Today, I'm reviewing Talia Vance's Spies and Prejudice. It's an awesome modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, with a mystery element.
Published June 11th 2013 by Egmont
Format read: ARC courtesy of publisher
This has led to some seriously questionable choices on my part, including two hours spent watching the Sense and Sensibility-inspired film, From Prada to Nada.
But it’s also led to some awesome discoveries, like Talia Vance’s Spies and Prejudice. I had vaguely heard about Talia’s work when Silver first came out, but it’s Spies and Prejudice which has truly introduced me to her talent and work as a writer.
Things that worked:
Talia has a gift for writing characters who are smart, intelligent and snarky, without any of the typical teenage angst and drama that are common in YA.
Berry Fields is a smart, likable character, with a strong internal voice. She’s extremely blunt and straightforward, and I loved that she’s basically the epitome of someone who tells it like it is. I think readers will genuinely appreciate the fact that she does rely on her intelligence and wits to get things done.
I loved the secondary character as well, especially Mary Chris. The friendship that she has with Berry was genuine, and in my personal opinion, a good role model for all of the younger readers out there.
Whenever I read scenes that depicted their rapport especially, I wanted to be like, “Guys! This is the type of friend you should be looking for! You need friends whom you can watch cheesy musicals with and who will gladly build you all sorts of cool tech things!”
Tanner’s completely adorable, as well. As the Darcy of Spies, Tanner had some pretty tough shoes to fill. He had to embody the handsome but slightly infuriating persona of Darcy, while still developing as a character in his own right. Vance does a wonderful job – giving him a slightly snarky but humorous personality, and easily shows how Berry could fall for someone like him.
Vance does a fantastic job of plotting this book. The book opens in the middle of a stakeout, which immediately throw the reader into Berry’s world and day-to-day activities.
From there on out, there’s a nice balance of the ordinary – e.g. Berry’s dad dating; Berry trying to avoid dating, combined with the obstacles and plot twists which immediately drives up the stakes.
I thought the balance of including very ordinary things helped to really emphasize some of the tension and shock of the revelations that occurred in the second half of the book, while also amping up the tension of the romance between Berry and Tanner.
I’m a sucker for animals in books, and Lulu absolutely won my heart.
She’s very much a character in her own right, and I find it bittersweet that Vance mentioned at her signing that she adopted a St. Bernard puppy during the course of writing the book, but the puppy passed away due to health issues before the release.
So here’s to you, Lulu! Readers everywhere will remember you!
* The teenage truths
One of the things I love the most about Talia’s writing, is the fact that she trulyunderstands the realities of being a teenager. And she manages to interweave these truths beautifully throughout the course of Spies and Prejudice.
E.g. one of the first things that Berry states, is the fact that she’s a perfect addition to her father’s work, because she’s a teenager and teenagers are basically “invisible” to adults.
For older readers, an observation will probably seem like common sense – you’re a teen, so you’re invisible. But I think the fact that Vance actually puts these types of thoughts out there, is something that will inspire and engage a lot of younger readers who generally believe, they’re alone in having these thoughts.
* The romance
Without giving too many spoilers away, the romance is beautifully understated. Vance shows Berry and Tanner getting to know each other, disliking each other, before falling for each other.
I strongly believe that readers will appreciate the similarities to the Pride and Prejudice characters, while also loving the romance on its own merits.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
But objectively, I do think that the ending felt a little rushed. A fairly large bombshell was dropped near the end, which made me perk up and immediately want to learn more. However, due to (what I assume) were stylistic and time constraints, the book sort of just leaves things unanswered.
However, I do know that there's talk of a tentative sequel, so I believe that Talia dropped the bombshell deliberately, so it would serve as a nice instigator for development in book two.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Spies and Prejudice from Egmont, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!