Sunday, 23 February 2014

Live and Let Shop: The Little Spy (Book) Who (Almost, Not Really) Could

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(given as an ARC by NetGalley)

Author: Michael P. Spradlin
Publishing House:
Open Road Media YA
271 pages
Publication: 10th December 2013
Book 1 of the Spy Goddess Series
Review written by Lady Entropy

Blackthorn Academy, meet Rachel Buchanan.

I'm not a delinquent...I'm just misunderstood. Of course, the judge didn't see it that way. She gave me a choice: juvenile detention or boarding school in Pennsylvania, of all places. That's how I wound up at freaky Blackthorn Academy. This school is clearly hiding some major secrets.

And here's something you should know about me: Rachel Buchanan never gives up when there are secrets to uncover. Watch out, Blackthorn Academy!

Making a good teen spy book is more than just creating a super academy, finding a sassy main character with a chip on her shoulder, a group of friends and a catchy title that makes a bad pun with spy-related movies or books.

Gallagher girls had a series of well-defined support character, an interesting main character, before it worried about getting the spy-pun title.

Unfortunately, Spy Goddess failed to impress in its first outing: the secondary characters were mostly two dimensional, with the exception, maybe of the headmaster, the plot went too quickly into the supernatural for my tastes in this sort of thing, and the main character wasn't just brattish. She came across as spoilt, annoying, whiny and just plain uninteresting. There was some growing, thankfully, but not enough to entirely salvage her. The "Spy Academy" as it were wasn't particularly interesting, either, and I was puzzled at their love for Tae-Kwon-Do. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE TKD. But I'd expect a spy-in-training academy to train students in multiple martial arts, and restricting them to a single style could actually be an issue in the future. MMA artists try to master complementing styles, so they can be ready for most anything.

But, martial arts rants aside, I'm not entirely willing to give up on this series. I love Gallagher Girls, and I always had a soft spot for the teenspy genre. So I will pick up the other books in the series to see if it can be redeemed.

Also, it's VERY bad form to have a title that has 0 to do with your character or the book: the main character doesn't like shopping, there are no shopping scenes that are meaningful to the plot, shopping is in no way related to the plot, and I spent the entire book looking for the shop connection. Yes, I know that Gallagher girls does it as well, but they puns are espionage related, not "other activity" related. If the book had been "Live and Let Spy" or "Live and Let Snoop", I'd be fine with it. "Live and Let Shop" just makes promises that it can't keep.

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