Reviewed in the United States on March 4, 2017
Former government interrogator Alex has gone by many names in the 3 years she's been surviving on the run by dint of chemical know-how, obsessive planning, paranoia, and solitude; a trap laid by her former employers takes her life on a very unexpected turn, and she's suddenly part of a group of secretive survivors that includes dogs, an ex-CIA agent, a high-end escort, and the man who just might be the love of her life--if she can figure out what it actually means to be in love.
(Though reviews are inherently subjective, I prefer to provide some organization to my opinions through the use of a personal rubric. The following notes may contain spoilers.)
Plot and Setting: 4.9 -- Plot is engaging from start to finish. Has many unique elements, no major holes, and a sense of focus. Setting is clear and believable. Timeline is consistent, though a bit hard to follow. This is an action-packed, tension-driven story, with humor and romance and genius dogs thrown in to balance out the darker aspects. Incredibly detailed plots and plans, involving tons of clever spy tricks and deadly science, as well as a strong emotional story arc. A little of everything, sewn beautifully together. I loved it. I also appreciated Alex's inner commentary on how it seemed like more time had passed than actually had, because that's definitely the truth. I would've liked a little more clarity on the time passing front, but it does seem to be decently consistent throughout.
Characters: 5 -- Relatable, realistic, interesting, dynamic characters. Even minor characters have depth, as do the relationships between characters. Lots of very unique, fascinating characters. Even the dogs have great personalities, and the close look Alex takes into the lives of the 'bad guys' she targets lends depth and realism to those characters, too. It was fun seeing the main characters grow and change over the course of the very few weeks the book covers, as Alex adjusts to caring about and trusting other people, Daniel deals with a reality so very foreign to all he's known before, Val shows her softer side, and Kevin changes his opinion about Alex. As strange as their situations are, these characters seem very real and believable in all they do.
Mechanics and Writing: 5 -- Few, if any, typos, punctuation issues, or word errors. Intelligent use of POV. Skillful writing that adds to the story. Actually no typos, and great writing. POV is all 3rd-person Alex (or Juliana, Casey, Jesse, Charlie, Ellis, etc, etc, etc). I loved how her name kept changing in the narration to match her changing aliases, especially in the beginning. It wasn't as confusing as it sounds like it should have been. I only had to stop and think about who it was talking about once or twice (Jesse and Juliana threw me a bit, for some reason, but the other names all somehow felt like her).
Redeeming Value: 3.5 -- Incidental uplifting themes or lessons. Drugs, alcohol, violence, etc, are a significant element of the story. No explicit sex scenes. Vague moral guidelines for behavior. Torture, poisoning, and black-ops violence is definitely a big feature here, though our band of heroes is placed on the lighter gray end of that dark spectrum: they limit their killing, etc, to soldiers, agents, and the big bosses who essentially put the hits out on them. Sort of a "just war" idea. One of the bosses, while dying, compliments Alex on not hurting the innocent, saying she has not lost her soul. So while it's not nearly as dark as it could be, we definitely have morally shaky ground there. Not to mention some (implied/off-screen) unmarried sex.
Personal Enjoyment: 5 -- I loved it. It made me feel in all the best ways, and leaves me content and satisfied. One I'll definitely read again.