This book reminded me a lot of Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood music video (co-starring Hailee Steinfeld), and also the 2015 movie “Barely Lethal” (starring Hailee Steinfeld). The premise is promising and fun – a small paramilitary army of female teenage assassins take on international bad guys while also dealing with the normal drama of growing up. It’s a fun concept, and writer Manuel Gonzales has a good time with it.
Gonazales’ writing style is divisive. It reads like what is probably intended to be the stream-of-consciousness thought of teenaged or twenty-something women, and that can either be great or grating, depending on how you take it. I liked it. Some of my favorite lines:
“While Love might be eternal and undying, [Spoiler] wasn’t either of those and would be killed anyway.”
“[Spoiler]? [Spoiler]’s dead.”
“Apparently not dead enough,” she said.
“Let’s be honest: If she couldn’t cut a sword—even the cheapest of swords—clean through a guy’s wrist, she should just turn in her Trained Assassin Badge and Assassin Gear and open up a quilting shoppe.”
There is also a random intermission-like section halfway through the book told from the point of view of a minor character unimportant to the plot that is darkly hilarious. It centers around the titular attack on the regional office. That section made me laugh out loud several times on the bus. I don’t know what my fellow commuters thought of me, but I know what I thought about that section. And what I thought was “Gold.”
The concept of the book is great, and Gonzales definitely has the capacity to write both funny and affecting prose, but the plot was all over the place. It jumped around too much for me, and I’m not sure what the intended impact of the jumping was. Maybe just style, but the style didn’t work for me. Additionally, while I respect the writer’s decision to focus on the relational aspects of the story instead of the assassin/magick/intergalactic danger stuff, it does leave the reader wanting to see a little more. I wouldn’t recommend this one as a purchase for casual readers. That being said, this is a weird fun read.