I’ve got an overdue boo review for one of the best novels I have read thus far this year. This is a spoilerish review. This means that the majority of the review will be spoiler free except for a little spoiler section at the end. There will be warnings. This book is a sequel, however this review won’t spoil anything from the first book. Let’s get into it!
The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Fixer (#2)
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
Publication: June 7th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.
For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.
Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.
I really enjoyed this sequel. The energy was high and the intensity stayed at that level too. I found this book to be less repetitive than its predecessor. YAY improvements! The higher stakes felt more like background for a large majority unlike the first book which was at its forefront. However, the way that the events build and layer up was done so well and this definitely showed how intricately plotted it was. It’s even more intense and action packed than the first book. It’s such a fun and smart book.
Full of suspense and the whole plot was a crazy rollercoaster, thrilling all the way to the end. All the betrayals were so shocking and it hurt so much. It proves that you don’t need romance to create your heartbreak. And I think I approximately predicted absolutely nothing because everything was a surprise. This goes to show that (A) I’m horrible at picking up hints or (B) it’s a majorly unpredictable. I’d like to think that it’s not (A). This book takes some unexpected, dark, twisty turns and escalates so much.
There is so much trauma (for the characters and myself) and drama. However, the drama never felt melodramatic or petty. The tension is right up there. If you’re one for the conspiracies, you need to read this series. It’s full of wild schemes and secrets. And so much violence. The shock factor in this book is off the charts and I believe I spent half the time internally screaming and the other half howling (internally as well, of course). The mind games will mess you up.
The book starts off centred more around high school and its drama but it has a completely different tone to those “typical high school stories”. In fact, sweep all your stereotypes aside because this is nothing like that and it’s actually quite empowering. And I thoroughly enjoyed is place in the novel. I’m very intrigued by all their unique classes and what shenanigans they get up to being in. It’s definitely not your typical school.
As much as this novel is heavily political, the author explains circumstances so concise and interestingly and I love the setting so much.
This is a very lot driven book but we still learn a great deal about the characters.
We have our loveable characters who we want to protect for eternity but they can probably do that themselves. Then there are your loathsome-not-quite-evil-villainous characters who you want to punch. Constantly. And then, the worst group of people characters. The I-rooted-for-you-back-stabbers-why-is-there-a-waterfall-on-my-face characters. Definitely slap worthy. Or worse. Everyone becomes a suspect of something at some point in the novel. The betrayal hurts so much. The characters are so complex and flawed so the different relationship dynamics between each of them are so unique.
Also, I’m just saying but Barnes in NOT afraid to let go of characters. And by “let go”, I mean violently kill them and crush your already dying heart into pieces. Honestly, I felt like Captain Jack Harkness for this novel – being forced to die. Repeatedly.
I still really enjoy reading from Tess’s point of view. She’s so relatable and real. I love her headstrong personality and we get to see some good character development from the first novel. I enjoy how Tess is portrayed as level-headed yet emotional, responsible yet rash and a hard-core fixer but, still an amateur. She’s smart, determined and fierce. But I think what really makes her stand out amongst teenage characters, is her cunning nature. It makes her much more dimensional and I love this ambiguous quality surrounding her.
Ivy takes a bit of a backseat in this novel but her unique relationship between her and Tess is further developed. It’s great and emotional and tough. Yes, in this world – like our world, adults exist. What a total shock.
I was trying to figure out how to describe Henry for the longest time but I have found the perfect title: brooding teenage boy.
Emilia gets more of a spotlight in this book. In fact, a storyline of hers created an interesting path that the book took. I think we got a better glimpse into her character and her vulnerability behind her tough and ambitious exterior.
And we have the other half of the twins: Asher. His humour always seemed to flow naturally and I think it added more than just comic relief. I have some magnificent quotes from Asher but I’m afraid they’re a tad spoilery. I think it summarises his personality and outlook on life. Go down to the spoiler section for some witty quotes.
Vivvie is so sweet and the most precious character in this novel. Don’t you dare hurt her. A piece of dialogue from this angel:
“Does that mean that you’re actually okay, or that you’re stoically projecting that you will be okay at some undefined point in the future?”
