Sara’s Review of Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance
Living in a household that is filled with Jane Austen fans, there was no way I could let this title go by and not check it out. And I’m so very glad that I did because it was a fun unique read. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put the book down. Fans of YA, Jane Austen, and spy novels in general will enjoy this delightful nod to one of Austen’s best-loved tales, murr!
The main thing that I enjoyed about this book was that it was not a YA retelling of Auten’s novel Pride and Prejudice. Yes, Vance uses the classic novel as the basic foundation of her story and her characters have many of the qualities of Austen’s characters, but she puts enough of a spin on everything that someone who has never read the original story would not know recognize this as an adaptation. Meanwhile fans of the classic will easily be able to identify who is who and enjoy the blending of the story they know and love with Vance’s unique twist.
Berry (Strawberry Fields) is a smart and sarcastic character whom I liked instantly. She’s also extremely stubborn and not above putting herself in danger in order to get what she wants. I particularly enjoyed the scenes where she’s engaged in spy work, both for her dad and for her own search for answers to what happened to her mother. Tanner was a bit hit or miss with me. It wasn’t that he’s not a great character, but he was missing that spark which pulls me into liking a character. Still, my interest in him picked up a bit when the truth about who he was came to light. There’s something to be said about a guy with secrets…I just wish I could have connected to him faster. Berry’s friends Mare (Mary Chris Moss…how cool a name is this?!) and Jason were by far my favorite characters in the book. I loved that Mare was into inventing and could create all sorts of cool gadgets and Jason instantly won my heart simply because of his personality. He also reminded me of a lot of my human’s friends from school. Ryan was also a fun character to get to know. I just wish that he had shown up more in the book.
As for the story itself, I liked it though I felt like there were a few moments that needed a bit more flushing out, especially towards the end. The scenes involving Drew are one such example. I don’t want to go into too much detail because then I’d be giving away a spoiler, but I will say that I had a difficult time seeing Drew as a bad guy because his actions didn’t strike me as matching what he was being accused of trying to do. At least not entirely. Actually, if I’m to be honest, I found his entire involvement in the story to be confusing. I know which Austen character Drew was supposed to portray, but his involvement in the story didn’t really work for me. It felt almost like Drew was there just to add a bit more drama to the main plot rather than assist in the unveiling of things. His appearance leading up towards Berry learning the truth about her mother was rather awkward and disjointed, and it kind took focus away from the main problem.
Still, as far as Austen adaptations go, this is one of my favorites. And I really liked how the story ends in a way that allows for the chance of a follow-up novel. If Vance were to continue doing adaptations of Austen’s novels with Berry, Tanner, and the rest of the crew as the characters, I’d definitely check them out, murr! But at the same time, if she chose not to do another adaptation and just write a second novel for these characters I’d be alright with that as well. As long as there was the chance for more adventures with everyone, I’d be a happy feline.
And with having said that, I have to give this story 4 paws and a tail wave of approval for a job well done! =^.^=