An obvious prequel (thanks to the supposedly cliffhanger-y ending, which I found too predictable, and having read the blurb for the next book in the sAn obvious prequel (thanks to the supposedly cliffhanger-y ending, which I found too predictable, and having read the blurb for the next book in the series, my prediction has been confirmed), dangling information about the heroine without revealing anything...Sometimes it works, most of the times I find it annoying. This one was the annoying kind with all the tidbits about secrets, blah blah blah.
The suspense could've worked if it were longer, the "unrequited attraction" between the two leads was lukewarm at best...I don't think I'll continue with this series....more
Six months after the shot that changed their lives and destinies, Javier Morey is back in Ceuta. This new mission, a continuation of his previous one,Six months after the shot that changed their lives and destinies, Javier Morey is back in Ceuta. This new mission, a continuation of his previous one, is even trickier; he's trying to gather enough proof to apprehend, and imprison one of the leaders of the jihadist cell Akrab in Ceuta—Fátima's husband, Khaled Ashour.
Battling against Fátima's animosity and mistrust, the saintly image Khaled has in the neighborhood of El príncipe, the politics, corruption in his own ranks, and the obstacles his so-called friends and colleagues throw in his way, Morey is willing to do anything, anything to save the woman he loves from the gilded cage she lives in, regain her trust, dismantle the terrorist cell, and maybe, just maybe, have the happily-ever-after he and the love of his life so long for.
This book starts six months after the first ended. Six months after Fátima Ben Barek promised Javier Morey he'd never lose her, only to have her heart shattered by the man she loves killing her little brother. (Let's not forget, her little brother wanted to blow up himself, her, Morey, and a whole bunch of people. Abdu was her little brother, and she cannot forgive the man who killed him.) Well, she'll soon learn that, yes, Morey was the one who shot Abdu, but the one who actually got him killed was the very man she married in order to forget Morey. This is Karma biting you in the ass for forgetting promises, darling.
Anyway, not everybody is happy to see Morey back; Khaled being the first, Fátima the second (yeah, right, she still loved him), her whole family (shooting their little boy sure didn't endear him to them), but most of all his own people, the CNI...The only one remotely happy to see him, is Fran "Six months and not even a text!" Peyón who will turn out to be, yet again, an invaluable ally.
Compared to the first book, this second story was much more complex, much more intricate, with a whole lot of politics and corruption (amongst the presumably good guys, money still rules the world, I guess), and very, very blurred boundaries between right, wrong, and everything in between. If this had a subtitle, Betrayal would be very appropriate. Betrayal of family, betrayal of friends, betrayal of colleagues, betrayal among the good, betrayal among the bad... The plot had so many twists and turns, so many one-way streets, so many red herring, so many lies, and half-truths, it truly was difficult to see who was the bad guy, who lied, who betrayed, and who told the truth...And what was true in the first place. And because of all the twists and turns, all the side-plots (some more relevant than the others), the pacing suffered quite a bit. Slow, rather dull moments, and stop-start pacing were abundant.
And yes, because of all the politics, intrigue, spies, double agents, corruption, death, and (prevented) terrorist attacks, not to mention the idiotic Ben Barek family who didn't see the viper in their midsts just because he was a Muslim and a better match for their beloved Fátima, the romance also suffered. First, because of the whole you-shot-my-brother thing, then you're-a-liar-my-husband-isn't-a-terrorist thing, then the whole my-family-will-never-forgive-you thing, and then the whole heroine and her idiotic reasoning that she can save her family by returning to her abusive, crazily obsessed with her, terrorist of a husband. I didn't like that trait of Fátima in the the first book, her spiel about family and familial honor coming before her own happiness, but I could persuade myself in justifying it with the whole difference in culture, upbringing, and religion. But in this book we're talking about a fucking terrorist, a guy who recruited her little brother and sent him to death (no matter who actually pulled the trigger in the end—for me, Khaled killed Abdu long before Morey killed the terrorist Abdessalam Ben Barek), and you willingly, consciously deciding to live with him to save your family, no matter what the man you love tells you (he's a spy, he could get them all out!), not matter what your older brother, the drug dealer, tells you. This TSTL attitude Fátima displayed this time around, her naivete, if it could be called that, didn't endear her to me at all.
The rest, the action, the intrigue, the mysteries piling up one on top of the other, the danger, was great (despite the pacing issues), gripping and intense, that final "battle" in Granada a fitting, nail-biting first climax. Then it all slowed down (perfectly paced this time around) only to speed back up toward the second climax at the police station in Ceuta, and barrel into the third climax, the final, intense, bullet-ridden, blood- and tear-splattered showdown on the beach with its shattering ending.
