Sam is an orphan, raised by a pharmaceutical research mission in the little jungle island of Torundi, located somewhere between Oceania and Southeast Asia. Her life is quite peacefully divided between assisting the mission in their research and providing the occasional medical care to the local population. Until, after an unexpected encounter with a stranger, Sam is sent to an American boarding school in Malaysia, with no explanation whatsoever and strict instructions not to contact anyone back on Torundi.
Determined to discover the reasons behind her banishment, Sam must learn how to juggle life as a high-school senior and her search for the truth, which might just include a secretive but very attractive lab assistant, an enigmatic corporation with illicit designs on Torundi, and a possible civil war in her beloved island.
The premise behind this book was great: young girl grown in the jungle gets thrown into an elite high school and has to discover a terrible secret surrounding her home. As if just being a senior wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t help but feeling a little disappointed with how this was developed.
As far as the story goes, it was fairly entertaining, with some passages even being very funny. Sam is a quirky girl, not used to a very high standard of comfort, and so her reactions to the life she is presented with in her incredibly posh boarding school were really hilarious for me. Nonetheless, I found that it actually lacked a bit of depth, with some major twists being actually very predictable (I won’t say much more than this, but I’m looking at you, Gabe!).
The blurb referred to this book as presenting “espionage elements akin to The Bourne Identity“. It may just be me, but I couldn’t really see much of that going on: the only espionage Sam actually seems to do throughout the book is to repeatedly question Gabe (not very inconspicuously, I might add) until he decides to give her all the answers she is looking for. Not exactly a Bourne-like investigation to me. I’m all for independent female characters, and I love badass girls in books, but I just couldn’t see Sam that way. I seemed to me she spent an inordinate amount of story time trying to show how tough she was, while really all she kept doing was getting into trouble and needing to be rescued.
Also, I found the characters to be really underdeveloped. Now, this may not be an issue for other readers, but I’m a real characters girl and if I cannot connect with them, I’ll be very unlikely to enjoy the book. Apart from my issues with the main character, I had a really hard time liking the secondary characters as well. They were just too one-dimensional for me, and I couldn’t really see how their relations with Sam developed. My biggest problem in this respect was with her room-mates: they seemed to spend all their time talking about shopping and boys and dragging Sam around, while she is thinking about her home / love life / how to escape from them and then, all of a sudden, they’re best friends and they can’t wait to have a reunion as soon as they graduate. Just when did a bond this deep develop???
Overall, this wasn’t a bad book. I actually read through it quite quickly and it did keep me entertained, and even had me laughing at some points. But it had just too many things that didn’t work for me. I’m not really sure if the ending was supposed to be a cliffhanger or whether this will remain a standalone novel, but if a sequel were to come out, I would be unlikely to read it.