By Kristen Orlando
Published January 10th 2017
Rating 3/5 leafs
I like my reviews to be little leaflets of information about the book, a list of things to be prepared for so you can get to reading. I also want reading to be an experience so at the end I’ll list some things I think would pair well with this book.
Synopsis from Goodreads
Fighter. Faker. Student. Spy.
Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan. Now Reagan must decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she’s always wanted? And does she even have a choice?
I haven’t read a spy book in a long time and I don’t think I’ve ever read one that’s not spies from history or spies in fantasy or sci-fi spies. That is what I believe makes this book unique. We have plenty of spy tv shows but in literature, it is a genre that is fairly small, especially in YA. There was plenty of action, high-stakes, and combat talk.
What To Expect
One of the elements I really enjoyed in this book was the descriptions of fighting. Whether it is training or an actual fight scene, I felt that they were all easy to picture and follow in my head. Orlando really did her research into krav maga, weaponry, and the military because those elements were pretty believable. I liked it when the black angels fighting style or guns were compared to the enemies. Although I’m almost certain the Black Angels aren’t real –Kristen Orlando didn’t suddenly disappear because the military read her books and then kidnapped her to silence her, did she?– they could be.
There is a surprising amount of character development in this short novel. Reagan discusses whether she wants to continue in her parents steps in the Black Angels or relinquish her place and live a normal life. She struggles with the fact that her parents are completely loyal to the agency (to a fault in her mind) and she struggles with a pretty severe form of anxiety. In the end, you can very much tell that it is a different Reagan from in the beginning.
Realistic Main Character
The main character in this book is a highly trained senior in high school and that’s exactly how it reads. Reagan goes to a party and makes decisions that I feel are pretty accurate to what a real senior in high school would make. I respected this aspect of the book, but it did get annoying when I felt that Reagan should have made a more responsible decision.
I was pleasantly surprised by this story. I felt that I knew everything that was going to happen when I read the synopsis but I was wrong–which is a great thing! Reagan really does struggle and make dumb decisions, everything doesn’t just work out for her. Also Orlando was pretty clever with her story and I respect that a lot. The characters get themselves into some big trouble and have to think creatively to get out of it.
What I Didn’t Like
Highlight to see the negative! No spoilers.
Tell Not Show
While there was a lot of character development that I mentioned above, it was all mostly telling instead of showing. I knew exactly what Reagan was questioning and scared about because she told me right away. I knew what she was planning before she did it and then I just had to watch her work it out.
I was going to do a separate negative section about pacing but I believe that the tell not show was the problem with the pacing. I was having trouble with just classifying the pacing as a negative point because I remember thinking that it was a positive thing. Although it was a action packed book, there was also reflection. The romance wasn’t insta love and had an even pace throughout the whole book. Yet the tell not show made it drag. Besides for the plot changes that happen to Reagan, she discusses everything she’s going to do and then she does it.
Some spy shows that I think are worth while! Especially The Bourne Trilogy with Matt Damon.