Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review of Hello Kitty Must Die

Angela Choi's debut novel Hello Kitty Must Die (Tyrus Books, 2010) is a left of center crime story, reminiscent of early Chuck Palanhiuk (You know, the stuff he wrote before Choke, which is the point where he became unreadable). Fiona Yu is a 28-year old corporate attorney. She is intelligent and successful, but still lives at home with her traditional Chinese family, a situation that she finds stifling, to say the least. The book opens with Fiona taking her own virginity with a dildo as a sort of silent rebellion against carrying her family's honor in the form of her hymen. Upon discovering that her hymen is already broken, she seeks out a doctor to reconstruct it so that she can rip it properly. The doctor turns out to be her old friend, Sean, who she hasn't seen since he was sent away to juvie for setting a classmate's hair on fire. Fiona and Sean share a bond borne of mutual alienation, and Sean's behavior hasn't changed much from his school days. Under his influence, Fiona's soon turns her anger outward and begins striking back at those she sees as standing between her and happiness.

The titular Hello Kitty refers to the stereotype of the submissive, quiet Asian woman as personified by the ubiquitous, mouthless Japansese cat, which has found its way onto every product imaginable. Fiona has been ruthlessly pigeonholed her entire life, and it's warped her more than a little. Having to suppress her actual desires and personality in order to play a character has left her angry and bitter. It's easy to see why she wants to lash out, but a little more difficult to see why she doesn't just, say, move to the east coast, where she would be three thousand miles away from all of these crushing expectations, and would likely not have to murder anybody. Fiona's bloodlust makes her less than likeable at times, even if her motives are understandable. The book is more of a black comedy than it is thriller, or typical serial killer novel. Hello Kitty Must Die has its moments, and Tyrus books has done a good job in snagging a title out of left field, breaking away from their usual fare (not that there's anything wrong with their usual fare), and finding a new voice that's worth a listen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Um, I live on the East Coast, and those stifling Hello Kitty expectations are well and alive here also.