Out of the four finales (one original and three alternatives), I loved the original one with the man who never existed, turning into a ghost, a legend, a demon wreaking havoc in the name of revenge. I loved the bit when he lets it all out, screams out all feeling, only to turn into
"someone without mercy, without a soul, a devil with nothing left to lose: someone who's only driven by revenge, and lives for it".
I got goosebumps reading those last few paragraphs.
And my second favorite is the third alternative finale, the one ending
"very far from there, in a place in the cold Norway, in the far north of Europe, in a place famous for the most beautiful auroras boreales",
a throwback to the ninth chapter of the first book, that longest night and a long talk in the CNI apartment in Ceuta....more
CNI agent Javier Morey is transferred to Ceuta, the autonomous Spanish city on the north coast of Morocco, as a chief inspector in their police departCNI agent Javier Morey is transferred to Ceuta, the autonomous Spanish city on the north coast of Morocco, as a chief inspector in their police department. His task is to uncover the mole(s) in the department that work for the jihadists by supplying them with seized firearms and maybe even recruitment.
Once there, he’ll discover not everything is black and white, but there are many shades of grey (no pun intended), those who appear bad might not be, those who appear good might not be, and sometimes the good pretend to be the bad to prevent something bigger and deadlier from happening.
In his quest of finding and dismantling the terrorist cell responsible for suicide attacks and disappearance of young men from one of Europe’s most dangerous neighborhoods, la barriada del Príncipe Alfonso, better known as El Príncipe, he’ll get to know the people both in and outside of the neighborhood, forge lasting friendships, and fall in love for the first time...With terrible consequences.
I first heard of El Príncipe last month, when I decided to investigate what the commercial for the TV show on one of my country’s networks was all about. Once I started watching the series, I was hooked, both with the main storyline involving recruitment of young, disenfranchised Muslims to brainwash them into “soldiers of Allah”, which is a very contemporary, current topic, and the setting of it, in the city I never even knew existed as part of Spain on the north coast of Africa...And yes, the forbidden Romeo and Juliet type of love between a Christian man and a Muslim girl and all it brought with it thanks to the enormous gap between their religions and cultures. The plot was tight, the acting was great, the actors very easy on the eye, it was full of twists and turns, intrigue, mystery, action, drama, humor...I loved it.
Once I finished both seasons of the series (in a grueling marathon), I discovered there were two books written, based on the screenplay, and, being such an insta-fan of the series, I decided to read them.
And I’m not disappointed. Far from it, actually.
Because both are based on the original screenplay, before the series was filmed, there are (some slight, some more pronounced) differences between the book and the finished TV product. Some side plots are completely omitted, some scenes changed in setting and timeline, some dialogues changed and/or expanded...But, knowing the story, those differences kept the thing fresh, and kept me guessing just what else might be different.
The plot was tight, the pacing spot-on, slowly increasing in speed until the big finale, the action sequences were well-written, the characterization great, although (my fault!), as in the series, I found the heroine, Fátima, annoying with all her insecurities and somewhat blind obedience toward her family and their wishes without thinking of herself and her wishes and wants. But that’s the cultural and “religious” difference talking. The story was just as twisty and turn-y as on the small screen, just as exciting, its intensity slowly an inexorably rising with each page, the romance just as bittersweet, the drama just as sad. Maybe even more. Because I found the written story, reading it, instead of merely watching, more engrossing, more gripping. Maybe because the reader gets glimpses into the inner feelings, inner musings of the character narrating a certain scene, while watching it, that POV doesn’t exist...
For example, my favorite scene is the last one, the finale with the showdown by the bus in the port of Ceuta. That moment, after the fatal shot, is superbly acted by Álex González with the tears slowly appearing in his eyes, the look in those eyes perfectly conveying the feelings of his character, Javier Morey, as he realizes it’s all over. In the book this particular scene is narrated by Fran, the old cop Morey has been sent to investigate, and has turned into an ally, friend, and almost a father figure for the young agent. And because it’s narrated from the POV of an “independent” observer, this scene pack quite an emotional punch, because the author, through Fran, chooses an “outsider” to the relationship between Morey and Fátima to tell how it ended, how this “outsider” felt when all came down in flames, how this “outsider” thought it would be different, how he hoped and wanted for it to be different. It’s the author’s point of view, it’s Fran’s point of view, and it turns into the reader’s point of view, because we’ve been living their story from so very close, watching it unfold, watching them fall in love, struggle with all the obstacles, thought they’ve vanquished it all, and in the end it all turns to dust, into a mirage, as that invisible wall, the invisible border rises (back) up between two cultures, two countries, two people from different worlds that never should’ve fallen in love.
This story is fantastic (I can’t wait to dig into the second part). Kudos to señor Rubio for turning great screenplay into a wonderful story, kudos to Aitor Gabilondo and César Benítez for actually creating it in the first place....more