Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 19 May 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Arabian, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Magic, Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, Thrillers, Young Adult
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Place(s) Traveled To: Las Almas Bay, Unknown
First Line(s): The kid was cute. Her bare, knobbly legs swung back and forth like pendulums between the chipped legs of my client chair.
Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham was a book that I was really looking forward to reading this year as its a debut novel featuring a Muslim-American. Yay diversity!! And while I did like the story I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped I would. Scarlet Undercover was a quick read but it wasn’t as mysterious or suspenseful as I was hoping it would be. Much of the mysterious elements came in the form of characters being cryptic and not revealing what they knew in a timely manner. This just frustrated me to no end because so much could have been avoided if the various characters didn’t keep secrets and just communicated with each other. Also, being cryptic is not the same as laying red herrings and weaving a tapestry of misdirection and false truths until you get to the big reveal.
I did enjoy the character of Scarlett but did find elements of her character to be a bit unrealistic. The secondary characters were also interesting but none of them ever really shined all that bright. While I often enjoyed Scarlett’s voice when looking back I find both her and her friends and family to all be forgettable. There is a romance element to this story but like the overall mystery its a bit lukewarm and falls short of creating that heart achy feels that I so love in a story. Again, the romance and the mystery all suffer from lack of communication and as such the love interest and the story line could have all been easily resolved if people just talked to each other.
The plot pacing of Scarlett Undercover could have also been better. So much happened due to convenience and it often made my eyes roll when events and people just appeared and disappeared exactly when needed. Despite all my high hopes for Scarlett Undercover I was left underwhelmed with the story. I also felt that the ending was a bit rushed and then there were all the unresolved threads. As far as I know Scarlett Undercover is a standalone book but there is definitely enough left open to spawn a sequel or two. Which, if it happens, I’m on the fence on if I would read it or not because while this book was just ok I never really became invested in the story.
I did like that Scarlett was smart and sassy as well as being a diverse heroine. This book was bursting with diversity which is a good thing but sometimes felt a little forced. Just as the paranormal elements of this book felt forced because they were just randomly tossed in and not fully explained or developed. Scarlett Undercover was just an ok read for me but if you are looking for some snarky diversity then you should check it out.