Marie Lu’s books are always action-packed page turners, and this was no exception. I loved the concept: a 19 year old male superstar and a female spy team up to bring down a crime lord via his one weakness: his daughter, who is a huge fan of said superstar. Sydney (the spy) and Winter (the star) initially dislike each other, but at least on Winter’s side, that doesn’t last very long. Sydney takes longer to open up, due to trust issues, but she comes around eventually, and when she does, the sparks definitely fly. It was a bit unbelievable that a 19 year old girl would be such an awesome bodyguard/fighting machine/superspy, but I can suspend my disbelief on that, since female powerhouse fighters is such a common trope these days.
My major complaint on this book is really the same that I have with most Marie Lu books – she’s a great author, but either she or her publisher is VERY woke – she/they can’t seem to help themselves in throwing all that stuff in, even when it doesn’t serve the story in any way. Almost half the characters have to check one of the diversity boxes, which I could mostly overlook since it doesn’t usually interfere with the story much. The part that really got to me this time was that Winter (oh yeah) happened to have this little bisexual interlude where he hooked up with his male backup dancer. If you want to make the main character gay, go for it – and it can be marketed to those who want those books. If it’s a straight romance, it should be a straight romance. But it was very jarring and took me out of the story for a clearly heterosexual male to have had that episode in his life… like it was only there to check the box.
My rating: ****
Sexual content: none (though alluded to and it’s almost there)
Violence: there but not gratuitous
Language: there but not major
Political content: annoyingly heavy