We don’t just get the regular “are you actually okay?” or “you’re not okay”. Stoically projecting is the phrase you’re looking for. She shows concern and understands. With a twist of appropriate humour. Don’t we all want to be her friend?
Complete squad goals right here.
There is a character that made a little appearance in the first book but played an unexpected significant role in this novel. I present, John Thomas Wilcox. I’m sorry if that is your name but that name is so pretentious and fits so perfectly with the character. I absolutely love it! On the other hand, I have a distain for him that goes beyond coherent words and I want to slap him so badly.
A romance does eventually develop, but let’s just say that it’s a unique one.
This book was easy to read and the chapters were quite short. I really like JLB’s writing style. It’s easy to follow yet a complex novel and super addicting. I flew through it. The writing feels relevant without attempts to “sound more YA” by adding irrelevant pop references. Instead, it’s honest and outright which really helps you engage with the characters. She writes humour and light-hearted scenes fantastically and they blend in so well. There are excellent one liner revelations that make your jaw drop past the group. And then a chain of explosions in the distance. A notable quote of writing:
“This is the message you were asked to deliver?” Daniela raised an eyebrow to aristocratic heights”
Aristocratic heights – I spent a good minute or so just looking at the page and laughing. I can’t even deal.
Although there isn’t a boring moment in this novel, it really starts to pick up around the halfway point and subplots start merging. Stuff goes down.
– – – – – – – – – – – – SPOILERS AHEAD! – – – – – – – – – – – –
3… 2… 1…
Some witty remarks from Mr Asher Rhodes:
“I come in peace!” Asher announced on the front porch. “Your friendly neighbourhood rogue, recently suspected of murder!”
“You’ve reached Asher Rhodes. I’m off being interrogated for crimes I didn’t commit, but if you leave your name and number, I will get back to you as soon as possible”
OTHER SPOILERY STUFF:
HENRY HOW DARE YOU?!?
I guess you can tell I have strong feelings about Henry’s betrayal. I was so mad at him at that point in the novel. Even now, these feelings have not diminished. Look I don’t completely agree with Henry becoming full on traitor and falling for the “misunderstood terrorists” who are actually on a good mission. As emotionally hurt he was, he was a smart guy and he intellect doesn’t ever fail him. I just can’t. What is that hole in my chest? Just my heart being thrown and smashed into smithereens. But sure, I’m okay.
So, after that relationship crashed and burned, we need to talk about reactions. More specifically, Tess’s reaction. I was so pleased with the way she handled things and her low-key viciousness was on pointe. For a couple of moments, I was in total admiration for her before I went back to shame and disappointment in Henry.
“This secret stays with us,” I said, trailing my fingers over his jaw one last time. “But, Henry? You and I are done.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – END OF SPOILERS! – – – – – – – – – – – –
All I’ve said is high praise for this book so you might be wondering what’s up with the half star off? It was so, so close to being a 5-star book for me but personally I found some of the revelations and twists to be unfounded coming out of the blue. I would have preferred even a tiny hint to make the reveal more plausible. Also, there were times that the twists did seem ridiculous. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh but that bit did bother me. Nonetheless, the book was amazing.
The amount of times I said whaaaat was uncountable by the end of the novel. In fact, it’s been difficult to write this review because I was in a state of whaaaat for a long period of time after reading this novel.
Even if you are an amazing conspiracy theorist, you’ve got nothing on this book I guarantee. It’s completely outrageous in the best possible way. I need another book in this series SO MUCH. One of my qualms are the amount of loose ends created at the end. And arghhh. Calming down now. I know a sequel is highly unlikely as the author has already said but I need to know more about what’s going to happen next. The ending teases so much of what could happen and it has so much potential. I. NEED. ANSWERS. If not another book, I would like a personal conversation with Jennifer Lynn Barnes because I need to know. I’ve found no YA novel like it.
How good are you at predicting thriller mystery books? Have you ever tried a political thriller novel? What did you think about the events of this novel and wrapping up this series? Comment below!
* I am a Book Depository affiliate