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She’s No Sydney Bristow (But Could Be, With Time)

Kat Carlton’s Two Lies and a Spy takes Mandy C. on an adventure into espionage, but leaves her wishing for a little more maturity. Plus: Win a copy of the book and a sweet smartphone lens!

She’s No Sydney Bristow (But Could Be, With Time)

BOOK REPORT for Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton

Cover Story: Prep School Confusion
BFF Charm: Meh
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: In Her Head
Bonus Factor: Spies, Diversity
Anti-bonus Factor: Starter Book
Relationship Status: I’ll Remain Your Handler, If ...

Cover Story: Prep School Confusion

The uniforms say prep school, and the inclusion of Congress in the background makes me think Ivy League prep. But what’s with the looks on their faces? What are they all looking at? Are the two guys the lies and the girl the spy? I’ve got too many questions.

The Deal:

Kari receives a text message—”Can u pick up milk on ur way home?”—from her dad. Some might think that this is a normal message for a parent to send their kid (disregarding the terrible text speak), but Kari immediately knows that something is wrong. You see, her parents are spies, and this message is part of a “Code Black” plan her family has set up to alert each other when something’s amiss.

Kari immediately leaves her high school and picks up her younger brother, wunderkind Charlie, and goes to the first meeting spot. When the two are almost immediately attacked by a man who works with her parents, she knows that things are even worse than she’d expected.

BFF Charm: Meh

At the start of Two Lies and a Spy, I found myself thinking, OK, this Kari girl could be interesting. Daughter of spies, trained in martial arts and not content to just let things happen to her (i.e., proactive). With each passing chapter, however, I got more frustrated with her lack of ability to follow one of the most well-known rules of spydom: Don’t tell anyone what you are. Kari starts the book keeping her parents’ jobs a secret, but tells pretty much everyone by the end, and I kind of wanted to throttle her for it. She’s still young, though, and has a lot to learn.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Kari’s been madly in love with Mr. Perfect and Popular Luke since, well, forever. He’s sweet, he’s funny, he’s smart—and therefore kind of boring. And when he gets involved in Kari’s plan to free her parents, he gets squeamish about not towing the line, which (to me at least) is a total turnoff.

Luke’s best friend Evan, however, is a snarky English guy with a seriously good fashion sense. Of course, Kari hates him.

Talky Talk: In Her Head

Kat Carlton does pretty well at portraying the innermost thoughts of a somewhat normal teenager with a secret life, but at times I felt like Kari was a little too much of a “good girl” to be believable. For example: Although her friends cursed, Kari used terms like “rear” and “bottom” when talking about her butt (/roll eyes).

Bonus Factor: Spies

There was a point in high school during which I really, really wanted to be a spy. I fantasized about the glamour of it all—which I realize now isn’t exactly the case. This book spoke to the high school part of me that so badly wanted that excitement.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Kari’s half-Russian, her best friend Larita is half-Indian and her other best friend Kale is half-Japanese. Washington, D.C., (where most of Two Lies and a Spy takes place) is a pretty diverse town in reality, so I appreciate Carlton’s efforts to include more than just stereotypical white Ivy Leaguers (Luke and Evan) in the book.

Anti-bonus Factor: Starter Book

The end of Two Lies and a Spy paved the way for a whole series of books with Kari as the main protagonist. So much so that this felt very much like a prequel book and basically a vehicle for that eventual series—which might actually turn out to be a whole lot of fun.

Casting Call:

I just couldn't resist with this first choice.

Michelle Trachtenberg as Kari

CJ Adams as Charlie

Luke Mitchell as Luke

Ben Barnes as Evan

Nishi Munshi as Larita

Keisuke Koide as Kale

Relationship Status: I’ll Remain Your Handler, If ...

Book, I’m totally on board with your exciting story, but at times I felt a little too old for some of your shenanigans. If we’re to continue with our relationship, I’m going to need you to head back to the Farm and get some more training, especially in the whole “keeping important secrets a secret” part of the job.

You can win your very own copy of Two Lies and a Spy and a spy-tastic macro lens for your smartphone. Just leave us a comment below telling us who your favorite pop culture spy is. (James Bond? Sydney Bristow? Harriet?) One lucky winner will be randomly chosen Sept. 5. Make sure to check the comments next Thursday to claim your prize! The giveaway is now closed.

The giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only, sadly. Prizing and samples are courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Simon & Schuster. I received neither popsicles nor money for this review (dammit!). Two Lies and a Spy will be available Sept. 3.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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