Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Long Game (The Fixer, #2)The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear. . . . but some secrets won’t stay buried.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can – and cannot – be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in Washington, but she’s about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.

Warnings: school shooting

The Long Game definitely does not suffer from sequel syndrome – it has an exciting plot that builds up from the previous books, and adds higher stakes to make a delightful confection of a fact-paced exhilarating story. After The Fixer, Tess is now outed to be related to not one, but two big power players in Washington; one is her mother, who is a top-notch Fixer and the other is her paternal grandfather, who is said to be a kingmaker. Naturally, Tess’ sway when it comes to her standing in high school has her being recruited by Asher’s sister for her campaign to be student president, a position more esteemed in a school that has students of politicians. Building up from this school setting, Barnes then mirrors the power play of Washington onto what seems to be a regular student election, but which has implications for more.

The story ups the stakes in this installment, with terrorist attacks, and an upcoming mid-term election that would affect the sitting President’s hold on power. Ivy has been recruited to stop another scandal from breaking out, but for Tess, too, she is doing damage control at school. Combined with that, she wants to take a more active role in Ivy’s work, seeing as she gets caught up in it anyway. The story presents us with unlikely allies, deeply buried secrets, even more shocking betrayals and some predictable twists, but even more unpredictable ones. The baseline is this – trust no one, and take advantage of every foothold. Tess is slowly coming into her own, even as she is backed by powerful players, and learning which battles to pick and which bones to let lie. I loved her development in this book, and even the hint of romance arc (which is another shocker of its own). While this was supposed to be the finale of the duology, the ending still is left open enough for me to wish for more stories in this universe!

In short, an exciting political thriller that I recommend for its high octane plot, amazing twists, and brilliant characterization.

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