Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.
Have you seen the movie Taken with Liam Neeson? Because if you have, and you love it, then by all means, read this book. But if you have, and you hated it, then there’s no point in reading this book. The book is quite similar to the movie, only the roles are reversed with an angry daughter flying to Europe and taking on crime bosses, human trafficking and drug dealers to rescue her father. (Strangely enough, this is the third book that I have read in a month where the child goes to rescue their father.)
I will give Bergstrom credit where credit is due, the pacing of this book is fast moving and really well done. But unfortunately my praise ends there. The drug use, mention of sex and violence were too much for me. And the language was even worse. Now I have to be honest, I ended up skimming large portions of the book. Violence and foul language should not be used as substitutes for well developed characters.
I don’t have a problem with anti-heroes or even, to paraphrase the author, morally complex characters. I do have a problem with a main character who talks about catcallers loving her teenage legs at the very beginning of the novel. A few pages later she is flustered by a quick peck from a boy—is this the same character who was so obviously aware of her sexuality just a minute ago? Then not half a book later she contemplates prostitution as a means to an end—wait wasn’t she just flustered by some innocent affection? I don’t think Bergstrom had a very good grasp of what it means to be a 17 year-old girl. Nor does he have a very good grasp of his audience. I felt like I was reading a novel version of an action movie. And I’m sorry, but excessive use of the f-bomb does not adequately portray anything other than a poor mastery of the English language.
Now, the novel has been optioned by Paramount and Jerry Bruckheimer and I honestly think it could make a really good action movie. But it certainly wasn’t a very good YA novel.
*A HUGE thank you to Feiwel & Friends for this ARC which I got in exchange for an honest review*