Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Squad: Killer Spirit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Saying Toby Klein is an unlikely cheerleader is like saying Paris Hilton might be into guys–understatement of the year. But as a Bayport High cheerleader and an undercover government operative, she’s living a life that’s anything but typical. Being on the Squad has its benefits, but just as Toby is getting the hang of protocol and pep rallies, fate kicks things up a notch.

Grade: C+ // Well...

Note: They sent me Killer Spirit instead of Perfect Cover, so I haven't actually read the first book in this series. Killer Spirit did a good job of standing independently though, and I was able to follow the story pretty well. If you're interested in a review for the first book, my friend Reader Rabbit's got one up here.

Review time!
All right, first thing I'll say is this: If you're worried the spy/cheerleader mix might potentially induce the ick-factor, you've got nothing to worry about. Jennifer Lynn Barnes is pretty good at keeping cheerleading centric to the plot--it's the Squad's entire cover, let's not forget--but not the central point of the story. Roughly translated: it's not pep-squad overload.

However, I did have a couple of problems with the execution. The writing didn't, I think, match the plot. Jennifer Lynn Barnes' writing is too matter-of-fact and a touch too wordy. The middle of the novel sagged and got boring at parts. She's got a great voice, don't get me wrong, but for this particular premise, I thought a tighter, lighter style would've kept the book's flow going better.

The other problem I had was some of the characterization. Sometimes I was confused as to why the character was described one way and then went completely against that description. An example that comes to mind is when Brooke, who is depicted to be super in control of her emotions at all times, begins having to restrain herself from saying something stupid while being reprimanded by the Big Guys. We hear about how tough Brooke is, but at the first confrontation, she's barely able to contain herself. That bugged me.

Though I didn't fall in love with this novel, I still think it deserves 6/10. The writing was lovely (even if not perfect in tone for this story) and you can tell Jennifer Lynn Barnes has talent. I've only heard good things about Golden and Tattoo, so you know. I'll be checking those out sometime!


Amee said...

Hmm...not a real fan of cheerleaders so it's good to know there isn't cheerleader overkill. Can't say I'll ever check the series out though. Great review, I appreciate the honesty. :-)

Axa said...

I like her other books so I'll definitely check this series out.

Steph said...

Ambeen -- yeah, no, Jennifer is good at keeping it all in the undertones. Thanks for the comment!

Booksandlove, you should! I don't mean to discourage anyone from forming their own opinions. This is just mine. You might love it, and if you do, blog about it. A little birdie told me that if the first two books do well, there'd be more. ;)

Nurin said...

lol as you saw from my review, I liked the first book alot.

the second one was kinda worse imo though

;) great, honest review

Steph said...

RR--yep, saw you loved it. Didn't get to read it, though your review makes me wanna. Maybe I'll even really, really love it :)

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