Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on July 7th 2015
Genres: Politics & Government, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 372 •Format: Paperback •Source: Purchased
This thriller YA is Scandal meets Veronica Mars.
Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather's ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.
And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess's classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.
Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for this compelling teen drama with a political twist.
The Fixer was one of those books that I glossed over SO many times in the course of the past year because the cover does nothing to grab me. I definitely fell victim to judging a book by a cover for this novel, because when my aunt was kind enough to purchase it for me at this summer’s scholastic warehouse sale, I dove in mildly curious and ended up finishing it in less than three days, during a very jam packed vacation. The Fixer brought me back to my earlier reading days when I used to devour political and historical novels like nobody’s business (I went through a major Dan Brown phase like everybody else in the mid-2000s).
Set in Washington D.C., The Fixer follows Tess Kendrick who is forced to move from her ranch home in Montana to D.C. with her sister, who is an affluent political player with her “special PR services” that she provides to Washington’s best and brightest. Tess enrolls in a high school attended by the children of Washington’s elite, and soon becomes known for having a similar reputation to her sister- headstrong, resourceful, and doesn’t take no for an answer. Along the way Tess inadvertently becomes entangled with a multi-layered plot that involves murder and espionage in the United State’s capitol, as one does in a YA novel.
What really resonated for me about this novel was that I genuinely LIKED Tess. I find that it’s hard to write a likeable protagonist, despite author’s best intentions. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read where I’ve adored the writing but became anywhere from vaguely to supremely annoyed with the protagonist. Tess, however, is just the right amount of empathy, intelligence, and real talk that I found myself not only wanting to have her as a friend but wanting to BE her. She is a bad ass without coming off as trying too hard to be one, and without being a “special snowflake” who can do no wrong. It’s hard to describe, but I think you’d be hard pressed to dislike Tess if you read this novel.
The political elements were well balanced with the family relationships side of the plot, and always stayed within the realm of being believable to the story, if not completely plausible in real life. I loved getting to read about the friends and enemies that Tess makes at school, and how integrated they were into Washington’s power players via their parents, such as the daughter of the Vice President, the son of the minority whip, etc. I loved seeing Tess put the elements of the mystery together and see how her suspicions impacted her dynamic with her sister, who she doesn’t really know if she can trust or not. It was also great to see some good old fashioned spying and espionage (and there was even a scene with a ball of sorts. You know it’s going to be a good mystery if there’s a ballgown involved at some point). Though I was able to guess some of the major political plot points, they were done so well that I still immensely enjoyed the story.
What impressed me most about Barnes’ writing is that she is able to add thrilling political mystery elements and still find time to focus on building strong relationships between her characters. Tess and Ivy’s relationship is fraught with tension and miscommunication, but you can still tell that feelings run deep between them. Tess’ friendships at school feel genuine and were a highlight of the story, especially Asher’s blithe sarcastic optimism. Perhaps the best part is that while there were definitely several male leads who Barnes’ could have paired Tess up with, she didn’t bring a romance into the plot because THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES AT HAND WHEN YOU ARE UNCOVERING A GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY. Praise the literary Gods that an author finally realized dire situation > high school romance View Spoiler »and let me tell you, I was really worried about a love triangle for a while there between Tess, Henry, and Asher. « Hide Spoiler
Overall: The Fixer is one of those novels with the rare combination of great characters development, solid relationship, and twisty plot elements. I have a total girl crush on Tess. She’s the YA heroine that breaks all the negative stereotypes of YA heroines. I loved the mystery elements, and having visited D.C. last summer I felt the descriptions were pretty spot on and could really picture the happenings in the novel. My only tiny complaint is that I was a little letdown on who one of the major antagonists was (I wanted it to be someone a bit more scandalous) but this book was so fantastic and I’ve already placed a hold for the sequel at my local library.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Goodreads Challenge 2016
- Rock My TBR 2016