Death’s Kiss by Regie Khemvisay
Life is valuable. Death is a necessity. In Yliria, this is not a contradiction. New Year’s Eve 2054. A virus, later named the BlackJack, struck and killed 3/4 of the world’s population. Only those who were 21 and younger were not infected. Treaties broke off. Countries severed connection to the outside world. And the country of Yliria built its own invisible walls. Thirty-eight years later… Yliria is now at peace. But nothing is gained without sacrifices. Yuri’s life was perfect. Family. School. Career. Then there’s Ryoma. Her one true love. Nothing could go wrong when she has everything planned out. But on the night of their anniversary, it did not end with a kiss. Ripped from their normal lives, both Yuri and Ryoma woke up from a dream to face the real nightmares. As a punishment for their parents’ treason, they must serve the government—the System—as the new Aces of the Court Department, assigned to oversee and maintain the peace and balance within Yliria. One week. 13 lives. Armed, not with a weapon, but the same virus that destroyed the world. The Aces must escape their new fate. If not, the only path left in their future is the one covered in blood.
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What an intense novel! From the first chapter to the last, Khemvisay weaves a story of love, survival, and rebellion that is sure to keep all readers on their toes.
Yuri and Ryoma think that they have all their lives to be together, but all that changes when they’re seized by the government and thrust into a world of conspiracies and danger. Immediately subjected to a mysterious surgery and sent to a government facility, the two are kept apart - and warned to stay away from each other for good. Through a series of minor revelations, the four Aces - Yuri, Ryoma, Sam, and Chrys - learn that they’re to become the harbingers of death in “the Shuffle,” a weekly thinning of the population, because they all carry the virus that nearly decimated the world years ago.
Khemvisay did a wonderful job presenting the plot from both Yuri’s and Ryoma’s perspectives. Each character had a distinct point of view, and it was great to see their side as they grappled with the changes they’re forced into and the battle they initiate against the System.
A combination of The Hunger Games, Romeo and Juliet, and 1984, Death’s Kiss was a wild look at a dystopian world where, once again, the government that forms after disaster is the villain. I loved the deck of cards hierarchy for government officials. It was a fun way to establish order, and it made it easy to understand how individuals ranked in relation to each other. Perhaps the only thing Khemvisay could have done to improve the story was do a little more showing then telling. Certain scenes and descriptions dragged a bit because of the level of detail that was put into a situation or character’s thoughts, and the plot takes a handful of chapters to kick in.
All in all, I really enjoyed Death’s Kiss and look forward to seeing what Regie Khemvisay writes next!
Learn more about Regie and grab your copy of Death’s Kiss here: https://www.regiekhemvisay.com/.