Friday Reads: THE CONSPIRACY OF US by Maggie Hall

My resolution for 2015 is all about organization. That means introducing new blog series, switching some style guides, and improving reader experience! You’ll notice that “Write Lara Write” is now “Write, Edit, Repeat.” Same URL to keep things simple (writelarawrite.wordpress.com), but a new name, since this blog is about the crafts of writing and editing, not my personal writing site (which is coming…eventually).

And since it’s not just me anymore, I’m opening the blog up for guest posts! Apply here.

Friday Reads is a new series on Write, Edit, Repeat. I’ll only be blogging about my favorites (no room for negativity here), and I’ll end with a writing prompt. Be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already, and then you won’t miss out. Adult fiction, YA fiction, MG, graphic novels, picture books—I’ll cycle through them all, sometimes posting monthly, sometimes weekly.

For the archive of Friday Reads posts, visit bit.ly/LaraReads.

Today I’m reviewing The Conspiracy of Us, a YA romantic thriller by Maggie Hall, and one of the most highly anticipated YA reads of 2015.

First Impressions

First Impressions walks through my method of judging books by their title, cover, and cover copy before I pick up a book.

The Title

“The Conspiracy of Us” is a strange, yet evocative title (I’ll be using the word “evocative” a lot when talking about covers and titles—sorry/not sorry). The word “conspiracy” suggests the thriller genre akin to The Da Vinci Code; “us” suggests romance or a close relationship. Since this is a romantic thriller, the title is extremely effective with its word choice.

The Cover

Consp

If you couldn’t tell this was a thriller from the word “conspiracy,” you’ll get the worldwide-thriller vibe from the cover. The city overlays, the compass—travel. The skewed phantom text shadowing the title implies mystery or possibly some chase scenes.

And we’ve got the subject, a teen girl in a gorgeous ball gown. Intrigue! Mystery! Travel!

Then you look at the tagline: “An ancient puzzle. A trail of clues. An unwanted destiny.”

So basically a teen girl is part Chosen One, part Indiana Jones. If there’s remotely a connection to Indiana Jones or Han Solo, I am so there.

The Blurb

Instead of breaking down the blurb like I did with After I Do and Maybe in Another Life, we’re going to do the 69 test instead, because it was such a great representation of the book, that’s what the publisher put on the back cover:

Elisa led me to a three-way mirror, where a girl who hardly looked like me stared back in triplicate. In the silver gown, the girl looked more serious, more elegant, then they changed me into the gold dress again, and she was glamorous, striking.

I found myself hoping fiercely that my mom would let me stay for the ball, and even a little longer. Meet the Saxons, find out more about my father’s family and the rest of the Circle. To feel like I belonged in this strange, fascinating world.

“You have to choose eventually.” Elisa smiled. In the mirror, the gold sequins shimmered. But there was something about the silver. It belonged on me.

Aimee unzipped the gold dress and left me to get out of it, following Elisa downstairs to wrap the silver one. I watched it go. I couldn’t believe that, just like that, it was going to be mine.

I was about step out of the gold dress when I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. “Elisa?” I said. “Aimee?” There was no answer.

In case it was one of the men come to escort me down, I zipped the dress up.

The girls were nowhere in sight, but the man who had let us in stood at the top of the staircase.

“Sorry, I’m not ready yet,” I said. I smiled at him, and he reached into his jacket pocket.

He pulled out something that, for a moment, didn’t register. It was too discordant with the marble floors, the dresses, the Bach chiming from the speakers.

It was a knife.

Read more about Maggie’s 69 Test here. And participate in #70Pit in July to share your page 69 or 70 and possibly win edits or get agent requests!

Reading

This was a fun novel to read. If you go in expecting the prophecy and Chosen One tropes (they’re implied right there on the cover), then you probably won’t expect this to be something that it’s not. What it is, is fun. And there really are similarities to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with the Chosen One storyline like The Mummy Returns. Like those movies, there’s slow building romance (yes, please), plenty of sexual tension (all PG-13), some melodrama in parts, chase scenes, murderous bad guys, kinda murderous good guys, and adventure.

Those movies are called popcorn flicks. Not quite sure what the book equivalent is called, but keep your arms inside the vehicle and enjoy the ride.

Recommendations

If you like The Conspiracy of Us, you might like books by Ally Carter.

Writing Prompt

The main character, Avery West, is destined to be important, but she resists her destiny. Write about either 1) a time you were anxious about an outcome you knew was coming but had no power over, or 2) a time you rejected someone else’s plan for you.

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