By Stephenie Meyer
She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.
Now, she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.
When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.
Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.
I devoured this book.
It begins with a woman on the run and called back to a former government agency that tried to kill her. She is tired of running, having killed the three assassins sent to kill her, and takes a chance. Nothing goes well after that.
The pacing of the plot is engaging. The timeline is short so the lengthy book consists of meticulously detailed scenes showing Alex how she has learned to stay alive, how she works as an interrogator and how she learns to trust again through the twin brothers she meets.
The fight scenes were realistic enough, especially how people get hurt. Alex gets a good beating early one and her face is a wreck which informs some decisions. She is later able to use the injuries to her advantage; again, in line with the short timeline and having things pay off.
I like how Meyer got into the work Alex did as the Chemist – an interrogator known for causing pain through drugs – while deftly avoiding ridiculously complicated science. There are some spy books, or even sci-fi books, that delve into those sorts of details and with the right author it can be very enjoyable. Meyer referenced enough details to make Alex’s knowledge and work feasible.
Speaking of feasible, I guess it’s not a good spy novel without an insane conspiracy that goes all the way to the top. During the climactic fight scene, I actually forgot all about the man at the top because the squabbling down below was so engaging. The conspiracy was wrapped up fine. Conspiracies are difficult in general to make plausible and this one worked well enough. The man at the top had historical ties to some nasty stuff that Alex and her unlikely ally, in their separate agencies, both learned too much about so had to be eliminated. Ruthless bosses – they’re the worst, especially when they want to kill you for simply doing your job.
The love story woven in between the spy games is a bit unlikely since it’s based on an extremely understanding and forgiving man and love at first sight. It was a bit tiresome at times when Alex protests yet again that she has no adult communication skills due to her upbringing and isolated life. Trust issues due to living on the run from a hit seems like a great reason to have problems with relationships so the extra stuff wasn’t necessary.
I appreciated the epilogue which wrapped up the story with a happy ending while still maintaining the characters’ reality.
This is a super fun book if you like spy and thriller genres, and a strong female protagonist who isn’t afraid to show her intellect and skill.