Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: YA Historical | Suspense-Mystery
Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.
When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.
Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?
From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.
|More like 2.5|
- I liked the idea of a teen spy. There were a lot of women who helped the Allies win the war so Samantha was a plausible character.
- I liked the German setting and background, being inside enemy lines at such a tense time is nerve wracking! Samantha is just 17, recruited from Girl Guide directly, no experience to boast of. Germany is a big deal and I admire her gumption very much. I don't think I'd be able to sleep, eat, or breathe if it were me.
- I loved that there was no romance. Samantha had a thing with a dude named Maxwell, but it didn't really go beyond gingerbreads and a short conversation in the hallway. I loved that Samantha has her priorities straight and used logic over the pull of attraction she has with Maxwell. Outside the story, thanks TBrown for doing away with it, IMHO it wouldn't work well with the plot.
- I liked the twist on Velvet's identity. TBrown held on to that secret until the last minute and it was a good surprise.
On to the not so enjoyable parts for me...
- With all the spying and working undercover I found VELVET UNDERCOVER to be flat. It mysterious, but wasn't suspenseful as I expected it to be. I feel the story to be too calculated that it took away the character drive the blurb hinted on.
- The stunted setting played a big part IMHO and I wish it went beyond a few German phrases. Samantha is in Germany spying for the Allies in the midst of WWI! The atmosphere should be thick with tension even if Samantha was mostly inside palace walls. I would think the situation is more prevalent inside the Kaiser's adobe than anywhere else.
- Lastly, my first meeting with Samantha wasn't fantastic. I found her irritating at first, and for a top Girl Guide whose father is also a spy, some of her questions felt very uninformed like she came across like some girl MI5 picked up on the street versus a credible and viable candidate for the position.
Overall, I liked the notion of giving interest to such a very important part of history. VELVET UNDERCOVER might not be a true story, but it can pique the interest of a young adult to research and know more about such a pivotal moment that changed the landscape of the world. I just felt like there were key elements missed that would've made the novel suspenseful of thrilling. Harriet The Spy is a better mole than Samantha Donaldson.