. I thought the premise sounded amazing but was left wanting more, especially in terms on Marie Antoinette.

    I also have to agree that the relationship between Colette and Jules. I thought it was so cute and so perfect.

    I found it a bit hard to connect with Colette. First because she seemed like a vapid (not to steal your word) little thing and only cared about appearance/popularity. I did love when Audrey put Colette in her place.
    Andrea @ Bookish recently posted…The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams (Review)My Profile

  3. I haven’t been paying attention to the reviews for this one, but I do have a copy and now I’m a little more nervous to read it! While Colette undergoes some serious character development, I’d seriously hate her attitude in the beginning since she really just cares about popularity.
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…Mini Review: Better off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergMy Profile

  4. I do enjoy gowns, not gonna lie.

    I think the only review of this that I’ve read is Allison’s and she liked it okay, like you.

    I still have this in my stack but I think that I am not really going to make it a huge priority. If I get to it, fine I won’t dread it, but if I don’t that’s okay too. Just, lol the whole HOW DO YOU SAY NO IN FRENCH thing, is what makes me hesitate.
    April Books & Wine recently posted…End Times by Anna Schumacher | Book ReviewMy Profile

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