Girl from Nowhere is billed as an action/romance; this is true, but in a very delineated way. The first half of the book focuses on establishing the romance and the second half of the book is almost exclusively action.
The romance is a bit of a struggle from the reader’s perspective with weak dialogue, the protagonist’s early odd and combative interactions with Aksel (the male lead), and an excessive focus on the attractive physical features of Aksel. A sense of real chemistry never really is achieved, which is odd because there are reasons these two characters would be attracted to each other. Perhaps it is the characterization of Sophia in the first part of the book. Although she is recovering from a trauma, it is incongruent that such a well-traveled, trained individual would have such a motor mouth and drop so much information randomly and behave so erratically. In fact, the competent Sophia in the last part of the book seems almost like a different person. Perhaps the author was trying to show Sophia achieving a turning-point in her recovery, but it just seemed too different without a sufficient transformation bridge and added to the feeling of two books and two different characters. A few other aspects and inconsistencies in the first half of the book added to a stilted cadence.
However, the action section of the book flies by in a Bourne Identity or Mission Impossible-style barrage of events, encounters, and escapes (cue the motorcycle chase). The author’s writing is stronger and fluid in this arena, and there are some satisfying and surprising little twists in the plot. Even when Sophia takes some impulsive action, it feels authentic given the tensity of the situations and the emotional wringer she has been put through in a short period of time. Most questions are answered and only a few minor holes are left unfilled; this book doesn’t feel like a set-up for a sequel, but it ended in a way such that a sequel could be an option.
This novel definitely requires the reader to suspend their disbelief on page one, but it is easy, escapist fiction and a don’t-take-me-too-seriously beach read that is a quick read perfect for checking out of reality for a bit.
Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Bloomsbury YA
Profanity/Language: 4 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name.
Note: Derogatory names in foreign languages not tallied.
Violence/Gore: Character has many instances of recall of past violence in her life including remembering seeing someone’s blood splattered all over her bare shins, parent shooting someone in the back of the head, hiding, seeing bodies face down in the water, gunshots; character mauled by a bear, minor injuries no blood; character is followed; character sleeps with gun under their pillow; minor head injury with bleeding; character recounts in an extended scene situation in which she had to kill someone with a handgun; character carries knife for protection and occasionally pulls it out; discussion about nuclear weapons and terrorist activities; verbal threats exchange accompanied by knife, gun; extended scene in which character tells another about how she was kidnapped, beat, touched (general), verbally taunted/tortured, cut, and escaped by cutting someone on the face; characters says they will kill someone if they ever see them; character apologizes for not killing someone; in anger character throws objects at wall; character throws phone at parent; pursuit and kidnapping; character tells about the murder of a family by terrorists, some details and blood mentioned; report of torture; character suggest that another character commit suicide and the character does.
Approximately the last 40% of the book is ultimately an extended action scene involving a chase, gunshots, injuries, knife fights, bleeding, physical fighting, kidnapping, deaths, teenagers killing adults, adults harming teenager, bombs, beating, numerous injuries, numerous deaths, some brief descriptions and mention of blood.
Sex/Nudity: Many instances where a character notices another’s attractiveness and physical features (eyes, jawline, broad build, etc.); character dances flirtatiously; character comments he wishes the swim team wore bikinis; hands on face, back, waist, etc.; character looks at herself naked before getting into bathtub (non-sexual); characters tease another about her association with a boy; boy touches girls butt and puts arm around (unwelcomed); characters hold hands; characters kiss, several instances.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death, death of a parent, murder, lying, treason/betrayal, terrorism, espionage, kidnapping, suicide.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Adult smokes; adult drinks alcohol.