Book Two of The Maya Brown Missions
By S. M. Hall (no author website found)
Available now from Frances Lincoln Children's Books
BREAKING THE CIRCLE is the second book of The Maya Brown Missions and an improvement over CIRCLE OF FIRE. It can stand on its own, so you can go ahead and start the series here if you're sufficiently intrigued by my review.
Maya Brown is a fifteen-year-old Muslim teenager raised by an intelligence agent who rescued her from the fire that killed her family in Kosovo. She's a proactive young woman who doesn't like to sit and wait for problems to be solved. If she sees a chance to act, she's going to take it, whether the police or Drug Unit or whoever is ready - which isn't always the best plan.
BREAKING THE CIRCLE begins when Maya is robbed by a young woman named Kay and a boy named Gerard. When she runs into Kay later, she learns that Kay is an illegal immigrant working as a prostitute for the men who brought her into the country and Gerard is a drug dealer. Maya gets revved up to save Kay and get Gerard arrested. But she quickly learns that Gerard is but a small cog in a large cartel and that it's very hard to save a drug addict, because the thing they care about most in the world is their next fix.
The Maya Brown Missions have a more realistic feel than many other kid spy books I've read, such as the Alex Rider series. Maya's not working for an organization or armed with cool gadgets. She's bumbling around on her own. While her plans are often terrible, she is good at thinking on her feet and managing to keep her cool in tough situations.
BREAKING THE CIRCLE is written a little simpler than it needs to be. To me, it read like a middle grade novel, but I feel like sex slavery is more of a young adult topic. (Appropriately to a younger age group, Maya slips pretty easily out of any danger of being violated herself. Which I am thankful for, because I don't want to read about a plucky fifteen-year-old heroine being raped.) I just feel like the book's subject matter calls for slightly more complex writing.
But BREAKING THE CIRCLE is pretty fun, with lots of action, and it's nice to have a book series featuring a girl spy. This series isn't my favorite, but there's definitely an audience for it.