Review: “The Athena Protocol” by Shamim Sarif

The Athena ProtocolTitle: The Athena Protocol
Author: Shamim Sarif
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC access provided by the publisher as part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s blog tour. All opinions expressed are my own.

Shamim Sarif serves up fast-paced, action-packed spy thriller in her YA debut The Athena Protocol.

Jessie Archer is a member of the Athena Protocol, an elite organization of female spies who enact vigilante justice around the world.

Athena operatives are never supposed to shoot to kill – so when Jessie can’t stop herself from pulling the trigger, she gets kicked out of the organization, right before a huge mission to take down a human trafficker in Belgrade.

Jessie needs to right her wrong and prove herself, so she starts her own investigation into the trafficking. But going rogue means she has no one to watch her back as she delves into the horrors she uncovers. Meanwhile, her former teammates have been ordered to bring her down. Jessie must face danger from all ides if she’s to complete her mission – and survive.

This was one of my most anticipated books this year. A spy thriller featuring female spies? You got my attention. Someone from the team turns rogue and the other members are ordered to bring her down? SIGN ME UP!

The Athena Protocol was an enjoyable read. Thrilling, fast-paced, so full of heart-pumping action and delicious plot twists. I gobbled up all the spy part – the cool gadgets, Jessie’s amazing ways with a computer and the net, all the spying and sneaking around and bringing down the bad guys.

But more than all the kickass stuff, this book is about female bonds: the strength of it, the depth of it.

The Athena Protocol #3

The bond between the three female spies – Hala, Caitlin, and Jessie – was easily my most favorite part of this book. They weren’t perfect: they fight and argue and have differing opinions and ways of doing things. Coming from different backgrounds and factoring in their unique personalities, it’s something that couldn’t be helped. Caitlin acted as the lever, balancing and tempering her teammates, oftentimes running as a mediator and acting as team leader when they are out in the field.  Hala was closed-off and guarded, controlled and distrustful, cold even. She’s had it toughest among the three and her beginnings are a big part of who she is and how she processes things.

Then there’s Jessie.

Jessie is a compelling protagonist. Fiery, headstrong, and soldier-like in efficiency, she is a competent agent with a deep sense of justice. Her impulsiveness, however, led her to break rules and cross lines, her decisions blowing right back in her face and putting her at odds with her teammates and superiors.

I admit I didn’t like Jessie – her impulsivity and her immaturity both are strikes against her in my book – but it does not take away what a good character she is. She’s an effective story mover. She advanced scene after scene and, with her unpredictability, kept everything exciting while doing so. However, for all her talk of wanting to do better, Jessie’s character growth was minimal at best. She kept on committing the same mistakes throughout the book, never learning from them, and it stagnated her progress.

The Athena Protocol quote #2

This book took a while before it hooked its claws on me. Especially considering that this was told from a first-person POV, an almost infallible way to draw my full attention in, it moved like molasses. The narration felt more like a rundown of what a character, blurring the details – the feel and movement of the scene playing in the MC’s background – that add texture to the story. This lasts until the halfway mark where things, thankfully, start to finally pick up.

The F/F relationship between Jessie and Paulina, the daughter of the story’s villain, added an extra kick to this story. The pair’s dynamics kind of reminded me of Killing Eve’s Eve Polastri and Villanelle, only they’re a lighter version. The twist involving these two right about the last 50 or so pages of the book was something I did not see coming and truly surprises me in a very good way.

The Athena Protocol quote #1

Overall, The Athena Protocol stayed true to what it advertised itself to be – a compulsive YA thriller that’ll have its readers biting their nails. The bond its characters had is this book’s greatest strength. However, the slow start and the lack of character growth took its toll on me and impacted my reading enjoyment. Still, even if I didn’t love this book as much as I thought I would, I think it will find its audience in YA thriller fans especially those who crave spy stories.

about the author

Shamim SarifSHAMIM SARIF is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and director born in the UK.

Her debut novel, The World Unseen was inspired by her family’s South African Indian heritage. The book won a Betty Trask award and the Pendleton May First Novel award.

