Lips Touch: Three Times : A Book Review

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Book: Lips touch: three times Author/Authoress: Laini Taylor

Note: I know this book doesn’t fit into the dystopia genre at all. It fits into the paranormal romance one instead. I know, most of you-like me, immediately cringe away from the idea of paranormal romance. But I think that the ‘paranormal romance’ genre is somewhat unfairly criticized; The words ‘paranormal romance’ make us think of beautiful, sparkling vampires and hot werewolves who can shift at will and a insanely stupid but average in every other way heroine torn between loving both of  them. Ahem. I’m talking about Twilight. But Lips Touch: Three Times is not Twilight. And there are no love triangles or perfect guys (sorry, fairies) here. Or stupid, whiny heroines either. Instead there are calculating heartless goblins and demons. The heroines are surprisingly realistic with dreams and ambitions. I didn’t want to give this book a chance but I’m so glad I did. This book is dark, captivating, beautiful and so real at the same time. The main characters are relatable and their romance is heartbreakingly sad and pitiful at the same time.  Prepare yourself: these are not the Disney Fairytales. This is closer to the real stuff. No more happy endings, folks. These stories are tragically haunting and beautiful.

Cover:2/5  For a book as emotional and stirring as this one, the cover looks childish and tacky. I would have thought it was perfect for any other paranormal romance and I think that’s the crux of the problem; Lips Touch: Three Times is so much more. The gothic girl in the background conveys the message that it’s for young adult readers only. Not true, adults will get a lot out of this too.  For that matter, the title is a little misleading  too. Yes, the book is about lips touching (kissing) but not in the cheesy, romantic way that first comes to mind when we think of kisses. No, these kisses are dark, evil, corrupt and most of them are lust based instead of love based.

Plot:  5/5 (Taken from goodreads.com)  Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers’ souls: Goblin Fruit In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today’s savvy girls? Spicy Little Curses A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse. Hatchling Six days before Esme’s fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?

Characters: 4/5

“Kizzy wanted to be a woman who would dive off the prow of a sailboat into the sea, who would fall back in a tangle of sheets, laughing, and who could dance a tango, lazily stroke a leopard with her bare foot, freeze an enemy’s blood with her eyes, make promises she couldn’t possibly keep, and then shift the world to keep them. She wanted to write memoirs and autograph them at a tiny bookshop in Rome, with a line of admirers snaking down a pink-lit alley. She wanted to make love on a balcony, ruin someone, trade in esoteric knowledge, watch strangers as coolly as a cat. She wanted to be inscrutable, have a drink named after her, a love song written for her, and a handsome adventurer’s small airplane, champagne-christened Kizzy, which would vanish one day in a windstorm in Arabia so that she would have to mount a rescue operation involving camels, and wear an indigo veil against the stinging sand, just like the nomads. Kizzy wanted.”

I think this paragraph shows just how much Kizzy (the MC from the first story) wants to experience in life. You can tell that she’s a bit of a romantic and quite an adventurer.  She wants to be brave and confident and fall in love – goals every teenager in the world wants to achieve. And that makes her so relatable. If I put together a bucketlist of what I wanted to do in life, I doubt it would look exactly like this. But I can guarantee that the  same underlying hopes and ambitions would  be reflected in my bucketlist.

The second story deals with guilt, fear and teenage rebellion. Estalla is a lady who preserved the life of several children by cursing a girl name Anamique with a beautiful voice that would kill all who hear it. Anamique shows tenacity in restraining herself from ever using her weapon but falling in love makes her careless and hopeful enough to believe the curse is fake. A kiss is enough to make her go against everything she has been warned against from childhood to open her mouth and sing.  I didn’t relate to Ana as much as I related to Kizzy. But I did relate to Ana’s lover. He’s a cynical war-hero who has stopped believing in God but believes in Chance. He is driven insane by his love for Ana and at every opportunity tries cajoling her to speak. Somehow his bitter doubt in God makes him easier to relate to.

“James often wondered at the chain of flukes it must have taken to bring him through with his own life and limbs intact. Once he might have believed it to be the work of Providence but it seemed to him now that to thank God for his life would be to suggest God had shrugged off all the others flicked them away like cigarette butts by the thousands and that seemed like abominable conceit. James Dorsey took no credit for being alive. His higher power these days was Chance.”

In the third story we deal with a girl who has been on the run with her mother for fourteen years. Then suddenly she is captured by a beautiful wolf man- a demon. Strangely she is able to recognize him and remembers sharing a kiss with him. What he tells her, just blows her away. He tells her that she is sharing a soul with the woman who hurt her mother so much.

“But her name was Esmé. She was a girl with long, long, red, red hair. Her mother braided it. The flower shop boy stood behind her and held it in his hand. Her mother cut it off and hung it from a chandelier. She was Queen. Mazishta. Her hair was black and her handmaidens dressed it with pearls and silver pins. Her flesh was golden like the desert. Her flesh was pale like cream. Her eyes were blue. Brown.”

Romance: 3/5  The first story is less a romance and more of self discovery. The girl who has thought she was ugly for her whole life discovers that she’s beautiful in a less conventional way. After thrilling for an adventure for her whole life,she seizes the chance to kiss a goblin even when she knows that doing so could leave her a soulless husk.  She doesn’t kid herself by thinking that it’s love; She fully acknowledges it as lust. But that doesn’t stop her from doing the dangerous deed. I think this sums up the thrill and danger beautifully.

It was Kizzy’s first kiss, and maybe it was her last, and it was delicious.”

The second story is about a different kind of dangerous love- the forbidden-because-of-a-curse kind of love.

“Kissing can ruin lives. Lips touch sometimes teeth clash. New hunger is born with a throb and caution falls away. A cursed girl with lips still moist from her first kiss might feel suddenly wild like a little monsoon. She might forget her curse just long enough to get careless and let it come true. She might kill everyone she loves…”

The third story consists of  two separate love stories. One of them is about the quest of a demon to show his soulless ex-wife whose lost all his memories that they were once human too (via a kiss, of course). The other is a simpler, more innocent love between two fourteen . What makes this story so unique is that the first woman lived inside the other for fourteen years. Personally I prefer the second love story in this story but the other one is sensual and profound too.

Plotholes: 2/5 Laini Taylor seems to have almost made Lips Touch: Three Times a satire of love and romance. In the first story, am I the only one who noticed the hidden cautionary message of what exactly lust can do for a person’s self-preservation? In the second one, doesn’t anybody else notice what the notion of romance can do to a person’s common sense? In the third story there’s a quote that suggests how unhealthy love can be.

Mihai wished he could believe that his waiting was drawing to an end, but he was no fool. She might kill him for what he’d done, and he wouldn’t even blame her for it. It would be a poetic end to his long, mad life, and sometimes death didn’t sound bad at all, but simple and even a little sweet.

The whole book seems to have been made for mocking romance.

Overall Rating: 4  If you want several dark, sensuous, emotionally gripping not-quite-love-stories with paranormal aspects to them, you’ll live this book. Even if you don’t…well read it and you’ll remember the book anyway. It beautifully tells the ugly side of love.

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