by Jessie Humphries
Publication Date: October 28th, 2014
Format Read: Kindle E-Book
Still reeling from the heartbreaking events that unfolded on Grissom Island, Ruby Rose is trying to come to terms with the fact that she’s gone from a vigilante in killer shoes to a stone-cold killer. Everyone from her therapist to her smoking-hot boyfriend keeps trying to convince her that she hasn’t crossed over to the dark side, but Ruby isn’t so sure. It doesn’t help that her nemesis, Detective “Mastermind” Martinez, is still out there, waiting for another chance to take her down.
When an alleged CIA agent named Skryker shows up and asks for a meeting, Ruby figures it just means more questions about her case. But he has information of an entirely different nature and a job offer: join an elite force of young assassins, including Skryker’s right-hand guy, Quinn Donovan. Quinn is distractingly charming, handsome—and deadly. Ruby resists becoming a killer again, but as she becomes more ensnared in a web of deceit, no one around her is safe.
This was a hard book to read, let alone review. Especially since I ended up reading it twice–the second time around was torture, mostly because I knew what to expect but had to endure anyways. The first time around it was entertaining enough, and I came away with the impression that it wasn’t a bad little book, but there were quite a few issues. Allow me to sum up most of the problems in a nutshell: very strange love geometry. Also the old problem of total suspension of disbelief combined with no actual reason for the characters to be doing anything.
Utter lack of character motives is a major problem in both this book and the earlier one, but the earlier one was at least characterized by the possibility that there might be a motive somewhere. Here, there is not even a pretense. I mean, there’s an agency running around recruiting TEENS as ASSASSINS, and no one blinks an eye (I can’t even see the point to having a bunch of teen assassins, either). A BOMB blows up in the face of an aspiring politician, and any hint of it being a terrorist attack is apparently hushed up (also hard to believe, especially in this day and age). Oh, and I still don’t have any idea of why the terrorist is, well, being a terrorist. Or why every single adult in the world is so determined to pretend he doesn’t exist when he’s blowing things up. Or, for that matter, why he’s blowing things up so ineffectively…the amount of moments where a character was mildly injured by, or narrowly escapes, an otherwise lethal bomb blast is staggering. Either the baddie has no skill with bombs, or the main character’s friends all have a very particular magic talent.
Actually, there are a lot of moments like that. Like when Ruby’s friend, fully aware that she is at the moment being pursued by a terrorist, takes a random person up on the offer of a loan of a cabin without even thinking ‘hmm, is it maybe a trap?’ Or when the teen assassins magically show up to save the day. There are coincidences that can’t POSSIBLY be coincidences, which get a moment’s worth of paranoid suspicion and then are swept under the rug. This also means that, if you have a memory longer than the author, you are highly distrustful of most of the characters. I kept thinking ‘wait, five chapters ago you were utterly convinced that this guy had engineered an extremely complicated maneuver to manipulate, blackmail and thus convince you to become a teen spy, and now you’re working with said guy because you have been manipulated into a corner and now have no choice? And you think this will end well?’
I found fault, needless to say, with most of the plot. And a lot of it seemed to be because the author sacrificed any semblance of a plot for action and romance scenes. I am happy to accept the idea of teen assassins, if only you tell me why–is it for the same reason that they used to use children in factories, because their little hands are more nimble, or is it for a more sinister child-soldier-esque reason? If Ruby had actually thought through any of her actions, I might have been a little more willing to bear with them as well.
And now, now we get to the romance. This is the part of the book I’m actually torn about–the part that pulls the rating up to a meager two stars, rather than just one star, but it also annoys me the most. All of the romance parts are quite fun and sexy, and I have no problem with Quinn despite the fact that I’m still not sure I can trust him. What really annoys me is the 180-degree turn that happens, romance-wise. In the space of 24 hours Ruby goes from being willing to lose her virginity with Liam, to breaking up with him, and it feels like mere days later that she’s having hot makeouts with Quinn. This feels especially sloppy because the cause of this is Liam’s total and utter personality change–he goes from a really sweet guy who’s OK with Ruby taking the reins and protecting him, to someone who *has* to constantly be proving himself by taking Ruby down a notch, and is constantly pissed because she’s so cool. It frustrates me because although I actually do prefer Quinn, I liked it back when Liam was OK with women being badasses.
Also, because that whole sequence of Liam-changes-his-mind-about-everything, Quinn-comes-in-and-starts-flirting, awkward-maybe-love-triangle seems to simply scream sloppy writing. I mean, if you really HAVE to switch the love story and introduce a new love interest, you can at least lay the seeds a little before. It wouldn’t have been hard to change the tenor of Ruby and Liam’s relationship earlier, and make things at least a little more believable.
Although of all the unbelievable parts of the book, I find everything associated with Liam to be the most unbelievable. Besides the sudden personality shift, I don’t understand why he would be chosen to join Black Tide as well as Ruby, or what went into his partner selection. Here’s the thing: his personality shift and hate for Ruby seems to be explained by the fact that his petty teenage machismo can’t stand up to the idea of a strong, independent and capable woman who can defend not only herself, but him. Therefore, why is he then placed with a woman with a pixie cut? Because trust me, a seventeen-year-old girl with a pixie cut has a strong personality and STEEL BALLS enough to send an insecure teenage boy off crying. Main question: why is Eva even putting up with him, since she’s the most awesome yet least seen character in the book?
Also I’m pretty sure NO assassin agency in the world, especially not one with teen assassins, would actively encourage partners to get together. I mean, c’mon, nobody’s THAT stupid. That is A) a sure-fire way to encourage lots of drama on the job, and B) a great way to ensure your grand idea of teen assassins is utterly ruined by them making out instead of shooting people.
Whew, this post turned into something of a rant. Ah, well. The main point is, if you insist on reading this book, then read this book for the Ruby-Quinn makeouts, and try not to wince at the bad writing present everywhere else.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.