Kill Marguerite by Megan Milks is a genre-bender that fuses gaming, pop culture, social dysfunction, and identity crises, all while exploring nostalgic forms of narrative in ways that’ll make your heart explode. Literally, into a tomato, as in “Tomato Heart,” a story that allegorizes love and relationships into a ripe red fruit:
“My heart burst out of my chest. It popped through its arterial fence, it surged through my lungs and my rib cage, and ejected itself through various nervous tissues and muscle fibers with a final rip through the hole I had made in my skin… I was more fascinated than alarmed- fascinated because my heart, now visible to the world, looked remarkably like a tomato.”
Every story has immediate impact and her prose will make you tremble, quiver, then laugh out loud. She writes one of the most incredibly unique love stories in “Earl and Ed,” a relationship between a wasp and an orchid, deftly balancing the boundary between the visceral violence of physicality and the chaotic juggernaut of desire- a theme that resonates through many of the stories. One of my favorites is the eponymous “Kill Marguerite” where she tackles high school angst through the structure of a videogame narrative. Caty must Kill Marguerite or die herself, and she has three lives to achieve her goal. There’s bonus levels, icons, extra lives, a jetpack, a Super Pitfall like rope swing. But the impetus isn’t a high score or rescuing some lame prisoner. It’s to navigate her way through the turbulence of youth and friendships, her desire to assert herself versus the peer pressure of real-life Goombas and Bowsers. There is no princess in another castle. It’s a dichotomy of philosophies in that life isn’t a game, even though it is. Caty’s voice feels authentic; confused, confident, conflicted; a splurge of thoughts warring within her. A feeling we’d like to relegate to high school, when in fact, it hounds and haunts us into maturity. Milks’s reminds us of our jealousies, our defeats, and our attempts at triumph, stirring those together against the backdrop of retro-gaming.
If there is one story was stole my retro-tomato-heart, it had to be “Twins.” On the surface, it’s a struggle between two sisters trying to distinguish themselves. “The book says you do these things because creating chaos in the relationship gives you a sense of freedom from the stifling confinement of intimacy.” But then, things take on a sinister turn as the narrative shifts to a second person “you,” and you see their teacher, Mr. Bowman, “reach up to his head, grab his ears, and peel off his face! You are Elizabeth Wakefield. And your English teacher is an alien.” The book then breaks out into a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure that, seriously, is worth the price of admission on the entire collection. I used to be obsessed with the Choose Adventures and went through every permutation of every book I could get my hands on. This case was no different as I kept on making different choices that either left me dead or as a savior in paradoxical victory that could be reverted with one wrong decision.
You now have two choices:
If you want to read Kill Marguerite by Megan Milks and be exposed to her innovative genius, turn to the next page at this Amazon link.
If you don’t want to read Kill Marguerite by Megan Milks, your heart will explode into a tomato.