“Proof of Lies” is a unique YA spy novel. Anastasia has been raised by her sister Keira ever since their parents died in a fiery car crash years ago. They had always had an unusual life, moving frequently around the globe for their parents’ jobs with Dresden- a company owned by her mother’s ex and which employs families. Keira had been on track for an MD in Boston but turned to nursing when their parents died. Anastasia feels like Keira resents her for having to take care of her, and they both have been grieving for their lost family and tense relationship. All that changes when Keira goes missing one morning and the bathroom is covered in her blood. The police and authorities insist that Keira would be dead from that blood loss, but Anastasia is unwilling to give up on the only family member she has left.
Soon, clues begin to surface that lead Anastasia on a search for Keira across the globe to Italy, where she learns her parents may not have just been engineers working for Dresden- they may have been spies. Anastasia is accompanied by Marcus, another “Dresden kid” who she is undeniably attracted to, and together they follow the leads to learn what happened to Keira. Anastasia unwittingly becomes a spy herself as she is forced to follow the clues and paths laid out for her- all while questioning the ease/reliability of what she learns.
Overall, it was an interesting read- the beginning and end of the book were absolutely fantastic! They are fast-paced and intriguing. The middle of the book got a little dull as they slowly uncover clues (some pretty coincidental/lucky) and learn little tidbits about Anastasia’s family’s past. There are quite a few side characters that serve to facilitate a piece of the story. The romance was OK, but broke the tension of spy thriller/chase in the book (could help younger readers, but I found it a little distracting). I am really curious to see how this story will evolve with the upcoming sequels.
It’s a strong read and we witness the evolution of a normal citizen into a spy, which is really fun! Of note, Anastasia is an unsupervised minor (at 17 years old) exploring some dangerous situations around the globe, but her involvement is generally kept pretty surface-level as far as thrillers go, so it seems pretty non-threatening- however, I am somewhat surprised the authorities aren’t trying to lock her down with her guardians/more concerned about these trips (but I guess they probably have bigger fish to fry). It’s quite an adventure overall and a really fun read! Please note that I received an ARC from the publishers through netgalley. All opinions are my own.