Friday, October 21, 2016

#Saturday Review - They Call Me Alexandra Gastone by T.A. Maclagan #YALit #Mystery

Series: Alexandra Gastone # 1
Format: Kindle, 226 pages
Release Date: May 20, 2015
Publisher: Full Fathom Five Digital
Source: Amazon
Genre: YA, Mystery, Contemporary

When your life is a lie, how do you know what’s real?

Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation.

She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash.

Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency.

For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing.

But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now.

Between her cover as a high school girl—juggling a homecoming dance, history reports, and an increasingly suspicious boyfriend—and her mission in this high-stakes spy game, the boundaries of her two lives are beginning to blur.

Will she stay true to the country she barely remembers, or has her loyalty shattered along with her identity?

“For the blood of the fallen. For the blood of the living. For Olissa we fight.”

They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is the first installment in author T.A. Maclagan's Alexandra Gastone duology. 17-year old Milena Rokva was given away by her father when she was only 7 years old. She was given to an organization called Perun who may be called freedom fighters in some circles. They claim to be fighting for Olissa independence from the US, who stood in while other countries tried to take over the country. Milena was trained to become a sleeper agent, and took the place of the real Alexandra Gastone when her family was killed.

"Lex" has always been thought of as necessary, especially by the woman who pushed her to her limits. She's necessary in order to get close to Albert Gastone, a public liaison and analyst at the CIA. She's supposed to go to college, and then apply to the CIA where she will become a mole for Perun. But, after being given the order to assassinate a foreign leader who is visting DC, while blaming her "grandfather" and then taking the responsibility, Lex's heart is torn to pieces. Is she faithful to Perun who trained her? Is she faithful to Albert who has done nothing but loved her and given her everything she ever wanted?

"I'd played a part for so long, who was I? A spy? A granddaughter? A high school student? A friend? A liar? A traitor? I was all of these people, and the contradictions where starting to rip me apart."

They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is an interesting story because no matter how hard you train someone to do a certain job, and try to break them to do what you want, they will always have free choice of finding other avenues to follow instead. I have to admit something. I actually really liked Grant as Lex's boyfriend. I admit that I have often found the characterization of Quarterbacks to be ego driven, steroid for brains, male sluts who want to sleep with the entire female population, and little of anything else. In this case, Grant is sweet and fun, and supportive even though he is totally out of his depth with Lex.

I also deeply care for Albert. He is such an adorable man, who has given his heart and his time to Lex and even goes as far as takes her around the globe! I love that he teachers her to question everything, which makes sense when so many plot twists are thrown at you by the author. I am curious about the setting of this book. Even though this reads as a contemporary/mystery, this story is set against the back drop of a major war in the Middle East. (shocking, right?) It is set against the back drop of $6.00 per gallon gasoline, which the media once screamed about earlier this decade. So, I ask the author, is this an alternative reality setting? Or a futuristic world?

This book reminds me a whole lot of the cold war stories I used to read as a kid. You never knew what was going to happen next, or whether or not your neighbor was actually a Russian sleeper agent. I am all in for the sequel, and I do hope the little surprise the author comes as a support mechanism for Lex, and not another difficult challenge.

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