Won from Library Things
Hardcover 298 pages
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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.-
Okay first I have to comment on the names. Berry is actually Strawberry Fields. But wait for it, it does get worse. Her best friend is Mari Chris Moss born on Christmas Eve. They've been friends since kindergarten, bonding over their names. I did find that truly funny.
Unfortunately, I didn't really find anything else that was funny. The tone of the novel was dark to me and though there is a romance or romances in it and definite nods to Pride and Prejudice, the romance didn't feel natural, and never seemed to take off to me. The mystery was good, though I knew about the mother, or guessed early on, but that may just be me. I have a certain criteria for guessing what happened and if that thing isn't mentioned then I know the ending. Still, it was surprising the way the reveal came about and who was involved.
Berry is a 16 yr old still not quite over the death of her mother when she was 8 yrs old. Her car drove off a bridge and the police ruled it suicide. Berry works for her father in his PI firm because no one notices a teenager doing surveillance. That I never really warm up to Berry is probably the biggest reason this novel and I aren't a good fit. In her pursuit of the truth, she doesn't care who she steamrolls to get it. She is no Lizzy Bennet. And that she constantly jumps to the wrong conclusion and pushes away the only person who wants to help her is really frustrating. Oh, hmm, maybe she is Lizzy Bennet after all. I think the thing with Berry is that despite the story being told from her point of view, I never feel like I know her. People tell her what they think of her and she says what she thinks people think of her, but we don't get to know who she is.
I think the story suffers from that.
Mari Chris on the other hand, though she is a secondary character to Berry is very much Jane Bennet. She is a gadget geek, gracious, kind, forgiving and a lot less shy than Jane B. but still she tends to remind me of Jane Bennet. Composed, less likely to jump to conclusions and therefore less likely to jump into danger. She's a cool, calm headed girl in the face of a dangerous situation. I felt her romance much more than I felt Berry's.
Jason. I have my biggest complaint here. He feels like the stereotypical gay bestie. He brought nothing new to the story. He did go on a little adventure with Berry, but he was left out of the final showdown. Why?
Tanner and Ryan- Nothing really distinguishes these two from each other except for who they like. Ryan likes Mari Chris and is more successful at wooing her than Tanner is at wooing Berry.
The setting takes place in a high school in California and various places around the small town. Nothing really special about it.
The story as I said is a nod to Pride and Prejudice with Berry trying to find out how her mother died. By accident she learns that her friend's father, Mr. Moss, may have information on how she died or that it wasn't an accident and she begins to investigate. Unfortunately, she hurts her friend in the process as well as ruining her chances at a romance with Tanner and messing up Mari Chris' chances with Ryan.
What worked were the nods to Pride and Prejudice. While sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what exactly is supposed to be a reference to my beloved Pride and Prejudice in retellings or reworkings of the novel, in Spies and Prejudice I had no trouble seeing it. In fact, the basic plot is a modern day version of Pride and Prejudice just with a thriller plot line thrown in as well. Tanner as Darcy was sufficiently arrogant. Ryan as Bingley is good. He's pleasant, friendly, adoring of Mari Chris and only goes away when forced to by....Tanner/Darcy. As I said before Berry is excellent as Lizzy Bennet and Mari Chris makes a great Jane Bennett. But I have no idea where Jason fits into all of this.
What didn't work was the thriller part of the story. It started out great, but quickly became unbelievable. I bought into Berry working for her father. I am a full fledged member of the Nancy Drew fan club! But it got a bit out of hand with what the "kids" where trying to take on and then it was just confusing. I did understand that Berry wanted to know how her mom died. I understood that was HER goal. But I didn't understand what Tanner and Ryan wanted or Drew. And though I realized early on what had probably happened to the mom, I didn't understand why it was handled the way it was.
I missed the humor in this one. Berry was not sarcastic or witty to me. But as I read through other reviews, I found plenty of people that found that humor and wit. So I want to make sure you read those reviews as well. You know novels are not a one size fits all kind of thing. So please check out other reviews. I've included a few below for comparison.
YA Books Central Reviews- Spies and Prejudice
Jen Ryland YA Romantics -Spies and Prejudice
Nala's Book Corner- Spies and Prejudice
Okay, so are you as confused as I am? Yes, so what am I saying? The Pride and Prejudice part worked great for me! The other story, not so much. So really it's a toss up. I definitely didn't feel like I wasted my afternoon by reading this novel. I'd have stopped reading. It was worth reading just to see the modern retelling of P&P and I think it would have worked without the mystery/thriller element. So I say, give it a shot. Since I won my copy I think I'll be passing it on for others to read.
GIVEAWAY- One finished copy of Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance. Just leave your email addy in the comments if you'd like to win a copy. US ONLY.