I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
My name is not Michael Westen and I never have been a spy, but I have had the experience of watching Michael, Annie Walker, James Bond, and any other shoot blanks on some over priced action show. And even though a lot of that crap is fake, I still can tell you without a doubt that those shows are a lot more real than Two Lies and a Spy.
Spy books are probably an Achilles heal of mine in the YA genre. I just can’t help it. Anytime I see a book that involves teenagers and espionage, I usually pick it up. Of course, more often than not I regret it. This book I thought could be okay. I had a feeling that it was going to be on the cheesy side, but I was hoping that it would have a tone that was similar to Meg Cabot’s earlier novels.
But nope. No sarcastic teen dealign with some messed up problems. Just a forty year old trying to act like a sixteen year old in a teenage body, who is so sanctimonious you want to smack her half a dozen times throughout the book. Oh, and yeah, she likes playing dress up and her mom’s like Black Widow.
Yeah, that pretty much summarizes Kari.
And I hate to be so blunt about it, but what am I supposed to do tell you that Kari is a nice wonderful person who is never annoying, obnoxious, or makes horrible life choices, while beating up seemingly everyone in the book without breaking a sweat.
It’s giving me flashbacks to Scarlet and I finished that book almost a week ago.
So, thank you Two Lies and a Spy for making me relive that horrible book. You know, screw you.
And like that book this book had a pretty good set up. It could’ve been entertaining. But it was never fleshed out. Which was a shame. I mean there are lots of ways you could go here. Rather, I felt like this book was almost a novella to its very obvious series since nothing, nothing at all was fleshed out. Save for the outfits that Kari and her brother wear throughout the book.
And I’m sorry, I really don’t want to read about how many times her brother is forced to go drag.
That’s really not the way to make a story. Maybe if he was forced to dress as a duck all day, I’d be a little bit more interested. But as it stands. Nope. Nope.
The actual main plot, the parents being double agents, really wasn’t fleshed out and I thought the ending really was unrealistic and harsh. Once again, it was obviously set up for a sequel, but it wasn’t so much a lack of resolution that bothered me. Instead, rather a lack of plotting in the first place. That shocking ending, really wasn’t that shocking because there was never any development there in the first place.
The same thing could be said about the relationship between Kari and her love interest, Luke. I actually thought the British wannabe Cody Banks, Evan, would’ve been a better match for Kari. After al, Ken Wannabe (Luke) was hardly in the book while there was actually some interaction between Kari and Evan. But at the end, who does Kari kiss? A guy she barely interacted with.
And for that matter, I don’t understand these characters motivations to help Kari. They barely know her. Luke and his sister should’ve resisted helping what appeared to be the daughter of two traitors.
It just didn’t make sense. Much like six teenagers breaking into Langley. Look, there are enough conspiracy theorists on the H2 station trying to break into some Podunk government facility with little to no success, that makes me honestly believe that half a dozen moronic teens and an eight year-old aren’t going to have that much success either. Even if they do dress as a “gross” person.
Oh God. That was something else. Kari is extremely shallow in one scene she has to dress as a heavier person with bad skin and hair and freaks out. To be honest, it sort of disturbed me thinking that a kid as young as eleven or twelve might be reading this and I just wanted to smack her a few times. But given everything else that was going on in this book at the time I just took a sip of spiced eggnog and it was all good.
If your a neophyte when it comes to the spy genre, this might be an okay book to read. You won’t notice as many problems as you would if say you watched Burn Notice religiously during it’s run. Also, a younger audience might like this book more too. I don’t know though. Sometimes I think I label things middle grade to cut a book slack. It’s true that for the most part it’s a pretty appropriate read for younger readers (though a little heavy on the violence), but at the same time I want to just outright state that that’s a lame excuse. I read some great middle grade books. Case in point, the early Harry Potters. I didn’t feel like I was being talked down to when I read about Harry’s adventures like I did here. And Harry definitely wasn’t a forty-year-old in a kids body. So, that just leads me to wonder how exactly I should rate this book even more.
In the end I decided to give it three out of ten (D). I just didn’t like it. And I don’t think it would’ve worked even if I changed that label was changed to middle grade. Quite frankly this one was just sloppy. A little time and effort could’ve given this book what it needed to shine. Instead, it sucked.