Carter, Ally. See How They Run. New York: Scholastic Press, 2015. 978-0-545-65484-5. $17.99. 323p. Gr. 7 and up.
It’s time for the lady librarian assassins, at least that’s what Grace Blakely thinks after learning of a secret society of Adrian women formed at the inception of Adria and still in existence today. Women who shoot powerful men (i.e. Ms. Chancellor) to protect secrets; secrets of the past, secrets of the present, and secrets that have been lost to history. Grace’s mom, Caroline, had been a member of the society prior to her death, a death Grace can’t live down since she caused it. Now, it’s Grace’s turn to carry on the tradition of Adrian women to protect their land, their country, their men, and their secrets. In the follow up to All Fall Down, book 1 of Carter’s Embassy Row series, Grace Blakely finds herself two weeks after learning the truth of her mother’s death. As she deals with the mental exhaustion of her realization, her brother, Jamie, and his friend, John Spencer (Spence), from West Point, arrive. Grace knows this is not a friendly visit, but welcomes her brother home. That is until Spence kisses Grace, Alexei witnesses it, fights Spence, and the next morning Spence’s body washes up on the shore of Valencia. Now it’s up to Grace and her motley crew of friends: Lila and Noah, the Israeli and Brazilian ambassadors twins, Rosie, the German ambassadors daughter, and Megan, daughter of a US embassy worker, to clear Alexei’s name and find Spence’s actual killer. But, as with everything from her past, Grace quickly learns that things aren’t quite so easy, and perhaps, Spence was never the intended target. THOUGHTS: Carter’s follow-up lacks in some basic developmental areas, but overall will keep readers interested and wanting more, especially at the end (which is somewhat predictable, but still entertaining).
Realistic Fiction; Mystery Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City
I loved Ally Carter’s Heist Society novels because, although they all connected, they could also all stand-alone. A reader needn’t read them in order to understand what is happening and keep up with the story (although it doesn’t hurt). With Embassy Row, I feel like Carter lost something, some of her Heist Society magic. First, the books have to be read in order, and readers will probably need to re-read each text before the next one because of the cliff-hanger endings (or at least the final chapters). I understand that “cliff-hangers” are important to series, but they aren’t a requirement, and I think Carter could have done amazing things with this new series, much like she did with Heist Society, if she would have tied things up a bit better. Ending a novel doesn’t take anything away from it. Second, Carter’s timeline is too condensed to be believable. Two weeks ago Grace finds out she was the cause of her mother’s death (no spoilers here – read All Fall Down to find out how). Now, she’s in the midst of a secret society, her brother is back, his friend from West Point washes up dead on the shores of Valancia, and her best friend and his is wanted for killing a US citizen. Too much too fast Ally Carter. If it was six months later or a year, sure, I’d believe it, but not two weeks later. Thus the “realistic” part of realistic fiction goes away. Third, Grace herself as the narrator is irritating. She is selfish and whiny; get over it. Yes, your mother is dead; that’s awful, but quit making everything about you and what happened to cause her death. This is part of the reason why the setting of the novel bothers me so much. Give Grace time to heal before the next novel and next death. Finally, fill in the holes and don’t make the ending so predictable. There are way too many holes with the history of Adria and the society. Take some of the random pages of description and use them to explain what’s going on. Also, Dominic…just explain something with him and why he’s following Grace. It’s creepy without an explanation. Overall, See How They Run is exciting at the end, but not nearly as fullfilling as All Fall Down was through the entire novel. I liked the idea of the secret society, but apparently I need Dan Brown to write that portion for me to be intrigued. Hopefully, book three will not disappoint (and tie everything together).
One final note, why is it recently second books in series aren’t nearly as good as books one and three?