The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Author: Maggie Hall
Series: The Conspiracy of Us (#1)
Read: February 4th-5th
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: Jan 13th, 2015
Genre: mystery, contemporary
Rating: ★★☆

 In short: pretty average. An annoying heroine, hints of a love triangle, insta-love…you name it, this book’s got it. Not in a good way.

GoodreadsA fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance–perfect for fans of Ally Carter

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family–but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.

Firstly, I resent that Ally Carter comparison, because Ally’s heroines aren’t downright TSTL this is way more fantastical than Ally’s books. Not to mention slow to start, with little to no information and…several faults. And secondly, where the blurb starts makes the book sound interesting. It doesn’t get to there until about a quarter of the way in, and that first quarter? Snore. Look, I don’t expect every book to get straight to it. But if your beginning isn’t good enough, I’m a) less likely to stay on and b) more likely to be critical of things that might not have bothered me as much if I’d enjoyed the beginning. And the plot literally drifts around from the Louvre to Istanbul for no apparent reason until halfway though. Why???

So, Avery is your average teenager, except she and her mom move around a lot and she’s never met her dad. Of course Avery resents her mom for carting her around, but she has a plan: don’t get attached. That fails, because in Maine, she has a crush on swoony new guy Jack (yawn). When her mom tells her—on prom night, which swoony Jack has asked her to—they’re moving, Avery throws a hissy fit and sneaks out to prom anyway. At prom, swoony Jack and a mysterious guy she saw on the road that day have a strange argument about her. They tell her that they know her father’s family and either can take her to them. Avery opts for the slightly more logical—but no less downright idiotic—choice of going with swoony Jack, whom she has at least known for longer than a day. And then swoony Jack tells her she should go with the other guy, mysterious Stellan. She doesn’t know where they’re going. She doesn’t know who they’re meeting. She doesn’t know who that guy is. And what does this idiot do? Go with him, of course! 

People who make choices like this probably end up abducted. If Gayle Forman’s Just One Day were a real story and not idealised romance, that’s what would’ve happened. But at least the heroine in that book considered the possibility and worried about it. Avery does not for a second question swoony Jack’s motives, even though she heard him talking on the phone in a British accent—which any undercover agent would hide even if they thought they were alone—and suspects he’s lying to her re: phone call. She doesn’t even suspect mysterious Stellan! She gets on a plane with a guy she does not know! She gets on a plane with a guy she does not know having never left the country in her life! Honestly, does this girl have straw for brains? This is what we call TSTL, or too stupid to live. Decisions like those in the world, girl would’ve never made it to thirteen. The book tries to explain this away in an equally ridiculous fashion: Stellan says he can sense the toska in her, supposed longing for a change in her sad, lonely existence. Yes, if that longing was a death wish.

Toska (Russian)
1.“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause.” -Nabokov
2. Russian for YOLO.¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

Evidently Stellan subscribes to definition #2. *Sarcasm.

The Conspiracy of Us finally gets to the point around halfway, when Avery and swoony Jack find clues to some ancient scavenger hunt. See, Avery might just be the subject of an ancient prophecy called the mandate, which says that if a girl with purple eyes marries ‘The One’ of the Circle, they’re invincible. (Sidenote: a heroine with purple eyes are you serious.) So this could’ve been enjoyable—okay, I would’ve rolled my eyes at the prophecy regardless—but it had a strangely childish feel to it. A treasure hunt on a global scale is great in theory, but the one in this book was reminiscent of The 39 Clues. Not to mention that the prophecy itself makes this entire ‘adventure’ revolve around lurve and sets us up for my least favourite thing ever: the love triangle between an engaged couple and the guy/girl the main character truly loves but it is forbidden oh no! Yeah, I got bored of that sometime around Romeo and Juliet. Also the Jack/Avery romance is so cheesy and groan-worthy! I loathe when the couple literally has nothing going but physical attraction and some unbelievable dialogue along the lines of I love how brave you are!!

Also, the family names…this is more like a pet peeve and it’ll sound really nitpicky, but…how do I even address this? The English family are called the Saxons. The French, the Dauphins. The Saudi, the Emirs. Come on, a little more creativity? It makes them sound like clans in a video game, really. (Also, the ambiguously-named Rajesh family. Why.) It doesn’t even take much research to figure out the big guns in the countries mentioned, and finding surnames amongst said big guns isn’t much harder.

Really, the only thing going for this book is the twist at the end. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re into bad romance heavy romance-heavy books. And if you’re an Ally Carter fan, it still might not appeal to you, really. I like to think her books aren’t so ridiculous. I will not be continuing this series, buhbye.

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