See How They Run
Author: Ally Carter
Release: December 22nd 2015
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, YA
#2 in the Embassy Row trilogy
Series: All Fall Down (#1), Take the Key and Lock Her Up (#3)
Inside every secret, there's a world of trouble. Get ready for the second book in this new series of global proportions--from master of intrigue, New York Times bestselling author Ally Carter.
Grace's past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.
The twists get twistier and the turns get even more shocking in the second thrilling installment of Embassy Row.
This novel is kind of a hot mess, but Ally Carter is nothing if not an extremely talented author — she knows how to weave a tale that is so full of intrigue, conspiracies and murder mysteries that hooks you in with its claws and won't let go.
There's a murder happening very, very early on in the novel which is why I don't feel bad for "spoiling" it, since it happens in the first ~10% of it. And then there's a lot of angst and panic and not much else, making for a very dragging pre-middle part. Like, 30-45% through is a lot of the characters stumbling around in the dark, not really knowing what to do and not really doing anything, either. But, around the halftime mark, it gets a lot better, Grace and her friends start digging for clues as to who murdered the guy and they're digging deep.
And you know what? I loved it. I'm always a sucker for mystery novels such as these, where the gang has to gather evidence and find out the killer's identity and all that, but a lot of authors fail to pull this off convincingly and satisfyingly. Carter does, though, and I really can't complain. Once the action starts up, the pacing is absolutely perfect. There wasn't a single moment where I wasn't literally glued to the pages and reading on and on and I swear I was reading and glancing down at the page count and I was already 96% through and was like "Oh no! But we're nowhere near done yet!" and I was seriously considering if my copy wasn't complete. (Spoiler: It was. Unfortunately.)
The characters, while not brilliant, are definitely strong enough to carry the weight of the book and its plot, Grace actually even developed into a far better main character than she was in the first book, because in a way, she is determined and stubborn, however, not in the bad way. Like, the way of going into danger headfirst and charging right in. Okay, she does do that, but only because she's not aware of the danger — she doesn't actively go seeking trouble out. Her mental state was raw and hit hard, all in all, I really enjoyed her arc. The side characters (by which I mean, her friends) are actually put a lot on the sidelines in favor for other characters to get a chance to shine, such as the Scarred Man from the previous novel, Grace's brother and Alexei, who was already the potential love interest in book 1 but didn't really have that much screentime (as far as I remember at least). He does in this one, and I can't say I minded. I wish Carter had fleshed him out a little more, but I nonetheless found him to be a fun and interesting character. There is one scene pretty far into the novel, with him and Grace in her room and I was so struck by that scene because it was simply ... great. (It's not what you think, by the way) It stuck with me, because it implicitly revealed so much about Alexei as a person, and I loved this type of storytelling Carter made use of.
One thing that keeps nagging at me a bit is the finale, so please only read the spoiler if you've actually finished the whole thing. <spoiler>Okay, so Grace is the "lost princess of Adria," but why does that matter exactly? It's not as if she can prove that she is and make claims to the throne, which, why even should she? I highly doubt Grace feels the need to bask in royal glory, put on a crown and sit on a glorified chair. She's not that ambitious. And why kill her brother, then? 'Cause he's technically the "lost crown prince" or what? And who DID kill Spence, then? I am assuming the actual royal family, especially since they're all immediately whisked out of the palace rather suddenly during the end climax, but really, this final reveal and all that it entailed was a bit rushed and vague. I'm really looking forward to the (hopefully) next book to clear this up.</spoiler>
Anyway, ultimately, I honestly didn't think that I'd end up enjoying this novel as much as I did. With its slow beginning and rather average-sounding premise (it's not like it's the most original plot ever, a murder mystery), I gave up hope pretty quickly, but luckily, I still continued reading and was pleasantly surprised instead. If you dropped it early on because of the boring start, I'd definitely recommend picking it back up again, and if you're only just starting to read, push through the first chapters. It'll be worth, I'd say.