Okay, here we go — my first ever ARC review! I requested and received a digital ARC of “Unsanctioned Eyes,” by indie author Brianna Merritt. It’s a military/assassin thriller, contemporary, and I’d say definitely adult (but it’s acceptable for probably 17 and up).
This was unlike, I think, anything I’d ever read before. Well, honestly, I generally don’t read this type of novel, so that says a lot in itself. But still, I’d hesitate to concretely put this work in a genre of just “action” or “thriller”.
“Unsanctioned Eyes” is the story of a disillusioned young woman who goes from being in the military to being an assassin. She is ruthless at her new job; she even seems to enjoy it. (I have to admit, I was a little surprised that such an innocent-looking author created such a brutal character!) Andrea Abrams becomes Quinn Rogers (after her death being faked), and the “perks” of her position as hired mercenary include world travel, luxury hotel stays, and driving fancy sports cars.
Quinn is definitely set up to be an anti-hero. She’s no Jason Bourne — she kills whoever she’s assigned to kill, no second thoughts, no remorse, no guilt. It appears.
But by a quarter of the way into this evocative prose, it’s pretty clear there’s something massively disturbed sitting in the pit of Quinn’s soul, and it’s starting to make itself known.
By halfway through, we’ve come to know there’s much more to Quinn/Andrea than meets the eye. It’s gritty, it’s so hard to read, it’s true, and it hurts all of us — her, the other characters, the reader.
I won’t say what one of the plot twists is (to prevent spoilers), but I will say that Quinn’s journey towards dredging up all of that broken and torturous mire starts when a regular mission goes awry, and she finds herself in the company of some unusual players in her life.
The end carries some surprises, too. There will be a sequel (it states on the cover by declaring the subtitle: “The Dragonfly: Book One”), and I know Quinn has a whole lot of very intense, rather nasty stuff to get through, both internally and externally, as…well, again, without throwing in spoilers…but her life is very different by the last page than it was on the first.
To be quite honest, I’m not sure if I’ll read the sequel or not; it is purely because the subject matter just wasn’t for me, in a lot of ways. But please, please don’t consider that a negative review — this novel is at every turn exciting, full of intrigue, tons of violence (for those that do like that), and packed with some seriously heavy and realistic emotional stuff. (With my hand on a Bible, I solemnly invoke the Autistic Reader Disclaimer as my reason for appreciating this book, but not being able to love it.) There are also several scenes with pretty good quips, and a few of the characters definitely have a sense of humor that many readers will relate to.
“Unsanctioned Eyes” is slated for release June 27th.
You can reach Brianna at: briannamerritt.com, or her Twitter handle is @briannawriting