The Fixer and The Long Game
I don’t know why I avoided Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s books so long after enjoying her werewolf trilogy for the most part. Seriously, the only good thing that came from me not reading The Fixer back when it came out in 2015 is that I only had to wait a month at most to read the newly-released The Long Game. These two thrillers are fabulous and had better be the start of a spectacular series and not a great duology.
Ignoring the cutthroat world of publishing for now, though – these books were just so readable. I was a bit excited to read this book that was marketed as a YA cross between Scandal and Veronica Mars (and this was actually a pretty good comparison), but as soon as I opened up the first book, I was hooked in a way I was expecting at all. I sped through the first book as well as the second one when I got a hold of it – the only reason I took a minor break from the second book was because it had some triggering stuff I wasn’t expecting (I’m going to include a trigger warning at the very bottom of the review, so ignore that if you don’t want to know what happens at all), but that was really just a break of a day tops.
Tess is a compelling protagonist from the very beginning. She’s a sucker for underdogs, seeing that she’s a bit of an underdog herself, and she will do whatever it takes to protect those that she believes need it. She’s someone who is difficult to get to, though, whether you’re a possible friend or a quasi-long-lost family member. Like many protagonists, though, she seems to attract plenty of interesting characters into her orbit, but I never found myself getting annoyed by the fact that a girl who is so stand-offish manages to amass such a great squad of friends and comrades. The first book is all about developing that group, so it was great seeing the second book where they’re a pretty tight-knit group whose struggles are more external, despite the fact that Tess can still be (pretty understandably) prickly.
Both of the mysteries are compelling, but I admit that some of the antagonists seemed slightly out of left field. It’s not like the bad guys ended up being people we had never seen before, but I felt like the antagonists could have been built better. That being said, I still enjoyed these mysteries and didn’t feel like the reveals totally threw me out of the story, so it wasn’t blatant enough for me to dock the rating too much or anything.
There were some twists that I saw coming as well, especially a rather big one from the first book, but as was the case with the antagonists, I never found myself too annoyed that I figured things out long before Tess did. I was interested in seeing what happened when everyone figured things out, and that was enough to keep me reading without rolling my eyes and yelling at Tess “why don’t you see what’s happening already?!”
The second book ended with an intriguing kind-of-cliffhanger-but-a-slightly-strong-rope-to-keep-you-from-falling-off-that-terrifying-cliff, so I’m totally on board for this series going on and on, or at least for another book or two. So, get out there and read this book and buy it, as I hope to do after being lucky enough to get them from the library, and let’s get more books that mix fixing, politics, and high school so well.
TRIGGER WARNING: school shooting (highlight to read)