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THE BOOK -Stung
by Joss Stirling
Bk. #2 of Struck (companion)
First published in 2015 by Oxford University Press
Genre: YA Mystery
Avg. Rating: 4/5 stars
EDITION I RECEIVED FOR REVIEW -Kindle ARC, 288 pages
Published in 2015 by Oxford University Press
My Rating: 4/5 stars
THE PLOT -Sixteen-year-old Kate has a talent for disappearing. Framed for murder, and hunted by a violent gang, she's running for her life...
Nathan is the young recruit tasked with finding Kate before her enemies track her down. He's determined to stay detached no matter what.
But when Nathan and Kate's paths collide, neither is prepared for the electricity that sparks between them. As the net tightens, can they trust each other long enough to stay alive? Or will their next kiss be their last?
It's no secret that I wasn't a huge fan of the first book Joss Stirling wrote in this world, but I have to say that this companion novel was so much better. Now that Stirling has settled into this world and has given us the basics of the YDA and what they do, there's no more need for lengthy explanations and boring details. What resulted was an exciting novel that I finished in a couple of sittings. Though the writing still wasn't perfect, this book reminded me why I like this author so much. The plot never got boring, and the characters were formed much better. Though not without its flaws, Stung is a novel I would recommend.
This story tells of Kate, a Yoda who was sent on a mission to Indonesia a year ago. Missing ever since, she was recently spotted back in England. Nobody knows the truth of what happened in Indonesia, other than discovering that Kate's partner, Tina had been a traitor. Now, Tina and her brother are dead, and Kate is the prime suspect. The Scorpions - an Indonesian gang in the trafficking business - want her to pay for killing them. Nathan - a Yoda since the beginning - is in charge of her case, and he and his team are determined to find her. When it becomes obvious that there is a leak in the YDA, he and his team, along with Kate and Isaac, do everything they can do plug it before one - or all of them - are found dead.
We met Nathan very briefly in Struck, but only as Kieran and Joe's YDA friend. Nevertheless, it was nice to have met him before, as it kind of tied the world together. Despite still not connecting deeply with the characters, I found myself enjoying Nathan's company. He was loyal, tender, caring, strong... need I go on? He took everything in his stride and it showed in the results. Kate, too, spoke to me. Her distrustful nature was written well, and I loved how smart and cunning she could be. Underneath the surface, however, she's just a vulnerable girl who doesn't know what to do. Her history and connections with the fairground folk was a nice touch, and learning about her background before the YDA definitely helped her feel more real to me.
Despite their relationship feeling too fast (as is the case with all of this author's work, in my opinion), they were right together. They brought out the best in each other. Nathan helped Kate out of her shell, and Kate showed Nathan that not everything was peaches and cream. They worked well together, and their relationship didn't get in the way of that.
If this book hadn't told the story of what happened to Kate in Indonesia, I might not have liked it so much. The mystery shrouding the truth was dense, and it got to a point where all the little hints became boring. When the story was finally revealed, I found myself thoroughly invested. I understood why Kate had fallen for Gani and put her entire mission at risk. He played the fool card very well and made her believe that he needed her help. He used her unfamiliarity of the country and the Scorpions to get her right where he wanted her, using flattery and the pretense of love to ensnare her. It was written very well, and I was beyond impressed with how deep the story actually went.
The final scenes involving the final confrontation and the discovery of the traitor had me on the edge of my seat. I wasn't expecting it, and it was a fantastic conclusion. The ending of this book left me feeling satisfied, with no gaping holes or conspiracy theories filling my mind. I enjoyed this novel from start to finish, and managed to get it read in only a couple of sittings. Definitely recommended, even if you weren't a huge fan of Struck. It's so much better, I promise.