Shamim has adapted and directed the films of all three of her novels including, most recently, Despite the Falling Snow. The book was published by Headline in the UK and St. Martin’s Press in the US. The movie stars Rebecca Ferguson and Charles Dance in a story of love and betrayal in cold war Russia. Her films have won 47 awards internationally.

An accomplished speaker, Shamim has spoken at TED events worldwide, at the INK Conference in India and DLD in Munich. Corporate speaking events have included Deloitte, Goldman Sacs, Citibank, and Disney.

Shamim lives in London with her wife, Hanan, and their two sons.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

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Giveaway ends October 16th.

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October 8th

In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
The YA Obsessed – Review

 

Review: “You Asked for Perfect”‘ by Laura Silverman

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Title: You Asked for Perfect
Author: Laura Silverman
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
TW: Anxiety, recreational drug use
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

 

Utterly realistic and relatable, Laura Silverman tackles the pressures and difficulties teens face in their academic lives in her sophomore title You Asked for Perfect.

Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

It’s been a handful of years now since I finished high school. I wasn’t an exceptional student, but I still remember most of it – the struggle to fit in, competing with your classmates, balancing acads with extra curriculars, the pressure of maintaining high grades and a high weighted average to get into a good university. High school was tough and I was only happy, probably too happy, when I finally walked off with my diploma.

I guess, that’s what I was expecting from You Asked for Perfect when I started reading it:  tackle high school life – the good, the bad and everything in between. And that was exactly what I got! A very likable set of diverse characters, an adorable M/M romance and a whole load of Harry Potter references, there’s just so much to love in this book.

Where was this book when I was in high school myself? 

You Asked for Perfect was a refreshing yet still realistic take on academic anxiety and how the demand and struggle for perfection negatively affects young people. Laura Silverman explored this topic with much care and sensitivity while keeping the story fun and quirky.

Ariel was such a relatable character. Anyone, doesn’t matter how young or not young, will surely see a little of themselves in him (as well as the rest of the characters.) Ariel was smart, talented and funny; self-conscious and highly critical of himself. Reading his story took me back to the past and brought forth into memory a younger version of myself and of coffee-fueled late nights studying for an exam, cramming my head with information.

That I reminisced about high school, a part of my academic life that I’d much rather forget, was a testament to how well and effective Silverman crafted her characters. She brought to life colorful characters, characters that you can imagine living their own stories separate from Ariel’s. Rasha, Malka, Sook, Amir and (my namesake) Rachel – I was invested in what will happen to them and how well they will fare. It was just so much easier to care about a character when you feel like you know them, and that can only happen if they were fully fleshed out.

The romance part of this book was also another thing I loved. Ariel and Amir were ultra cute! These two totally had me shipping them from the very first time they appeared on the same page. And it was so adorable, how they got together! But while Amir plays an important part in Ariel’s life, their relationship played out on the sidelines – a critical subplot there to support the main story – and I appreciate that Silverman remained true to the focus of her story.

There’s much, much more to love about You Asked for Perfect. Diversity and representation, for one, with all the mains and secondary characters coming from different cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations (Ariel, Amir, Rasha, Malka and Isaac are all Jewish, Pari is Muslim, and Sook is Korean. Ariel is bisexual, Amir gay and Sook, a lesbian)  and I’m a 100% down for it. I also love all of the parts involving the parents in this book. Supportive and still very human, very flawed parents – it’s something that I wouldn’t mind reading more in the future.

Overall, You Asked for Perfect is an honest and lighthearted YA contemporary. With a diverse cast of characters, adorable romance and a plot most would be able to relate to, this book is an awesome read. I definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone, but most especially to contemporary lovers. You’ll fall in love with this book!

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Here’s a bonus playlist for y’all, inspired by Ariel and his great musical taste + a few songs that, I think, fits Amir and Ariel!

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About the Author:

Laura SilvermanLAURA SILVERMAN is an author and editor and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. Her books include Girl Out of Water, You Asked for Perfect, and It’s a Whole Spiel. Girl Out of Water was a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

 

 

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