December 27, 2008
Death by Latte
By Linda Gerber
Aphra Connolly returns in the sequel to DEATH BY BIKINI. Readers of the first will not be disappointed by this continuation and new readers will be able to pick it up without being lost. Though the DEATH BY series is currently three books long (a girl can hope for more), DEATH BY LATTE does far more than set the scene for the end of the trilogy.
Due to the events of DEATH BY BIKINI, Aphra now knows her mom's location. She immediately hops on a plane just like any curious teenager would. While she may not think of her action's consequences, she does have reasons. Her mom did put Aphra in danger, if indirectly. But now Aphra has put her mom in danger.
What's more, Seth shows up in Seattle looking for Aphra, but only to retrieve the extremely ugly ring he gave her in the first book. He acts like they never began a relationship. (Of course, Aphra started flirting with the cute boy who lives next door to her mom while Seth was away . . . ) Unfortunately, the group being together makes them an easier target for The Mole.
Linda Gerber effortlessly combines summer fling-type romance with spy action. The characters hide their true motives, even from those on the same side. (A good practice, since they never know who is on their side.) There are explosions, chases, and simple sleight-of-hand. In the end Gerber once more leaves the reader eager for the next book. There's a complete adventure and many questions answered, but the book ends with much still to be resolved.
DEATH BY LATTE looks like a basic lightweight read. The design is nothing less than adorable and baby blue and bright pink grace the cover. But it's not a little piece of cotton candy. It's rather bittersweet and full of morally ambiguous choices. Aphra's not just growing up, she's growing up in a situation where her decisions can save lives or kill. And no, lives aren't always saved.
I adore this series. (I can say that with full confidence since I've already read the third.) It's morally complex and lacks fairy tale endings, but Gerber still keeps things appropriate for younger teens. (A little violent, but no sex or language.) Aphra and her mother are resourceful, intelligent female characters. Tough concepts are addressed without the bood becoming depressing, angsty, or too serious. (It's not cotton candy but that doesn't mean it's not fun.)
As many have said, one of the great things about YA is how it can bend genres. Pick up the DEATH BY series if you like some hardcore action with your romance, mystery, and coming of age. DEATH BY BIKINI and DEATH BY LATTE are both available now, for the low price of $6.99 each. DEATH BY DENIM will be available May 2009. You can find out more at Gerber's website, MySpace, or blog. You definitely want to check it out since she gives away a freebie every Friday.