Book Review: What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

Posted February 27, 2022 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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What Kills Me

What Kills Me

by Wynne Channing

Series: What Kills Me #1
Publisher: Jet & Jack Press on June 6, 2012
Genre: Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Content Warnings: Blood, Car Accident, Child Death, Death, Death of Parent, Violence

Rating: ★½

Check out this book on Goodreads or buy the book at Bookshop.org

An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race.

So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive.

How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?


What Kills Me encompasses everything we loved about vampire books in the mid-2000s, and everything we are now super embarrassed about. Is it enjoyable? Sure, if you’re here for the instalove and a protagonist of incredible power that never wanted this to begin with. What Kills Me is all tropes and no substance. It’s good for a certain kind of read, but it’s not a book you’re going to remember after you’re done reading.

I know that sounds a bit harsh, but it’s the genre. Teenage vampire love story in the style of Stephanie Meyer – you can only expect a certain amount of greatness. It fills that hole where you want something ridiculous but tempting and exciting, I guess. As a reader, I have a very difficult time with books that completely bypass any attempt to remain realistic in favor of creating what the author considers an exciting story. So, for me, What Kills Me was not a great read.

If I’m being honest, the title is even frustrating me as I’m trying to write this review. I just want to keep saying “what kills me about this book“, but that’s the actual title. What kills me about What Kills Me is that there’s no substance to it, the characters are flat as pancakes, and just for once can we try to do a well-rounded vampire story that’s not all about falling madly in love and being converted, not necessarily in that order? If you enjoy the style of book, in the rush of Twilight wannabes from a decade ago, then you’ll like What Kills Me just fine. It entertains enough for lovers of the genre.

Three things that I can’t get past: Axelia, Lucas, and the author’s research. Let’s start with our protagonist. Axelia’s journey is one too many coincidences. The way her progression is set up is so uncomfortably regimented that she feels less like a character in this world, and more like a puppet at the author’s fingertips. The magic of a good book is that we can’t tell the characters are puppets – they feel so real. Her demeanor really irked me as well. Call me jaded, but I have pretty limited tolerance for a “chosen one” protagonist who gets all of the breaks and none of the struggles. If anything, I start to root against them.

Now let’s talk about Lucas. It would’ve been awfully nice for Channing to have given the love interest just a little bit of personality. It’s a bit like watching those old Disney animated films, where Prince Charming comes in to save the day, but he has about as much personality as an old sock. Disney’s princes got better, and I expect the same from my books, thank you very much. The progression of his relationship with Axelia makes absolutely no sense, as everything that happens between them should really drive them apart instead of together. Once again, an instance of fitting a genre rather than writing a good book.

Finally, the research.

Listen, I know if you’re trying just to write a semi-decent paranormal romance, you’re probably not thinking about researching your setting too much. Still, I’ve never even been to Italy, and even I could tell some of the details were completely invented. This may be a bit unfair, but all of the settings in the book felt like they were plucked from sappy romance films or romcoms. Distances didn’t make any sense, food choices didn’t fit in with the setting, behavior of strangers and people around the protagonist wasn’t culturally accurate… it’s a classic silhouette of an author who goes “I have a great idea, I’m going to write a book” and then sits down to write out the entire book without using any frame of reference outside their own imagination. I know it’s the historian me that gets agitated by this, but it really bothers me to find this sort of situation when I read a book.

I have to give Channing a little bit of credit though. As much as I think What Kills Me is not a quality read, nor was it something that I couldn’t get through. Believe me, if the writing was too unpolished to read, I would’ve DNF’d it. At a very technical level, the writing is fine. I hate to say this, but that’s not something you always find in self-published books, so it was nice to see.

I also have to be honest and say that the paranormal vampire romances have never really been my jam. I can see where in 2004, this would’ve been a great read for folks impatient between Twilight and whatever the next book is. Eclipse? Sarah, if you are reading this, I’m sorry for not knowing these things. What I’m saying is: some people really love this kind of story, and others don’t understand the hype. I’m one of the latter.

Nostalgic for a quick, completely unrealistic teenage vampire love story where danger lurks around every corner? Sure, give What Kills Me a try. Personally, I am all set with this trilogy.

Setting

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

Characters

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Pacing

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Plot

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Writing

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Personal Enjoyment

Rating: 1 out of 5.
send me your thoughts

Did you enjoy the flood of vampire romances in the early 2000s?

If so, what is your favorite? If not, what type of romance do you like better?

Share with me in the comments!

stay magical amber

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Other Books Published in Summer 2012

11 books found

★★★★

What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

★½

★★★

★★★


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