Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall - Review

A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance--perfect for fans of Ally Carter

Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family--but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she's falling in love with.

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This book had me flopping back and forth between being exasperated with the narrator and being completely enamored by the setting and lore. The Conspiracy of Us lived up to my expectations for the action packed, whirlwind adventure (the Conspiracy) while falling a little short for me on the character and relationship front (the Us). 

Maggie created a complex world surrounding the Twelve families and the relation to historical figures and lore. Once Avery is in Europe, I was pulled into the story.  The mysterious prophecy the political and familial tensions, the international scope of this secret society all drew me in. I enjoyed the pace at which Maggie decided to reveal all the facets of this conspiracy - some were predicable and some were not and I liked that readers can follow along and also be surprised. The lore is original while also being believable and I think she handled the action and adventure well. The foreign setting came alive and she played with the darker side of glamorous cities, such as Paris and Istanbul.

The characters fell a little short for me. Avery is headstrong and stubborn and her character seemed real and relatable at the beginning of the story.  However, the dialogue and actions with her and other characters as the story progressed seemed a tad one-dimensional to me.  I could understand the distance between her and her mother, since it's her mother's job that forces them to move all the time, but the suspicious way her mother acts and the way in which she tells Avery they have to move again, despite Avery's response, seemed a little strange to me. Likewise, Avery's relationship with the many boys that barge into her life seemed rushed.  I didn't really care who she wants to be with or who wants to be with her or what's forbidden. While I like all the characters independently, when they interact with one another I don't get a sense of camaraderie, hesitancy, or romantic tension - all feelings I feel like were supposed to be there. The strongest relationship for me was between Avery and Mr. Emerson, her former neighbor, who happens to be never actually appear in the present narrative and yet has the strongest parental/mentor/friend position. The part that caught me the most of guard, though, was Avery's recklessness and cluelessness. She has decided to blend into the background and then decides that she wants to know everything about a father that has never been in the picture and really has no need to be. I can understand her sort of snapping, of grabbing onto this anger and stubbornness and newfound sense of adventure, but her actions had me (literally) face palming. Even with her (newfound) spontaneity and (overwhelming) curiosity, she kept making decisions that seemed dangerous and unnecessary, decisions that seemed to be in place to move the narrative but were not necessarily believable. Her character seemed inconsistent to me, extremely intelligent (she always does the reading) and good at riddles and puzzles but not putting certain (fairly obvious) things together and doing stupid things (like spontaneously going to France with a boy she doesn't know, among other things). While many a great heroine's journey have started by randomly getting on a plane to a foreign country with a stranger, I didn't quite believe her reasons or emotions behind it. I felt that with a few extra pages, I could have learned a lot about all the characters and really fallen in love with them.

Hall's masterful mystery making and action scenes help support characters who would otherwise drive me completely crazy. While I wish a little more time was spent with character building and adding depth and believability Avery and all her new relationships, the story was exciting and interesting. I'm excited to see where the next books takes Avery and how her character will grow and change as the stakes get higher and she learns more and more about this conspiracy of which she's found herself in the middle. The threats are only getting higher and the riddles more complex and I can't wait to see what Maggie has in store. 
Disclaimer: This was the first review I've had to write where I didn't immediately fall in love with the book. It's strange, because I adore Maggie Hall. It was a weird experience, differentiating an author from their work. You want to support and encourage but also have your own opinions and IT IS VERY HARD. That is all.
Find out more about Maggie and her works here:

Hello! I'm Maggie Hall. I'm a YA writer.

My debut novel THE CONSPIRACY OF US, which features scheming and code-breaking, Paris and Istanbul, and forbidden love and fate, is coming from Putnam/Penguin January 13, 2015. It's the first in a trilogy.

I've just come back to Albuquerque, NM after a year of traveling around the world with my husband.

When I'm home, you can usually find me DIY-ing something off Pinterest, or learning to cook new, delicious things, or watching USC football. (Fight on!)

Chat with me on Twitter, at @MaggieEHall
-Find travel and cat and food photos on my Instagram at @maggieehall
-See my writing Pinterest board (and a bunch of foodie and design boards) on my Pinterest
-Check out Game of Thrones and Teen Wolf gifs and the occasional book news on my tumblr
-Hang out with me and a dozen other YA writers at YA Misfits-Read about my round-the-world adventures on our travel blog (where my husband does most of the blogging) at It's Adventure Time

Happy Reading!


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