Friday, August 23, 2013

Review of Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance

Spies and Prejudice Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.

(Summary from GoodReads)

If you could add one thing to Pride and Prejudice to make it even more awesome, what would it be?  I am terrible at answering questions like this because I already love Elizabeth and Darcy’s story so much.   Given that some pretty awesome YA books with spies already exist, when I first heard the title Spies and Prejudice, I immediately fistpumped.  I hoped it would have the feel of an Ally Carter book, but that’s not what I got.    I finished Spies and Prejudice feeling disappointed that it read like an emotionally heavy thriller, but satisfied by Berry’s wit and the dynamic between her and the love interests.

It’s no secret that people today evaluate wealth very differently than anyone in Regency England did.  Elizabeth and her family are supposed to come off as middle class and slightly tacky, but not entirely desolate.  Instead of talking a lot about income levels, Vance conveyed this point by making our main characters Berry (short for Strawberry) Fields a.ka. Elizabeth Bennet and Mary Chris Moss a.k.a Charlotte Lucas.  The absurd names did a nice job of conveying the fact Elizabeth and Mary’ family didn’t really necessarily have good taste in comparison to those of their classmates. 

Berry Fields lives alone with her father and their giant Saint Bernard because her mother passed away a few years ago.  Obviously, this had a major impact on the tone of the entire story.  As we begin, Berry and her father are both learning to let go of what’s happened, but when Berry thinks she has the chance to learn about what really happened to her mother, she can’t do that and has to use her spy skills.  Mary helps supply the spy gear, and of course Darcy and Wickham are involved. 

I read sad books, and normally, having a downer tone isn’t something I fault a novel for.  In this case, however, it felt so unexpected given the tone of the original Pride and Prejudice.  I had really hoped this would read more like one of Ally Carter’s books.  At times Berry and her father’s grief felt clichéd as opposed to relatable.  That said, Vance kept the romantic dynamics alive.  Drew Mattingly is George Wickham and Tanner Holston is Mark Darcy.  Both of their stories were nicely tied into the spy element of the novel.

Vance’s novel also ran into some serious problems in terms of believability.  Berry and crew aren’t getting into anything lighthearted when they investigate her mother’s death.  As a fiction reader, I’m normally happy to believe that a teenager would make an awesome spy.  In this case, however, it felt like they were getting into problems so deep that it would be hard to navigate them without more knowledge and legal finesse.

Spies and Prejudice is a fast read and worth your time if you enjoy adaptations of Austen’s work.  Although it wasn’t nearly as light-hearted as I would have expected, it was a great take for readers who feel that Austen’s original just needed more action.  Vance’s novel was worth reading once and while I wouldn’t reread it, I would consider picking up further books in the series to see how certain plot threads evolve.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Other reviews:
Candace's Book Blog 
Love Is Not A Triangle
Page Turners Blog

1 comment:

  1. This is a really good review, and you've made me want to read this when I probably wouldn't have given it much time before. Thanks.

    Ann@Blogging E-books



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