Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drawn by Cecilia Gray

The Basics:
Drawn by Cecilia Gray
Gray Life, LLC
Mystery/Thriller, YA
Published December 15, 2013

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Take a journey into the gritty world of political espionage through the eyes – and lies – of one extraordinary girl. A wholly original tale of friendship and betrayal.

Sasha has a secret – that she can make you spill your secret with nothing more than a question. Her strange gift makes her a burden to her foster family and a total freak of nature. Not that Sasha cares. Why should she when no one cares about her?

Then the CIA knocks on her door. They want to give Sasha a new identity and drop her into a foreign country to infiltrate a ring of zealous graffiti terrorists. They want to give Sasha something to care about.

To survive a world where no one is who they seem, Sasha needs to make people trust her. But when that trust blossoms into love, Sasha is forced to decide between duty and friendship, between her mind and her heart, and whether to tell the truth or keep her secrets.

Why I picked it up:

Having read two books from Gray's Jane Austen Academy series, I was curious about this standalone foray into the paranormal. The story also sounded like something I hadn't read before, and that appealed to me.

What worked for me:

Sasha is the star of this entertaining tale, and rightfully so. Told from her perspective, we get an intimate view of what it's like to live a life of isolation, to pretend that all that matters is keeping your focus on the future, on your goals rather than on how you live your day-to-day life.

This story is heartbreakingly good. I was rooting for Sasha to get everything she wanted in the end. I know this is meant as a standalone, but I don't feel done with Sasha, even though I felt a sense of closure here. That's the mark of a good story, in my opinion. I could spend hours happily daydreaming about what happens *next* for this girl wonder.

Drawn has all the key elements of a YA novel - we've got potential romance, a potential bff or worst enemy, secret agendas, childhood traumas.... It all comes together, leveraging the superhero genre in a really fun and, I thought, unique way.

Sasha's interest in comic books and her identification with superheroes is a clever bit of awareness. I hate when characters don't see the obvious connections, and that Sasha embraces and relishes the similarities between herself and comic heroes made me very happy.

What didn't work for me:

There's one question left open at the end of the book, and while it's entirely appropriate for it to be left open, I wanted an obvious cue regarding it. I don't want to be specific because I'd have to spoil things, so... you know.... But I'd *love* to discuss this one in more depth, so if you've read it, hit me back in the comments, or drop me an email so we can talk!

Bottom line:

I strongly recommend this one. Gray's hit the perfect combination of teen angst, spy shenanigans and a little something more...paranormal?  Sasha's longing for a real connection makes this story so engaging and relatable regardless of how fantastic her adventure is.

5 stars
For fans of teen spy thrillers, superhero stories, comic books....

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