First Lines: Melina stared out the window of her classroom and thought of a million things that she would rather be doing. Her language arts teacher, Mrs. Frerking, gave lectures that could be used to induce hypnosis, so Melina often found herself daydreaming of things far more exciting than class.
I was contacted a couple months ago by the author, who was a really sweet and unassuming person. When he mailed me a copy of this book, he even included a thank you note (which is just awesome) and a picture he drew of a cowboy. A little quirky, but I enjoyed it.
Melina had lived a fairly normal life up until six months ago, when her mom got into a car accident that put her into a coma. But what Melina doesn’t know is that her dad is a spy, and he’s been training her to be one as well. When her dad discovers some evidence to prove that his wife’s accident may not have been so accidental, he pulls Melina into a world of danger, of politics, and mostly of secrets. Can they save Melina’s mom before it’s too late?
The first thing the author told me when he emailed me was that he was an engineer who’d had the spark to write this thanks to his daughter. He kept emphasizing that he was not a writer. And, admittedly, that shows through in parts. The writing style is sometimes basic and repetitive when it shouldn’t be. It sometimes came off as distracting, when Melina would have something happen to her and immediately after it happened, she tells it in detail to her best friend. Yes, we know that Alex (her crush) just did something cute. We saw it. Finally, the voices sometimes sounded fake to me, going back to this contraction argument I feel like I keep having. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that most people our age talk in contractions more often than not. When characters don’t do that, it stands out.
There’s also the little detail that you can kind of tell this was written by a guy about girls. There were parts that didn’t ring true to me, but were stereotypical of girls. Most of that was early on in the story and ended before long.
Otherwise, I thought the story was pretty cool. It took a while to get used to the spy elements because you’re just thrown into those for the most part, but it was fun. And there’s the mystery that is kind of hard to figure out (probably because there aren’t hints dropped throughout the whole story). There’s also a fair amount of legitimate physics in the story that I could understand fairly well. (Says the girl whose only physics lessons come from her weekly viewing of The Big Bang Theory.)
One final point I want to bring up, especially after mentioning the stereotypical girls point, is that there is a lot of female equality and empowerment in this story. I actually loved that aspect. For example, the President of the United States was a female. There was a mom who didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. There was a woman who was the first female in her field. And Melina is an incredibly strong heroine. Literally. She can kick butt thanks to all the krav maga she’s been taking.
So even though there were some mechanical issues that needed worked out, the story itself is actually pretty impressive.