Rummanah Aasi
Description: Jessie Archer is a member of the Athena Protocol, an elite organization of female spies who enact vigilante justice around the world. Athena operatives are never supposed to shoot to kill—so when Jessie can’t stop herself from pulling the trigger, she gets kicked out of the organization, right before a huge mission to take down a human trafficker in Belgrade.
  Jessie needs to right her wrong and prove herself, so she starts her own investigation into the trafficking. But going rogue means she has no one to watch her back as she delves into the horrors she uncovers. Meanwhile, her former teammates have been ordered to bring her down. Jessie must face danger from all sides if she’s to complete her mission—and survive.

Review: I have always been frustrated with the James Bond and Mission Impossible movie franchises especially with their reductive treatment of women who are either the femme fatale caricuture or an "agent" who is suppose to be capable and fierce but really are used as plot devices for the male lead. Athena Protocol takes my frustrations and turns into a female driven thriller that focuses on the mistreatment of women worldwide and female spies who enact justice for those exploited women.
    Jessie Archer, a white British woman, works for Athena, a female-led London-based secret division of global corporation Chen Technologies, helping to covertly take down crime lords who traffic and kidnap women and children. When a high-tension mission goes awry, Jessie is taunted by the idea of temporary justice given to this warlord who will very likely repeat his cycle for violence. She makes an impulsive decision and kills him, violating not only the main creed of Athena but also endangering Athena’s secrecy. As a result Jessie is subsequently kicked off the team right as they are departing for Belgrade for another operation against a major human trafficker coming up, and Jessie's determined to be involved whether they'll have her or not. As she begins her rogue investigation, she has to avoid both the people she's investigating and the Athena agents working in parallel to her. Jessie uncovers information that endanger her and the Athena team, especially as her feelings for the trafficker's daughter become complicated.
  There is a lot that I enjoyed in the Athena Protocol, but there are some aspects that are underdeveloped. The book is highly inclusive and includes diverse and queer characters. We get flashes of layered and complex backstories for these characters but wanted them to be a bit more fleshed out. There are also moments within the book in which Jessie examines her privilege with occasional flippant snark, but I would have liked to see this a bit more in the book too. I also appreciated the questions about global power dynamics and the treatment of women around the world.
  The writing is clearly indicative as a debut novel. Though there is a lot of action and the plot moves quickly, there is a lot of exposition with a lot of telling instead of showing. The actions that Jessie takes require a suspension of disbelief, which is normal for a YA thriller. I would have liked more dialogue from the secondary characters. Some readers have called the romance to be queer bait, but I'm not sure as the romance did not develop fully for me and I saw Jessie as just coming to terms with her sexuality. The mission does come to a close in the book, but the door is left open for more books to follow which leads me to believe this is a series starter. If that is the case then I look forward to reading more because it does have good potential to be a great series. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong violence, language, and disturbing images in the book. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Embassy Row series by Ally Carter
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