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I'm a first-time author living in DC. I enjoy running in Rock Creek Park, shopping in Georgetown, and spending time with my two dogs, a poodle and a rescued Mutt. For more about me, please check out my website!
on Feb. 18, 2014 :
I would like to thank NetGalley and Indie Inked for granting me the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Though I received the e-book for free that in no way influenced this review.
When Talia Lyons was just a child, her parents were murdered before her eyes. Offered a choice between accepting their fate and exacting revenge, Talia trains to become one of the country’s deadliest assassins in order to kill the man responsible for their deaths: Ian Crane. Luckily, Talia was born with a gift- the ability to read and influence the minds of others. At sixteen, Talia is poised to graduate from the McDonough School for the Talented, where she learned to control her abilities. Now there is only one obstacle standing between her and the retribution she craves... Talia herself.
Her greatest asset may also be her undoing; while a formidable weapon in the field, Talia’s talents prevent her from both shutting off the mental connection she shares with her questionable boyfriend and blocking out the thoughts of a beguiling fellow recruit. But Talia can’t afford to have the feelings and distractions of a normal teenage girl, when her life is far from normal.
She must regain the single-minded determination that has brought her this far, or it may cost Talia her life when she finally faces Crane. And even after being molded in to a weapon of war, she’ll still have to find the strength it takes to pull the trigger.
If James Bond and Sookie Stackhouse had a love child with a yearning for vengeance, her story would be TALENTED: an adventure about powerful teenagers who aren’t afraid to embrace their fears and fight for what they believe in.
Talia is a captivating character, that superhero with the fatal flaw. Although in Talia's case she certainly doesn't see herself as anything resembling a superhero - but she sure sees the flaws. Having been molded by the top dog in the Agency since she was discovered to be the only survivor of her murdered family, Talia filled the gaping hole caused by losing her loving parents with the friendship of her rescuer's son. Donovan became Talia's world, filling the role of family, friend, and eventually boyfriend.
Donovan is also Talented, which means he has a special skill set that the average populace does not. Just as Talia does. There are all different types and strengths - people who can morph into an animal, or many, (some can even morph into other people), and the Brains - those who calculate raw data faster than a computer, or the Techs, who have a distinct affinity for technology. And of course there are those with powers like telekinesis, mind-reading, and even compulsion. There used to be more variety and greater strengths, but as time passed since the events that so altered the world, some of the more rare powers just disappeared from the gene pool.
Talia has spent her life training to become a Hunter, part of an elite squad that goes out to do recon and collect data, even going so far as to kill those on the other side. Hypothetically she knew she would be sent on Kill Missions, but reality is something else altogether.
For graduation Talia, like all Pledges, must complete a solo Mission. In her case they are sending her up against the head of the opposition to do some recon to try to identify some of their other top agents. She must get into Ian Crane's residence in Las Vegas. The reclusive leader of the Coalition never leaves his fortified compounds, just like Mac, and when either man travels they do so under heavy guard.
Things fall apart in the end of the Mission, and Crane surprises Talia, telling her things that simply can't be true. He is evil, of course he would tell her lies about her own parents. But there has always been a tiny seed of doubt buried in Talia's mind - will Crane's comments wake the slumbering doubts?
All this on the poor girl's plate, and that is without even getting into the boy problems she is having!
CAGED by Sophie Davis
If you've not yet read Talented, stop here or risk spoilers for the first book in the series.
*** As of 5/26/2013, Caged has been re-edited and proofread ***
After her brush with death at Ian Crane’s compound, Talia Lyons feels like a prisoner, confined in her childhood home. Plagued with seizures- the result of an unidentified drug injected in her neck by Crane’s men- Talia must put her dream of becoming a Hunter on hold. So when Agency Director McDonough asks Talia to go undercover at the School for the Talented, to find the spy who set the trap for her in Nevada, Talia jumps at the opportunity.
Soon she learns that her new-found freedom comes with a price- working with Donavon on a daily basis. As if that isn’t awkward enough, her former teammate, Erik, also shows up at the School. But at least Talia has the unexpected company of her best friend Penny; to not only assist her in uncovering the spy, but also to deal with the complications that the guys create.
