Suzy Spitfire and the Snake Eyes of Venus (Book Review)
By Joe Canzano
I received an early copy of this novel from BookSirens in exchange for a fair review!
I purchased the first Suzy Spitfire a few years ago book solely due to the title – Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody – and quite enjoyed it. Like its predecessor, the second Suzy book is an exciting action-adventure with protagonists who have clear motivations and fun personalities.
The action scenes in the novel, of which there are many, are always entertaining. Suzy is not some superhero. She is fallible and as such, the fact that she could get hurt creates good tension. Yet, the antagonists were a little flat in this story. Hunter, while clearly a baddie, was not in the story enough for me to worry that much about him (and there was a potential twist with his character that was a missed opportunity). There were quite a few other characters and situations requiring attention that I was a little overwhelmed by all that was going on. There wasn’t a clear antagonist to me.
Yet, the story is never confusing, and events play out quite logically (except for one thing). While I did enjoy Suzy and Ricardo’s relationship, their little blip at the start felt inconsequential, as if it were only included to introduce Jack and Kiara.
Regarding the characters, Suzy deserves her name: she’s brash, not afraid to take risks, and holds her own. Her brazen personality sometimes gets her into trouble, but it’s nothing she can’t fight her way out of – and while she does have a talent for violence, she has a conscience and regrets. I hesitate to call her complex, but she definitely is not one-dimensional. Her relationship with Ricardo is respectful and equal, and his penchant for making up crappy poetry is employed enough to be funny but not annoying. I enjoyed the side-story with Burt and Tala; despite it being rather obvious in trajectory, it was fun.
The most interesting character in this novel is a newcomer – Kiara. At first, I found her a little annoying, but then it’s revealed she’s only fourteen. She has the best arc in the story as she goes from victim-blaming herself to realising her situation and seeking help and escape. Suzy, despite her violent nature, provides Kiara the protective care she was lacking, which helps them both grow. Worry over Kiara was a major point of tension in the novel.
Tied to that, the novel has some nuanced comments about the exploitative nature of sex trafficking, especially regarding young people, and how abuse functions in relationships. Often, if we are shown an abusive relationship in media, we are given an abuser who is so over-the-top it detracts from the reality of abuse in real life. But the abuser, in this case, isn’t depicted as someone with no feelings or remorse. In fact, his warped love of his girlfriend breaks misleading stereotypes about what abusive relationships are like and shows us society’s implication in their perpetuation. Their relationship is artfully done, as it’s apparent to us, as outsiders, why the victim continually denies her status as a victim of abuse (even repeatedly claiming she “owes” him for rescuing her from a previous abuser) and the sad logic behind the abuser’s excuses for his behaviour. Quite frankly, these concepts surprised me in a book that I expected to be just a fun romp.
That’s not to say it isn’t fun! This novel is a quick-paced, entertaining, action-adventure with interesting and diverse characters, some cool technology, and a bad-ass heroine.