Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 19, 2015)
This was a Netgalley review. EBook free in exchange for an honest review.
As many of my friends know I am a big fan of diverse characters in my school reading lists. But none of that matters if the story behind the diversity is dull and flat. Even better than just diverse is when the story is so strong, that anyone can relate to the protagonist irregardless of where they came from or what religion they are. Scarlett is one of those characters, and Scarlett Undercover is one of those stories.
This is a great upper middle or young teen fiction mystery novel. Scarlett is a fun diverse main character and a nice change from the boilerplate of white snarky girl standing up for herself. Reminds me of a lot of the adult urban fiction out there, but done in a more kid friendly way. Scarlett is a young teen who operates a successful gumshoe business with an office complete with chain smoking stoop sitters, filing cabinets, and friendly cop. It is almost perfectly noir, and all of this is done amidst the backdrop of two Muslim sisters trying to maintain their family in spite of the tragic death of their Father and living in the middle of urban America.
This action packed mystery novel has it all: groups with secret agendas, stolen artifacts with mystic powers, even assassins. The beginning is a little choppy and the story takes a little time to get rolling, but once it does. Magic happens.
Parental note: violence and swearing are pretty much the only thing to worry with in this novel. But don’t read this expecting to get a better understanding of the Muslim religion or Persian or Arabic culture. Like I said, this is a fantasy-mystery novel and NOT meant to be a factual explanation or agenda book.