The Manolo Matrix, by Julie Kenner

>> Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Givenchy Code was the first Julie Kenner book I really enjoyed. While Kenner did close the action to my satisfaction in that one, there were quite a few unanswered questions there at the end, leaving the door open to more adventures in this particular world. And that's exactly what happens in The Manolo Matrix.

USA Today bestselling author of The Givenchy Code, Julie Kenner reloads for her second novel of high-heeled thrills as another woman gets pulled into a mysterious world of extreme gaming where she must play or die.

Aspiring actress Jennifer Crane knows all about games—the games girls play to get a guy; the games actresses play to land a part; and the good old game of credit-card roulette. (How else is a girl supposed to afford her shoes?) But she never expected to be playing a game with life-or-death consequences. Unable to successfully score an acting gig, she has, instead, been cast in the role of reluctant bodyguard to a real-life assassin's target—a dashing FBI agent of all people!—and must embark with him upon a scavenger hunt across Manhattan in search of the ultimate prize: survival. Before this, Jenn's definition of fighting dirty has been elbowing her way to the front of the line at a Manolo sample sale. Now, if she wants to stay alive, she's going to have to learn a few new uses for her stilettos. . . and they ain't pretty.
Though I had a few doubts at the beginning, I ended up enjoying TMM just as much as TGC. A B+

Jennifer Crane is Mel's roommate and is perfectly aware of what happened to her friend when some nut forced her to play the real-life version of the online game Play.Survive.Win. So when Jennifer receives The Message that she's now playing PSW and has the role of Protector, she doesn't beat about the bush trying to find out what the hell's going on. She immediately knows what's up, and practically flies to see the person indicated as the Target, FBI agent Devlin Brady.

Since Dev is also up to date about what happened to Mel and Stryker (he's actually been investigating the case), once Jen manages to get to him (which takes quite a bit of ingenuity on her part, it must be said), the treasure hunt is on.

So, why my initial doubts about whether I was going to like this? Well, at first glance, the heroine, Jennifer, was much more of a stereotypical chick-lit heroine than Mel was. I mean, Mel was shoe-obsessed and trendy, but she was also a bit of a geek, and a veritable genius. Not Jennifer. She's the type who's proud of the fact that she's ignorant about international events, for instance, which is something I find very hard to identify with! Not that it can't be done, of course (see Betsy Taylor, for instance), but it's hard.

And then there's the fact that there's so much emphasis on musical theatre in the clues, while the focus in TGC was more on NYC in general. And I just have no interest in musical theatre. I know very little about it, and I haven't particularly liked the musicals I've seen. The constant singing bores me (heh, if Jennifer Crane were doing a review of a book with me as the heroine, she'd probably be writing she found it hard to identify with me!).

But well, Jennifer grew on me, and I ended up liking her very much. And despite my ignorance about musicals, I had absolutely no problem following the clues. Plus, they were just so ingenious! I just loved the treasure hunt element in this story.

As in TGC, while this is a very action-packed book and the protagonists are constantly running around, there is really good character development. Jen manages to get some insight on why she hasn't been getting what she's supposed to want so much (a Broadway career), and Dev, who seems to be hell-bent on drinking himself to death at the start of the book, gets a new sense of purpose in his life. Plus, the romance is nicely done.

So, what is Kenner going to do for book 3, The Prada Paradox? We've had the heroine as Target and the hero as Protector in TGC, and in TMM the roles were reversed. Will one of them be the Assassin in TPP? Well, however it is, I can't wait to find out!


Post a Comment

Blog template by

Back to TOP