Series: Embassy Row #1
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 320 (ARC)
Source: Borrowed from Friend
A new series of global proportions -- from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.
This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.
Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay -- in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.
I grew up with Ally Carter, so naturally I have super high expectations when it comes to her books. When I got my greedy little hands on an ARC of this novel, I literally jumped for joy, and I am so happy to say that I really liked it. In my eyes, it falls just short of perfect.
One of the really cool aspects of this novel is the world-building. It's simple, really. A bunch of country's have a good relationship with the novel's rich and imaginary host country have embassy's set up on a street called Embassy Row. Here all the diplomats do their foreign correspondence and a ton of teenagers also grow up together because their parents are stationed here. Grace has a reputation among this group of kids as being a bit of a chaotic daredevil that can't be tamed, so the book makes for a really unique read because of its one of a kind set up.
Grace, the main character, is not the typical young adult heroine. She's impulsive, her sanity is questionable, and she is a huge dare-devil. In other words, she's awesome. Her characterization alone is enough to entice a reader because we don't come across many Grace Blakely's as we read and it's even more enticing because half the time she seems certifiably insane. We all know I love me some well-written insanity. Something new is always fascinating and her characterization, as well as the general concept of the novel was done stupendously. The cast of supporting characters was extremely strong, too. I often found myself smiling whenever Noah was in a scene and he even had me laughing out loud a few times. Serving as the half-Israeli, half-Brazilian best friend that was chock full of comic relief, he is one to remember. As are Megan, Rosie, and even Ms. Chancellor. Each of them bring a different and complicated persona that contributes to the overarching story in a surprisingly important way.
The mystery definitely had me flipping pages, which is always a good sign. It kept the book going at an incredibly fast pace, though that can also be attributed to its short page length. While I understand why Carter chose to end the story where she did, I can't help but want more. This is partially attributed to its quick length and the fact that the book is so short. While it tells a full story, it is lacking in detail here and there and I just want to know what happens next! The wait is going to kill me, lack of details aside.
What's lacking in detail is made up in awesome insanity like a ton of teenagers finding hidden passageways and running surveillance on the perceived bad guys while they act like spies and risk ruining relationships with entire country's because their actions hold so much sway. Talk about originality and awesomeness packed into a tiny little package of perfectness.
The last thing worth noting is the romance. I kind of feel as if it came out of nowhere. While I'm curious about what will happen in the future, it literally wasn't even a blip on my radar and then it forcefully became one. I'm not entirely sure if I ship it or not. I'm not sure about a few other characters, too. They seem a little too much like a cliche television sitcom, especially the individual cast as the mean girl.
In the end, I have to admit I really enjoyed this. It has me curious for what is to come next and it cements the fact that I will never be able to dislike anything Ally Carter writes. I am a devoted slave that will forever love this master of young adult spy novels. I'm ready to bow down now.