As Talia becomes more entrenched in her assignment, she quickly learns the lengths that the Agency and Mac will go in the name of war. With Crane’s influence spreading, Talia learns that there are few Operatives without ties to the Coalition. Forced to face hard truths and dangerous conclusions, Talia realizes that it is those closest to her who are hiding the biggest secrets. As the task of finding the traitor becomes more problematic, desperation and frustration rule Talia’s world. It becomes clear that Talia can’t do this alone. But who can she trust, when everyone around her is lying?
Talia's solo mission ends in disaster. Talia begins suffering seizures after her failed solo mission, courtesy of the injection she was given when she met with Ian Crane. Before her departure and upon her return the lies are flying fast and furious, leaving Talia less and less certain who she can trust outside of Erik and Penny.
Mac pulls her back to the McDonough School after a fair amount of time in a medically induced coma to allow her body and psyche to heal. He makes her pose as an Assistant Instructor to try and ferret out a spy, as he is sure that is how Talia was almost caught and killed, given that Crane called her by name. Donovan and Penny are both there as well, and eventually Erik ends up there also.
Talia wavers between Donovan and Erik before finally choosing Erik. A large part of her problem with Donovan are all the lies he has told her. While looking for salt in Donovan's bedside drawer she finds a photo of a small blond boy wearing glasses. When she tells him how cute he was as a kid he blanches and says thanks, but clearly there is something else going on that Talia missed. Does Donovan have a son?
After much hard, frustrating work Talia makes a breakthrough and discovers the spy, much to her horror. For the spy is one of the only people she never would have suspected in a million years. . . After the revelation of who the spy is comes out Toxic keeps Talia medicated to suppress her memories, particularly those she got from the traitor. Even with the meds deep down Talia wonders if those memories are real, and that maybe TOXIC is exactly what its acronym spells.
Excellent story arc and character development again, which was very nice to see in the second book. Maybe not as much physical action, but certainly more than enough espionage and mental thrills to keep the reader engaged from cover to cover. The questions over what was done to Talia medically loom in the forefront of everything - both because she is always at risk of another seizure, and because she seems to be developing more talents (though she doesn't see it that way, nor is it mentioned), and is emotionally far less stable than she should be.
In need of a distraction from her best friend's betrayal, Talia jumps at the chance to pack up and head to Washington, D.C., to have a purpose once again. She is tasked with administering the annual Talent Aptitude Tests, analyzing the children of the nation’s capital to identify those with powers. She knows that the Mandatory testing laws are controversial, but is still shocked by the protesters lining the streets of the city, and the curfew imposed upon its residents. These add fuel to her own misgivings about the Agency and its Director, the man who raised her.
As if Talia doesn’t have enough on her plate with that, the Director assigns her a task that will expose his dirtiest secrets. She soon learns that it isn't the children who are tested she needs to be concerned about; it's the ones who aren't. And when she encounters a face from her past, Talia must confront her toughest decision yet. Following her heart will put Talia and those closest to her in mortal danger. But the consequences of doing nothing are inconceivable.
The one bright spot in Talia’s new assignment is having her boyfriend, Erik, by her side. Because not only is Erik a source of comfort, but he is also as determined as she is to uncover the secrets behind the mysterious illness still plaguing her. Day after day, Talia never knows when she might be overcome by one of her unexplained seizures; she must pierce the veils of secrecy covering their origin, before someone decides she knows too much.
Life altering choices will be made. Loyalties will be tested. When the war begins, which side will Talia choose?
Along with Erik and Candace, Talia heads in to DC for three weeks to help manage the mandatory annual testing for Talent. During this time they learn several disturbing things about Toxic, and about Mac.
Things go haywire when there is an attack on an area prison facility, led by none other than Ian Crane's Coalition. This causes Mac to change what Talia, Erik, and Candace do, as testing has been suspended. Instead he sends them out on Retrieval missions - to collect Talents that had missed the mandatory evals, or came into their powers after being cleared as normal at previous evaluations.
