Monday, January 9, 2017

YOU DON'T KNOW MY NAME BY KRISTEN ORLANDO - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I don't normally judge a book based on its publisher, but going into this book, I was skeptical. The vast majority, if not all the books I've read that SwoonReads has put out were romances. Typical, lovey-dovey, high school romances. So when I saw the synopsis for this book as a spy/ninja/secret service type deal, I was intrigued.

This story follows Reagan, a teen who has been groomed from the time when she was little to strategize, shot a gun and protect herself. She was meant to be the next big member of the Black Angels, a super secret agency that the president doesn't even know about. After jumping from state to state with her parents, Reagan had finally built a life for herself. It was senior year, she had a great group of friends and a cute boy next door. Everything was great. Except for the grey van following her around. And the mysterious janitor who seemed to be watching her.

Things get intense, and just as she begins to fall for Luke, her neighbour, her parents come back from a mission, and Reagan knows it won't be long until they move again. I'll leave it there because there is so much going on, I don't want to give any of it away.

Firstly, I want to talk about the romance. Because this was a SwoonReads book, I knew this aspect would be good. And I was right. There is something to be said about a romance just briefly started before it is shattered. I really liked Luke, he was a super sweet guy and I could tell he really liked Reagan. I think that made things even more heartbreaking and bittersweet. You know they can't really be together, if she tells him what's really going on, they will both be in danger. But the little snippets we do get are adorable as expected.

There is also a lot of family drama in this story, something I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. Not everyone's parents may be secret agents, but the way they have shaped Reagan and their expectations of her will likely hit home for many. They expect her to follow in their footsteps unquestioningly - even if that isn't what she wants to do. Plus, that ending. Oh man, that ending.

I also assumed going into this book that it would be a standalone. I was surprised to see it was the first in a series, but upon finishing it, I can see where there is room for a continuation. The ending was intense, not cliffhangery but wild enough that I am anxious to see where things go.

I do want to talk about the ending a bit more because I think it was unexpected and very brave. A lot of times, when faced with tough decisions, especially at the end of a book, authors will take an easier path, where there are fewer casualties. I was impressed by Orlando's ability to defy those norms and do something drastic. Books that have integral people killed always stick with me, because the author had the guts to push the envelope. And I am glad Orlando had those guts.

The pacing in this book was great, it was just fast enough for me to whip through it in a couple of hours, but slow enough for the chemistry of Luke and Reagan's relationship to stew.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I cannot wait to see what happens next!