Aly in Wonderland

Conspiracy Girl

Conspiracy Girl - Sarah Alderson **Thank you Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC in exchange for an honest review**

We can't save everyone. Finn's right. Sometimes it's all we can do to save ourselves.

After the brutal murders of her mother and step-sister, and after the supposed murderers walked free, Nic Preston now lives in New York City, fighting her OCD and stress with high-tech security on her apartment, kick-boxing and a tight routine alongside her guard dog Goz. She's studying psychology and has a tight leash on her life. Nothing else can go wrong. Right?


Here, I am going to admit that the first quarter was not my cup of tea. Nic's internal monologue and slowness of the story just didn't grab me. The fact that I was dealing with a second point of view, too, didn't sit right with me, either. Why? Because Finn comes across as a total dickwad straight away. First impressions are a big deal, and if I were to meet Finn in real life, his first impression on me would probably end up with a shoe hurled at his face.

I mean that in the nicest way possible.

However, the deeper I delved into the story, the more tangled things got. I have no reservations in saying that, although I've only read one other book by her, Conspiracy Girl has got to be Sarah Alderson's best story yet, just for the sheer research that went into it.

We're dealing with pay-offs, mob murders and hackers. What's not to enjoy? And the hacking side of the story is what really made me love it. It's always been interesting for me to learn about these geniuses that hide behind a computer screen, capable of doing absolutely anything, no matter how well protected you think you are. I mean, someone out there could've hacked into your computer, and you wouldn't even know about it. Someone could be looking through your files, digging through your things that you think you're keeping private, or even looking at you through your webcam. It's creepy as fuck. Imagine not having that privacy, the thin veil of anonymity as you sit at your computer, typing away. Imagine if someone can literally strip back all those firewalls, and lay everything out on a silver platter for the whole world to chew on.

Scared yet?

Imagine how Nic Preston felt when, coming home from her daily workout, she realises someone has broken into her apartment. An apartment, may I add, secured to the tens. Not even the nines, but tens. We're talking top-notch security cameras, sensors, passwords. It's impenetrable. Or so she thinks. Because someone has managed to strip away every single bit of security, and threaten her life.

I slam my bedroom door shut and draw the bolt, scrambling towards the panic button that's built into the bedside table and ramming the hell of my hand down on it. Collapsing to my knees, I stare wide-eyed at the door. Three minutes, I tell myself. The armed response unit will be here in three minutes.
The door is reinforced with steel. Nothing, no one, can get through it. The security guy told me my apartment was as safe as the President's nuclear bunker.

People are dead. Shit is real. This isn't a nightmare or a sick manifesting hallucination.

As soon as I throw open the door, Goz flies past me, snarling. He leaps towards the body lying on the floor and I scream, calling him off, even as I throw myself towards the person on the ground.

The FBI are involved, and suddenly she's on the run, jumping from her home to a safe house...

"Well," says Agent Corbell, "something doesn't add up. I don't think we're looking at an ordinary break-and-enter."
Just then Agent Ziv appears behind her. "We good to go?" he asks Agent Corbell.
She looks at me. "Nic, do you want some help packing a bag?"
"What? Why?" I ask, looking between them both.
"We're taking you to a safe house."

And then, inexplicably, to a man's apartment. The very man who helped the supposed murderers of her family walk free.

Bracing myself, I turn around.
"You're the guy who testified for the defence in my mother's trial," she says. "You're the reason her killers walked free."
I sigh under my breath. This is just great. "Guilty," I say, immediately regretting my choice of word.

Finn is a hacker. One of the best in the world, apparently, and his job is to look after Nic whilst the FBI do their thing, and figure out who is behind the hacking of the security systems.

Once I got over my initial impression, I enjoyed reading Finn's point of view a little bit more than Nic's. Even though he's really far too perfect to be even real. But whatever. A girl can dream.

I frown at his driver's licence photo as it pops up on my screen. He has a shiny forehead, is already starting to lose his hair and has a nose you could slalom ski off. She's dating this guy? He looks like the kind of dude who'd spray down the sheets with antiseptic before making love and bleach them straight afterwards.
The king of guy who wouldn't know what to do with a woman if she lay down naked and offered herself to him with an instruction manual.

Oh, Finn. You funny fucker, you.

It's action packed. The moment I thought I could put this down, something else happened and I was immediately sucked into the action.

The characters have depth. Although they may give off the worst first impressions ever (Finn, I'm looking at you), and although their backgrounds are between questionable and downright unbelievable, it still gives them a certain depth so you can really feel them.

There is insta-attraction quickly smothered by insta-revulsion on Nic's side. How refreshing! It takes her a while (and, believe me, staying cooped up with that one person day in and day out for weeks can fix this kind of thing) to really see Finn after everything he, unwillingly and blindly, put her through in the past. Although he's instantly attracted to her body, he, too, keeps his distance. After all, he's working with the FBI and canoodling with someone you're meant to be protecting is a big no-no.

As the story unfolds, it all starts to make sense. Unlike some conspiracy books, you're not left absolutely flabbergasted. As pieces start falling into place, you go, "Ah-HA!" It's absolutely genius, the way it unfolds and how it all begins to make sense.

3.5 stars. I was pleasantly surprised.

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