Kaia has been on the run her whole life. The daughter of professional assassins, she knows danger—and she’ll do anything to survive. After her parents vanished during a job gone bad, Kaia’s spent the last year in hiding, trying to blend in as an ordinary teenager, and there’s no one who makes her feel more normal, more special, than her boyfriend, Oliver.
But when she’s attacked by someone from her mother’s past and Oliver catches her fighting back, Kaia’s secret is exposed. In a split-second decision, she flees the small town, taking Oliver with her. Stalked at every turn, Oliver and Kaia must protect each other…or die trying
Pretty Fierce has a high-speed on-the-run plot, filled with danger and assassins, with the alternating voices of Kaia and Oliver. This alternating POV helped, because on one hand you have Kaia, the experienced daughter of two ex-CIA-operatives-turned-private-assassins, and on the other you have Oliver, who literally is a fish out of water in this scenario. The first half of the book had me hooked – they were on the run from leagues of thugs coming after her, and trying to stay one step ahead and figuring out the why of it. Oliver and Kaia, though deeply in love, had hidden things about their pasts from each other, so in a way, this is like them learning new stuff about each other, painful things that they didn’t bring out. The second half is where it sort of fell apart for me, because if until that time the plot was mildly-believable in its Jason Bourne glory, it got a bit more unbelievable. Ironically, the first half was more unpredictable than the first, and the second was mostly what I would expect from a standard action flick.
As for the writing, Scott always impresses with her characterization. You can see the painful loneliness in Kaia, the desire to hold on to family, and you can see Oliver’s helplessness in the situation, his fear that he won’t be enough for her. Their relationship is a very comfortable one, and though there are fights arising from miscommunication, they behave realistically and resolve it, instead of creating unnecessary angst. And even though they are romantic partners, this book doesn’t feel heavy on romance at all, which was a nice change. The danger took the main focus of the plot, as it should have. The ending, however, was a bit out there with everything wrapped up so fast in the last two chapters, and though I was already sure what was going to happen, I ended up disappointed. It is also left open-ended, which considering what the plot had revealed just towards the end, did not sit well with the implication on their lives.
Overall, though, if you love spy-like thrillers, with car chases and hiding out, you are probably going to love this book.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Sourcebooks Fire, via Netgalley.