It is the 2nd of their retrievals where everything falls apart. None of them can stomach what they've learned about Toxic, nor what took place at that retrieval.
They go on the run, but end up separated. Talia knows what she must do if she is to get the help she needs to save the man she loves. The question is, can she do it, and will her gamble pay off?
CAPTIVATED (Talented #3.5 - Novella)
Can't get enough of Talia and Erik? Want to know about their first meeting? Interested in what happens between the books? Dying for a peek at what's coming in Created?
Captivated is a Talented Novella that includes four short stories, two from Talia's point of view, and two from Erik's point of view. The first is a detailed account of what happened the first time Talia and Erik met. The second is all about Erik's trip to visit Talia after she was injured in Talented. The third takes place between Caged & Hunted, and gives you a glimpse at Erik's romantic side. And last, but certainly not least, the fourth story starts off right where Hunted ends.
Not recommended for anyone who has not read the first three books, unless you don't mind a lot of spoilers!
Correctly stated above, this is not a book you want to read out if order, as each scene links to a scene in one of the three prior books. All the scenes relate to the relationship between Talia and Erik, watching it unfold over time from each person's point of view depending upon the scene being recalled.
When Talia runs away from the only life she’s ever known, she could have never fathomed the lengths to which the Agency will go to get her back. But if the Agency Director- the man who raised her, trained her, and made Talia who she is- can’t have her, he wants her eliminated. Now those she once considered friends are bona fide enemies, ruthless in their pursuit of her.
Talia aligns herself with Ian Crane, the man she’d always believed was responsible for her parents’ murders. With Crane’s forces at her disposal, Talia sets off on her most personal mission yet: rescuing the love of her life from the Agency. But she never imagines that going after him will plunge the nation into chaos.
Retribution for the lives of her parents is no longer enough for Talia. She wants justice for every innocent affected by the Agency’s greed. But she soon realizes she is actually at the center of two wars- one with them and one with herself.
Talia can no longer trust the one thing that has never failed her. Her Talents are growing stronger by the day and she’s already losing control. Defeating the Agency will save countless lives, but triumph over the manufactured power within her will preserve her sanity.
The Agency will stop at nothing to perpetuate their propaganda- that the Coalition is the enemy.
Crane will do anything to expose the truth- that the Agency has been creating Talents for decades.
Her world, her life, her future with the only person who remains true… the Agency stole everything. Now, Talia will sacrifice the little she has left to reclaim what’s hers.
Talia and Erik go on the run with Alex after collecting him and realizing that he is Donovan's son. Donovan, Talia's ex and her first ever boyfriend, hid his own son as best he could to ensure that Mac never got his hands on the boy.
As part of the escape they also need to get Erik's family out of the DC Underground. All goes well until Erik is captured by Toxic and tortured. Mac does this both as punishment, to extend his testing on Created Talents, and as a lure to get Talia back. But he never counted on Talia going to her sworn enemy, Ian Crane, for help in rescuing Erik.
The rescue soon devolves into an all out war as the truth is discovered and proven - Toxic has been illegally used a banned Creation drug to make Talents out of normal people. This brings in UNITED, a global organization, as there is no way the Coalition can take on all the newly Created that Mac made.
Throughout all the action things are said to Talia that help her to finally wake up and realize just how willfully ignorant she kept herself, and how selfish she's been. Basically how immature she has been from the get go. And it was nice to see that she finally began to get a grasp on who she is, and what she is, and is not, willing to do. She finally grows up emotionally in this book. Not to say that she doesn't have a long way to go yet, but at the same time she is finally making forward motion.
She and Erik plan to eventually move somewhere very remote and quiet, bringing Alex with them. Not because she is ready to be a mother yet, but because she made a promise to his mother Kandice, as well as Donovan. Also because neither she nor Erik want to see anyone else take advantage of the little boy. However things aren't over yet with Toxic and the Created that are loose in the world. Someone is going to have to step up, and there are only a few capable & powerful enough to do so, and both Talia and Erik are part of that select group with the abilities to override the Created. Will they survive this last hurdle while still struggling with their own health issues?
(reviewed within a month of purchase)