Elevate Difference

Hello Kitty Must Die

To many, Hello Kitty is a mouthless cat in blue overalls who’s never spotted without her signature red bow, but to twenty-eight-year-old Chinese-American Fiona Yu, the feline is an embodiment of everything she hates and willing to kill for. Author Angela S. Choi makes her publishing debut with the crime novel Hello Kitty Must Die, and while it attacks nearly every stereotype that Asian American women face daily, it leaves a bad aftertaste that not even the saccharine sweet pop culture icon can cure.

Yu is that character readers will love to hate, but it’s not because of her cringing pessimistic personality or how she seems to despise everything that comes her way. Rather, Choi’s book is an unconvincing collection of bland one-liners and exasperating contradictions that fail to depict a tale of family values gone bad.

“My virginity will always be mine,” declares Yu in the first few pages of Hello Kitty Must Die as she decides to eliminate her hymen with a Lidocaine-coated dildo. Yet after making this bold choice that would have empowered some not wanting to wait for Mr. Right, she realizes that there’s no cherry to pop. As a result, Yu decides to have her hymen replaced solely to tear apart her “family honor.” It’s difficult to continue moving forward in the story as this is a poor attempt in showing readers that Yu wants complete control of her body, including the right to take her own virginity.

While it’s acceptable for any female to feel that she shouldn’t have a man just to “make her a woman," it isn’t believable that Yu would go through all this trouble simply to get rid of human tissue. Why would a woman purposely tear her hymen and then spend thousands of dollars to have it replaced just to prove she has full control of her womanhood? Choi doesn’t attempt to convince readers the purpose of making a sudden and very expensive decision, which leaves us wondering if embarking on Yu’s confusing journey is worth it.

Yu complains of her family’s desires to wed her off, yet she, a Yale graduate and corporate lawyer, chooses to live with them. Is this Choi’s way of showing her audience that Yu is just an American girl who won’t leave the bird’s nest and isn’t as independent as she implies? These issues are troubling, yet they’re tossed aside, like the family-picked suitors Yu secretly gets rid of because they’re too fat, hideous, or unable to pay for dinner. There’s one leading man who’s more serial killer than prince charming that does get Vuitton-loving Yu’s heart racing, but even he can’t close this Pandora’s box of problems.

Childhood friend Sean Killroy may relish the hunt for unsuspecting victims, but it’s Yu, not the psychopath she secretly admires, that hits reader’s nerves. It’s difficult to believe that she feels no remorse for the poor “Hello Kitties” in her life, all because they merely represent a fate she refuses to accept. For example, when readers discover that her skin bleaching obsessed cousin Katie was found dead from a broken neck, all Yu could think of was how she saved herself from an unwanted marriage because the morgue isn’t “a good place. They don’t serve fifteen-dollar bellinis there.” She later wonders if “morticians gave their clients pedicures. After all, no one would ever know.”

Yu despises getting set up on blind dates just to walk down the aisle faster and comments how Katie “fainted all the time” because she was 90 pounds, but didn’t mind “the modern version of Chinese foot binding” with Prada, Dior, and Blahnik. We couldn’t help but wonder why she’s willing to stay single, yet goes on tangents over every designer label she owns just to flaunt her looks, which are meant to show her poor excuses for suitors why she’s the catch they’ll never have? This is one major flaw that’s never solved in Hello Kitty Must Die, only displaying Choi’s inability to produce a heart-stopping murder mystery for those seeking a bad ass Bridget Jones or Carrie Bradshaw. We’ll stick with cutesy cartoons any day.

Written by: Stephanie Nolasco, May 31st 2010

I don't think this is a perfect book by any means, but I like it better than the reviewer did. And I enjoyed reading it. Yu is a sociopath, which explains why she doesn't care about the "Hello Kitties." And she is responsible for the fire (trying to avoid a spoiler here). She cares about her hymen because, as weird as this sounds, her father does. On one level she rejects the traditions her parents want her to practice. But she is still a dutiful daughter, a conflicted one. (I suspect a lot of readers identify with this.) She still lives at home at 28! Anyway, there are some inconsistencies. It's a first novel, and that shows in places. But give me Yu over Carrie Bradshaw any day.

Jane

EXCELLENT review!

Maybe it's just because I'm Asian American, but I didn't find her situation contradictory. I do not know how to phrase this without sounding patronizing, but while I understand where the writer of this review is coming from, Fiona is not a white heroine and her situation, particularly her living situation, is not that of a stereotypical white woman.

I also think that some of the author's points missed the book's deliberate use of absurdity and macabre humor.

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