ARC review: You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando

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Seventeen-year-old Reagan is your typical teenage girl. She’s in high school, trying to decide where to go to college. She goes to parties and gossips with her friends. She’s got a crush on the boy next door. Oh yeah, and she’s also a highly skilled Black Angel operative-in-training. While most teenagers head home from school and watch tv, hang out with their friends, or do their homework, Reagan heads to intensive training sessions. She practices Krav Maga, runs several miles, and has target practice on a shooting range. Then she can go back to her normal life.

This has been Reagan’s life for as long as she can remember. Both of her parents are Black Angels, and they go where the danger takes them. One day they can be happily living in New York, and the next thing Reagan knows, they’ll be packing up to move to Ohio. But Reagan’s getting to a point where she no longer wants to put up with this constant inconsistency. She wants to live somewhere permanently. She wants to have long-term friendships. She doesn’t necessarily want to follow in her parents’ footsteps, but it’s not so much of a choice as an assumption that she’ll do just that.

I’ve read a few of these “secret teenage spy” books, and I think that You Don’t Know My Name is one of the better ones. It’s not perfect, for sure (see my three-star rating), but Reagan came across as believable and her actions, though annoying at times, seemed realistic for a teenage girl. As I would expect in a YA story of this nature, there isn’t a lot backing up the action. The reasons for certain tactical decisions aren’t really thought out, and it’s often up to Savior Reagan to rescue the pitiful adults from their incompetence. (I thought they were internationally-renowned secret agents!) I can’t really hold this against the book too much, though, because like I said, this is a 320-page YA spy thriller and not one of those massive 1000-page thrillers that patients are always leaving in my waiting room.

The story is generally pretty fast-paced, making it a fairly quick read. There are sections that fumble a bit in the middle, but overall, I had more desire to find out what happened next than I did to put it down. Kristen Orlando certainly didn’t dial down the drama and violence for the YA audience, with some pretty shocking scenes toward the end. Keep that in mind if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing.

I don’t know that I’ll read the next book in this series, but You Don’t Know My Name was a worthwhile use of my time.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

Thanks to Netgalley and Swoon Reads for the ARC.

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