I’m a fan of comfort zones. I’m not a huge adventurer and don’t take pleasure in running risks, even the small ones. I usually don’t venture away from my favorite genres, like fantasy and science fiction. I shy away from reading other genres, and I know that I should be dabbling in all different methods of writing and storytelling. Usually I wouldn’t pick a book off a shelf about modern day assassins and say “hey, this random book looks good!” because that’s simply not my thing.
But when Brianna Merritt, one of my favorite writers/bloggers/Twitter friends asked me to read and review her book Unsanctioned Eyes before its release date (which is JUNE 27: TODAY!!!!) I didn’t really know what the book was about, but the cover was beautiful and anything written by Ms. Merritt was bound to be good. I gave it a shot. And was held in suspense the whole time. When I finished it, all I could think about was “WOW. That was SOOO good” and “WHERE IS THE SEQUEL.”
Quinn Rogers doesn’t exist. There are no records of her name. Her DNA has no match. She is a ghost. A phantom killer no one can trace. The perfect assassin. Or so she thinks.
At the top of her game, Quinn’s no longer looking over her shoulder. Her master will protect her, save her, like he always has. But there are forces at work neither of them suspect.
Can Quinn find the truth in a world of lies? Or will her unsanctioned past catch up to her in the end?
When I first started reading, I found myself diving headfirst into the story. All other factors considered, I think I was pulled in not because of the characterS, setting, or action in the first couple scenes, but because of the writing style. Each sentence was concise and yet jam packed with action, character development and plot progression, making up for a clear and fast-paced narrative. This style was kept up throughout the whole book. It was also told in first person, which I can handle just as well as third person, but it was masterfully done.
Let’s talk about the characters, though. The main character (Quinn Rogers) is a bloodthirsty monster. I found her unpleasant and horrifically dislikable. And yet there was something redeemable in her. Every main character had an arc, I knew, and I could just see an event that would soon take place that would eventually change her for the better. And yet what actually did happen to get her character arc to reach its peak was totally unexpected. During one of her assignments in which she was ordered to kill a dealer with the IFM, she received an unwanted witness: Nathan, an 18-year-old American artist and former homeschooler who was studying abroad in London. Letting a witness who had seen her at her deadliest run off would be the worse possible decision Quinn could make at the moment, and so Nathan was taken hostage.
Nathan was my favorite thing about the book. He’s the one who ultimately turned Quinn Rogers around and brought back memories of her first assignment that had turned her into the bloodthristy monster she is now. Over time, she becomes fearful of the memories she sees in the eyes of her victims and eventually becomes physically unable to carry out murder assignments. I also like how Christianity was portrayed through Nathan’s character. He’s a Christian and talks about God and how he’s not afraid of death because he knows where he’s going. At first, Quinn dismisses it as nonsense talk, but later on she begins to seriously consider the importance in the young man’s faith.
As for the other characters, none of them really seemed to be of much importance until about halfway through the book. Matt, Jason, and Garrett are Quinn’s co-workers who also murder and hack their way through life under Rourke, the most corrupt of them all. Half way through, Jason appears to fall for Quinn, and over time, both he, Matt, and Garrett work together with Quinn to save Nathan and quit their job with Rourke at the risk of their lives, forming a band of people who actually do care for each other. Quinn’s not the only one with the arc.
The plot though! It was emotion-packed, fast paced, driven, and heavy. We first see Andrea Abrams as a sniper in the military in Afghanistan; later, we see her as a guiltless, fearless murderer who seems to enjoy ripping souls from bodies. When a young, innocent young man appears in her life, however, she starts to see things from different perspectives. The hostage even causes her co-workers, who seemed just as callous and monstrous as the main character, to band as a team to save said hostage, planning together to destroy their boss and all the heartless plans he had in store. Whether or not they succeed or die in the end is a matter of spoilers. Another way of putting that is asking you to go buy the book and read it yourself.
At the end, you can see this as a contemporary action thriller, but beneath it all is the message that it is impossible to walk through this life alone, and that faith in Him will give you everlasting fearlessness and clarity through life and what it did to Quinn Rogers. I gave Unsanctioned Eyes a rating of 4 1/2 stars and please do check it out on Amazon! Also, hop on Brianna Merritt’s blog and social media; did you know she’s a ballet teacher? Mash that with a writer of action-packed stories about assassins and there’s one awesome human.
Also, I had the honor of having her write a guest post for me a while back about dreams and Finding Neverland, and it’s so beautiful I thought I’d share it here to.
What is your favorite genre and what other genres have you never tried before? Would you read Unsanctioned Eyes? Hey, at least give a two thumbs up for the cover. It’s beautiful. Comment below with any thoughts. Thanks for reading!