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Friday, July 20, 2018

Spies, Lies & Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts

Spies, Lies & Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts
Contemporary Romance, 300 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Entangled: Teen
Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media...and I’m afraid it's working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

Well. I definitely should have reviewed this well before now, since I read it back in late April or early May (long enough ago that I can’t even quite remember), but frankly, silly blogger that I am, I couldn’t make up my mind on how I wanted to review it: written post or vlog. As if it matters. Finally I was just like, Misty, what are you doing with your life, and sat down to write this, and now here we are. Fascinating, huh?

You’d probably have been able to guess how I was likely to feel about this from my first impressions video, if not, or if you missed that video, lemme be clear: this was super cute and sweet and not at all saccharine, and I deffo recommend.

I really enjoyed the voice in S, L, & A. Laurel is an easy character to like and follow along with, relatable (even if she is rich, and a lot of us are, ahem, not), warm, smart and funny, without being too much of anything, to make her a perfectperfect, bland Mary Sue. There’s a good streak of nerdom niche, making it possibly a good fit for fans of the super popular Geekerella, though I think it maybe even had more going for it than Geekerella. If you watched that first impressions video, you’ll know that the nerd factor was actually the element I was most concerned about. The Star Wars references were… frequent, to say the least; I was worried it was going to be too heavy-handed and almost condescending: this is the reference I’m making, the comparison I’m laying, and just in case you didn’t get it the first eighteen times, I’m going to make it one more time… But actually, this element either leveled out, or I got used to it, because although it was a thread that was carried through the entire story, it didn’t feel like too much. Laurel's Star Wars obsession and general nerdery worked to build the character, and her relationship to her dad, and just felt authentic to who they were.

Which brings me to what is perhaps my favorite – and the most surprising – thing about the book: I like that there's a parent/child relationship at the heart of the story that is equally, if not more, important than the romance. It’s a Known Thing™ that kids in YA and MG stories are almost always orphans, in practice if not in reality. Whether it’s because they’re workaholics, died in fiery crashes, or have been kidnapped by the fairies, parents in books for kids and teens are just non-existent. There are lots of reasons for this, which have certainly been explored and written about before, but the main reason for this is expediency: you want your protagonists to be able to do whatever the story requires of them, without worrying about things like curfew or a parent saying things like, Now, just where do you think you’re going with that knapsack full of M&Ms and spare clothes, little missy? But the parents in Spies, Lies, and Allies aren’t just there, they’re involved, they’re active, they give a shit.  Even more than that, the book is as much an exploration of, and love letter to, a father/daughter relationship as it is a cutesy contemporary romance. Beyond adding another layer to the story, it really set the story apart from other cutesy contemporary romances, and I appreciated this immensely. 

It did have some continuity issues, or just small things that I would question. Nothing major, and quite possibly nothing that will even stand out to some/many readers, but I did notice them, and these small things do add up. Many will find it predictable, which it is, but in a wanted way. I've talked about this a lot lately – sometimes predictable works. And eh, there's nothing new under the sun, right?

All in all, I read through it really quickly – so it’s plenty engaging – and enjoyed it a lot. It has a really good sense of place and of voice; it’s sweet and wholesome, without really being too cheesy too fluffy, or easy to dismiss, and it has that little something extra to set it apart. Recommended!

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