Monday, 9 December 2013

Review: Drawn by Cecilia Gray

Published by: Gray Life, LLC
Release date: 15th December 2013
Series: n/a
I got it from: NetGalley
Goodreads summary:

Take a journey into the gritty world of political espionage through the eyes – and lies – of one extraordinary girl. A wholly original tale of friendship and betrayal from the author of The Jane Austen Academy series....

Sasha has a secret – that she can make you spill your secret with nothing more than a question. Her strange gift makes her a burden to her foster family and a total freak of nature. Not that Sasha cares. Why should she when no one cares about her?

Then the CIA knocks on her door. They want to give Sasha a new identity and drop her into a foreign country to infiltrate a ring of zealous graffiti terrorists. They want to give Sasha something to care about.

To survive a world where no one is who they seem, Sasha needs to make people trust her. But when that trust blossoms into love, Sasha is forced to decide between duty and friendship, between her mind and her heart, and whether to tell the truth or keep her secrets.

My review:
I started this book with some trepidation - I'm not really into political thrillers or espionage, but I fancied a change and Sasha sounded interesting. The book had a definite genre feel to it - some books cross genres and confuse libraries and booksellers, while others seem to fit quite neatly into a category. Drawn, to me, fitted the 'teen spy/agent' category perfectly. And yes, there is such a category, even if it's not official - look at all the books out there featuring teens who are/become secret agents for the government or some other organisation, and you'll know I'm right. So yes, Drawn is a genre book, but I'm not implying that's a bad thing. 

Spy books are fun. They might feature political agendas, but when it's YA you're reading, they're generally not really heavy-going. It's more like teen James Bond than teen... actually I don't know the names of any 'serious' spy thrillers, but I know they exist. Drawn is intriguing because of Sasha's power. Of course there has to be a legitimate reason for a 16 year-old to be getting involved with the CIA, and in this case, it's the fact that whenever she speaks, people tell the truth. It's an inspired talent - I've not read anything like it before, and it works really well for the book. Gray has thought out the idea very well, and the power affects every aspect of Sasha's life. It's surprising how much people keep inside their heads, and it's not until you really think about it that you realise it. How would you feel if you were talking to someone and suddenly blurted out 'you have a really big nose, I can't stop staring at it' or something equally unacceptable? That isn't a quote by the way, just an example. Or if you murdered someone and you buried the body, and you're being held of questioning, and before you know it you're confessing all. This is what happens to people around Sasha, which makes her not exactly a popular person. 

So Drawn deals with issues of isolation and loneliness, feeling separated from everything and everyone. But it deals with them in a sneaky way so you don't realise it's doing it. It also deals with how to deal with the fact that a very hot, very cool guy appears to like you, and you really like him back, but because of your life and your job you have to lie to him about who you really are. Yes, of course there has to be romance, but it's done in a really sweet, non-gushy way. In fact, the romance is very cleverly intertwined with the other aspects of the plot. 

Sasha herself has a great voice - she was a joy to read. Love the way she assesses weapons and exits when she walks into a room - the perfect way to remind us of what she is. She's funny, too, and we really get to know her well. She has the kind of voice that draws me right in and won't let go. I'm longing to read more of her.

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