Title: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
Genre: Young Adult (YA) Suspense (?)
Synopsis (from ma’ brain): Avery West has grown up without a father and constantly on the move with a military contractor mother. She’s never really had a family; never stayed in one place very long. Naturally, she longs for companionship. Enter, Jack–the new British kid at her school. Avery decided to be rebellious, but it turns out that Jack brought with him a whole host of problems. Now, Avery finds herself running through Europe as she begins to unravel the mysteries of her family and her destiny. Rating: 3.5/5
So when I originally came across this book I decided to pass on it. I was offered the chance to review it as an e-galley but I didn’t think it would be for me. The synopsis did not do a great job of pulling me in here. The cover is super pretty but I just thought “meh, I don’t really want to take this away from someone who wants it just to say I read it early.” The reason I mention any of this is (a.) I don’t think the synopsis does a great job of selling the book (b.) to show how crucial book/promotional tours can be to authors. Recently, I attended the NoVa Teen Book Festival where I had the chance to hear Maggie Hall speak about this book. When she described it with such vigor and excitement, talking about the research she did and the process she engaged in, I knew I needed to pick it up. So I did. Added bonus, she signed it and was so nice and sweet! So see, events do help sell some books. I’m proof. Now, on to my review:
What I liked: Let’s start with the thing I liked the most and work my way to the things I liked and hated because I had really strong mixed feelings about a lot of thing here. That sounds really negative so let me preface this by saying I enjoyed the book, I just enjoyed it more as it progressed.
The research. Holy cow. This book is crazy convoluted, in a crazy good way. Hall clearly spent hours upon hours doing historical research, archaeological research, researching the etymology of words, and simply just going research crazy. As a deep lover of History, I love books that are able to engage with me in that way without it being a second thought, or it being trite. Hall manages to avoid all of this. She interweaves her facts with her fiction so seamlessly that sometimes I forgot that her version of events didn’t actually take place (as far as I know). Where there some parts that were confusing, sure. Did they slow down the book, no. To put it simply, I was blown away by this. I’ve never read a book where every word, action, and even landscape has a larger meaning to the main story–in this case The Circle of 12 and the mystery surrounding the mandate.
The action. After the initial introduction of the characters and first few kind of slow chapters, Hall jumps right into the action. The great thing about this is that she does this without explaining the back story of her character, villains, or the Circle of Twelve which though confusing, keeps the pace of the book going. The plot unfolded organically with Avery discovering more after each excursion. Hall’s story is very complication and I personally am glad she took this approach. If she had explained everything in the beginning I’m not sure I would have continued to read.
Stellan and Jack. Yes, they are hot. Jack has some hot scenes with Avery and they are both just badass. What I like most about the two male characters are that they both crave family. I feel like I rarely see men (or boys) in Young Adult books who openly crave familial ties the way these two do. That’s not to say we don’t have a typical love triangle brewing here, but still, nice to see a softer side.
What I didn’t like: Avery. Okay, let me explain that. I didn’t like Avery through most of the book. I do begin to enjoy her more towards the end, but through a majority of the book I wanted to smack some sense into her. I mean really girl who runs off to Paris with a guy she doesn’t know who wields a knife at her prom. Unless you are Liam Neeson’s daughter, this is not ending well for you. With Avery, I just failed to connect. It’s not until the end when she refuses to abandon Stellan to a terrible fate to save those she loves do I kind of start to come around on her.
Overall confusion. This book requires a careful read and even then I kept being all “whaaaa.” My main issues where with Keepers. I totally felt their role was under-explained. I needed that information kind of first thing.
Overall, I did enjoy this book and I’m glad I picked it up. The synopsis does not do it justice. If you are looking for a light read to blast through, this is not it. “The Conspiracy of Us,” requires and deserves your full attention. 3.5/5