Thursday, June 6, 2013

Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance

Spies and Prejudice
By Talia Vance
Read: May 2013
Published: June 11, 2013 by Egmont
Source: NetGalley
Category: contemporary retellings, spies, YA

Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either. 

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death. 

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.
(From Goodreads)
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Strawberry Fields (Berry) and her dad run a private detective company, catching cheaters in the act. According to Berry, adults rarely notice teens, which is why she does a lot of the investigating, tailing wayward husbands and employees who have wrongfully claimed disability. The job has made Berry wary of guys, especially attractive ones that remind her of the men that she follows. Berry has a loyal best friend, Mary Chris Moss (she was born on Christmas eve), who also happens to be a genius at creating useful gadgets that make Berry's job easier: listening devices, glasses that take long range photos, a scanner that looks like a phone.  

Two things happen at the start of the book that are big deals in Berry's life. The first is meeting Tanner and Ryan Halston, new guys at school. Ryan and Mary seem taken with each other immediately, and Tanner can't seem to leave Berry alone, despite the fact that she overheard him call her 'nothing amazing.' Berry can't figure him out, but she's pretty sure she doesn't want to anyway. because she doesn't trust guys who are that gorgeous or that sure of themselves. Second, Berry finds out that there may be more to her mother's death than she was initially told. Although Berry is worried what she might find out, she is determined to uncover the truth. What she doesn't expect is the web of lies and danger she discovers in the process. 

Spies and Prejudice is a loose retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and I liked the way that the author played with the original story. Instead of anticipating everything that happens, I was surprised at points along the way. I thought the story was funny amidst the seriousness of Berry's mom's death, and I enjoyed Berry's friend Mary and all of her cool gadgets. I also appreciated the lessons that Berry learns about friendship and loyalty, and the fact that the end of the book is not all wrapped up in a neat bow. I have no idea if there will be a sequel, but I thought this was a realistic conclusion. 

However, I did have some trouble connecting with both Berry and Tanner. They read as a lot less warm as their Jane Austen inspirations. Although Austen's characters are always flawed, I somehow manage to find them endearing anyway. In Spies and Prejudice, I thought that Berry was overly harsh to Tanner at times, and I never felt like I got a good read on Tanner. He ran so hot and cold all the time.  I also thought that Berry's decisions didn't always make sense logically, except for the fact that they helped to move the story in a specific direction. And near the end I had some trouble following the action, especially how and why certain characters got to where they were. 

Like most of Austen books, two potential love interests are initially presented, although one is eventually found to be a bad choice. However, I think it's obvious in this story where the romantic tension lies, and I was never really worried about the other person. Though I did find him to be intriguing. Even so, this book kept me guessing about the characters' secrets, and I wasn't sure I could trust either guy at certain points, which is a great feat for an adaptation. 

I wouldn't count Spies and Prejudice among my favorite spy books, or Austen adaptations. But it was a quick, light read perfect for palate cleansing.

Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: As far as I know, this is a standalone. The story does wrap itself up well, but, room is left open for a sequel. 


15 comments:

  1. I agree that the plot in this one was really clever -- I loved the way she used the original in ways that surprised me. I did feel like the ending left things way open for a second book!

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. Yes! I think my favorite part of this book was that it surprised me. And this could definitely have a sequel. A lot was left open about her family.

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  2. I just finished this and I thought it was a great book, although definitely not the most accurate retelling. Amazing review :)

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one too! I think I like that this wasn't a perfect retelling. It made it more interesting and surprising at times, which I wasn't expecting.

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  3. Oh my, I LOVE Pride and Prejudice -- one of the books that got me into reading. I think I've read it over 5 times alrady. I had no idea this was a retelling of sorts. I love that you always manage to put new books on my radar, Lauren! It's too bad you didn't connect with the MCs as much, but the original is so very powerful that it's hard to compete with that. I actually like when you KNOW who it's going to be in the end since I can't go wrong with a team then lol :D Anyhow, I love your review and congrats for picking my interest.

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    1. I LOVE how much you LOVE P&P it IS such a brilliant classic and one of my favorites too. Have you read many adaptations of the book? I really liked that this one had elements that were unexpected, though it used much of the story structure. i hope you end up liking this one too.

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  4. Okay, so this sounds fun. I'm not the hugest fan of spy stories as you know and sadly I have yet to read Pride and Prejudice (soon!) but this one seems fun and light, just like you mentioned. The cover is actually fun too. I wouldn't rule this one out, but I wonder if one would need to be familiar with P&P first?

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    1. I think you need to read P&P! That should be your next classic to tackle. BUT you do NOT need to have read the classic to enjoy this story. It may be better because you won't be comparing them in your head. Actually, I'm interested to see what someone who hasn't read the original, thinks of this book. Though it IS definitely a spy story, so I'm not sure how you'll react to that. It's a light fun read though, so I think you'll probably enjoy it.

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  5. I have this deep and abiding love for Austen adaptations, so I may need to pick this up. I hadn't heard of it before, so I'm glad you reviewed it. I do wonder, though, if the MC's name will drive me nuts... :P

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    1. You ARE always reading adaptations, which I love about you! You're always letting me know about them. Thankfully the MC is called Berry more than Strawberry, which would have bugged me more. Also, the Beatles connection isn't overly discussed. Is that what would bug you? I thought all the names were funny. I'd love to see what you think of this one, especially because the author managed to make parts of it unexpected.

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  6. Austen adaptations never work out for me, merely because I find character connection so tough. I always avoid such retellings because I know I can never come to love them the way I want. Still, I'm glad this was a sweet pass time read for you, Lauren, despite its flaws!(:

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    1. I've heard you say that before, K. And I can see what you mean. It is tough to separate out the characters, and that was one of my problems with this book. I kept comparing Berry and Tanner and found their personalities to be a bit lacking - or at least less warm. But this wasn't a stressful read, and I liked that it surprised me in places. I'm glad you know what books to read and which to skip.

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  7. I found the alternate love interest to be intriguing as well, even if he was clearly the wrong choice. But yeah, I didn't connect so much with Tanner either. What I did like about Berry was she was a pretty no nonsense kind of girl. She didn't get caught up in a bunch of teenage drama, even though she was in the middle of a high drama situation!

    I think there could definitely be room for a sequel-- lots of open ended stuff regarding Berry's fam. We'll see if that happens.

    You read Vance's paranormal book Silver, right? How did this contemporary compare?

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    1. That's true, I did like that about Berry. I liked that she didn't automatically swoon over the hot guy, or get taken in by by everything going on. Though there were points where I thought she was overly harsh as well. Definitely could be a sequel. I have a lot of questions about some things...keeping it vague. But I kind of like that this one didn't wrap perfectly either.

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  8. That is such a genius idea! Teens spying cheater! I love it! Spies and Prejudices seems light and fun reads and sometimes that exactly what I want. Plus, I'm so glad that you didn't feel like there was a strong love triangle, if I know who the girl will end up with then I'm fine with those triangles. The indecisive ones really frustrated me. Great review, Lauren! I'm really looking forward to it :)

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