30 April, 2012

Fiction In Summary - Angela S. Choi - Hello Kitty Must Die

Choi's debut novel is a fast-moving, over-excitable funny and dark look at murder, expectation and self-fulfilment. Told through the eyes of Fiona, a Chinese-American lawyer, forever given away for marriage by her parents and forever unimpressed with the males around her. Taking her life into her own hands with the help of an old (sociopathic) friend, she murders and thrives.

The Hello Kitty of the title does reference the cuddly Japanese ubiquitous cat, a metaphor for the subjugation and passivity of women in Chinese culture. Whilst this metaphor is, in the novel, just a placeholder for Fi's own name, it works fairly well to further the idea of powerlessness which pervades the first part of the novel, but this sense of choosing ones own destiny never goes beyond parody of traditional Chinese culture.

What makes the novel interesting, before it turns into the thriller that is the final third of the book, is how it explores the binary of Chinese culture versus a more Americanised idea of the modern self. Beyond the promising first pages, the characters become farcical and parodic - however, this adds to the surreal representation of a very real problem, and fits into the tone and fun of the novel.

Whilst Fi and Sean behave in a way that is not normal, moral or kind, the novel's ability rests on its dark comedy and its spirit of excitement. Choi is obviously a promising talent - with more consistency and a better edit, her future works could be brilliant. I cannot wait for a novel in which it doesn't feel like she's shouting for attention on every page.

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