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You Never Told Me!

You Don’t Know My Name is like a Jr. High sleepover: it starts out fun, but by the end it’s just a bit too silly.

You Never Told Me!

BOOK REPORT for You Don’t Know My Name (The Black Angel Chronicles #1) by Kristen Orlando

Cover Story: Low-Key Cover Cosplay Big Face
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Let's Get Physical
Bonus Factor: Mommy Issues
Anti-Bonus Factor: Suspension of Disbelief
Relationship Status: Quitting The Agency

Cover Story: Low-Key Cover Cosplay Big Face

Big Face, ugh. I do appreciate the old spy novel reference there with Fighter, Faker, Student, Spy. But also, this was the book I chose for Day 11 of FYA's Photo-A-Day. I know, #twins, right?

 

A photo posted by Lacey Nadeau (@laceyjean) on

The Deal:

Spoiler alert: I DO know her name! It’s Reagan Hillis, and she’s the daughter of two Black Angels, members of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world. It’s a division of the CIA, but even the president doesn’t know about it! (Mmm hmm, yah right.) Reagan is expected to become an official Black Angel herself in just a few years, which means that before breakfast she runs six miles, does 250 push-ups and practices an hour of Krav Maga. In other words, you will feel really good about yourself reading this book on the couch with a bowl full of salt and vinegar chips in your lap.

About every year or so, Reagan and her family are forced to pick up and move, and change their [last] name again in order to protect their cover. This makes it difficult to make and keep friends. But their current home in New Albany, Ohio, has been safe for two years, and Reagan has found some awesome gal pals, as well as a best friend in the cute JROTC neighbor boy, Luke. And she likes her life as Reagan MacMillan (shout-out to the publisher, much?). So when push comes to get-the-hell-out-of-town, will she choose a life of mortal combat or a life of trivial harmony? Will she even have a choice?

BFF Charm: Yay

Ostensibly, Reagan has learned to push others away because of the secret and transitory life she has always lived. But she definitely doesn’t show signs of those kinds of relational problems. On the contrary, she is a fantastic pal to her current best girlfriends, and it’s clear that she both values them and enjoys them to the fullest extent. She’s got wonderful social skills. I don’t even care that I wouldn’t know her legal surname: she is the type of friend who would both hold my hair back as I puked up Mad Dog 20/20 at a rager AND help me study for our AP bio exam. Also she could kick ass and take names if we ever got, like, attempted-mugged or anything.

Bonus material: Reagan and her friend Harper have a penchant for silly abbreviations that I must admit tickled me. Here is a mini glossary I just wrote up for ya, because I love ya.

PITA – pain in the ass
RTG – ready to go
WGAS – who gives a shit?
SMITH – shoot me in the head
Starbs – Starbucks, obvi

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Luke is as crushworthy as Reagan is … girl-crushworthy? Honestly, these are both teens with solid character, and their relationship is caring, sweet and adorable. A bit of a slow-burn, as well. For a while, Reagan insists to everyone that she and Luke are just RGFs (really good friends). It’s lovely, despite one mishap that gets way overshadowed in the second half of the book by events much more serious than REDACTED.

Talky Talk: Let’s Get Physical

The descriptions of how Reagan felt throughout the book were oddly specific. It eventually became distracting for me. I get that many people feel emotional stress as physical pain, and it’s obvious our heroine is one of them. But some of the descriptions were so awkward, like:

“What does it matter?” I ask, swallowing the sobs that are clawing up my throat, leaving the delicate flesh jagged and sore.

I am familiar with the pain that comes from trying hard not to cry. But jagged and sore? C’mon. Every muscle in her body tightens when she reads this one piece of news that’s [not that] shocking, and her head “throbs with the implausibility” of it all. (Does it, though?) It’s that kind of thing, just a tad too often.

Bonus Factor: Mommy Issues

This story does a great job of showing a complicated mother-daughter relationship. There’s a lot going on in Reagan’s heart and mind, and the issues she has with her mom Elizabeth are not reduced to something one-dimensional or cliché. My heart went out to both child and parent on more than one occasion. There’s this little love note Elizabeth writes to Reagan that mentions how she felt when she was pregnant with her … oh it hit me right in the feels!

Anti-Bonus Factor: Suspension of Disbelief

My big issue with this book was how silly it got at the end. It was serious, heavy stuff, but it was just way too unrealistic. And I was willing to suspend disbelief in a big way! Or so I thought. Once it all ramped up, I found it too far-fetched to be very enjoyable, and the story lost me—right when it meant to hook me for the upcoming sequel.

Casting Call:

Do you know what I really, really want to do? I want to cast cartoons! Can I, please?! Ok, thank you. The spy-noveliest part of the book just made me think so much of Archer, so …

A young Lana Kane as Reagan

A young Sterling Archer as Luke

Relationship Status: Quitting The Agency

Book, I can tell you thought things were great between us, but I think it’s because you were too busy fighting there at the end to pay any attention to me. I admit, I had a blast in the first half of our time together, and I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I won’t be sticking around for the remainder of your mission.

FTC Full Disclosure: I was provided a free review copy from Macmillan, but I received neither money nor a pair of super cool Ray-Bans in exchange. You Don’t Know My Name is available now.

Lacey Nadeau's photo About the Author: It's taken a decade, but Lacey has finally decided she misses the beaches of Southern California where she grew up. (It took only about a minute for her to miss the Mexican food.) However, she's pretty committed to the fun and sun of Denver, CO, where she plays with spreadsheets by day, and drinks boozy slushies with her husband and puppy by night. The puppy just pretends.