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Assassins #2

Assassins: Nemesis

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Being orphaned and almost kidnapped in the space of a week sent Blake Marks into hiding. For months, Blake tries to help the Calvers—a family of vigilante bodyguards—investigate the people behind the hit on Blake’s father, Isaac, but then the safehouse is compromised. Just as hired thugs storm the house to grab Blake, Daelan Calver dives into the fight, getting them both out alive.

Hiding isn’t an option anymore, but hit squads, under-the-table deals, and international espionage? Blake has no idea how to handle any of it, not even with Daelan’s family there to play teachers. The one thing Blake knows for sure is that there are only two options: keep up with the Calvers or get out of their way.

But even with the Calvers’ help and the glimmer of a possible future with Daelan giving Blake hope, chances of survival keep shrinking. The man who ordered the hit on Isaac may be dead, but his partner is viciously cold-blooded, and her plans could change the course of history. Blake wants to finish what Isaac started, but it’s looking like someone is going to die before this is over. And that someone might be Blake.

390 pages, ebook

First published January 9, 2017

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About the author

Erica Cameron

18 books201 followers
After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years studying psychology and creative writing, basically getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Now, she’s the author of several series for young adults. She’s also a reader, asexuality advocate, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse who loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.

Her debut novel, Sing Sweet Nightingale, released March 2014 and it was the first volume of The Dream War Saga. In May 2015, Erica and her co-author Lani Woodland launched the Laguna Tides series with Taken by Chance. Riptide’s YA imprint Triton Books began the Assassins series with Discord in September 2016. The Ryogan Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy through Entangled Teen, launched in 2017 with Island of Exiles. Next up, Erica will be working with Entangled Teen to create a young adult science fiction trilogy pitched as Star Trek: Voyager meets The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica; Pax Novis is set to fly in 2018.

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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Beebs.
549 reviews41 followers
February 4, 2017
While I am all for authors writing about characters of diversity and I definitely think we need more diversity in our books, my problems with this book are that Blake's sexuality is of absolutely no relevance to the story. While Blake and Daelan's specific sexualities are mentioned quite early on, everyone is really accepting of Blake and apart from Blake's pronouns changing intermittently, it had no impact whatsoever on the story.

The storyline itself was ok, not really my cup of tea but well written. I just wish that as the author had chosen to specify Blake's sexuality that I felt there was more reason to it than just to include diversity.

*Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for XR.
1,708 reviews81 followers
August 27, 2019
What a daunting experience for civilian Blake, but if I were Blake I'd be so bloody grateful to have the Carvers, the Weston girls, the AWOL Marine boys and Bernard in my corner.

Also, I've kinda learnt a lot about respecting one's pronouns and how an individual sees themselves... I've personally never encountered that in my life before, but learning even through a book is pretty darn spesh.
1,065 reviews72 followers
February 8, 2017
Although it bears the same "Assassins" title as the first book in the series, in many ways Nemesis is a slightly more traditional story of trying to save the world from supervillains. It just involves a bit more illegal activity and a little bit of murder in the process. The difference is that while book one focused on Kindra who was raised to kill (in a very screwed-up family), this one focuses on Blake, who had a much more conventional upbringing. While Blake knows how to use a gun, that's a very different state of affairs than being a literal assassin, and makes for a more relatable protagonist in many ways.

Blake is also intersex and gender-fluid, with pronouns changing from he/him to she/her throughout the book depending on how Blake's feeling at the time. Which I really liked, because it's something that you rarely see in books even as diversity continues to thrive, but which makes writing a review a little tricky. Although Blake doesn't use neutral pronouns in the book, preferring to change them regularly, I'm going to go for 'they' here just to make sure it's clear I'm talking about a character who doesn't fit into binary categories. So anyway. Blake is multiethnic, not straight, and trans -- Nemesis definitely continued with the diverse themes of the first book.

At first, not having remembered the ending of book one made it hard to tell whether this followed on directly, but as time passed I remembered more and more, and once familiar characters like Kindra and Dru appeared, I was able to match it all up in my head. The shift of focus means in some ways it doesn't feel like a straightforward sequel, especially because it changes the tone of the novel quite a lot. Blake is in many ways far more innocent than Kindra and the other characters who were the focus of the first book; they feel unwell when they shoot somebody for the first time, and have a lot of reservations about violence. Moreover, they don't have the training that allows the others to work these missions, which means their narrative viewpoint is probably closer to the average reader's, and helps keep things easy to follow without them devolving into technobabble.

That was definitely something I found easier in this book -- the first one had a lot of very technical language, especially with regard to guns, and as I'm British and know literally nothing about guns, I found it hard to follow. Some of this was still a little complicated for my usual speed-reading, but it was nothing that got in the way of the story.

Although Blake didn't have the same skills as the others, they were still given the chance to shine, even using knowledge of Shakespeare to help the others out, which was nice to see. Moreover, they grew and learned as the book went on, and the Blake we saw in the final chapter was very different from the one in the first, without having lost their essential personality. I appreciated that. I also appreciated that Blake in the first chapter had a skirt with pockets large enough to fit a gun in them. I don't wear skirts much, but if they had pockets that size, who knows, maybe I would.

This book is plotted on a big scale: it's not a single person that's in danger, but the entire world, and the focus isn't on one city or even country but on a truly global scale. That might have made the story feel unfocused, but I found there was a surprising amount of detail and close focus on each location that allowed me to feel grounded as a reader. There's one scene that takes place during a major storm / tycoon, and the writing was incredibly visual -- I could definitely picture that as a cinematic Pirates of the Caribbean-style scene in the rain.

That said, I didn't think all of the writing was as polished as it might have been, though this could be an aspect of personal taste; a few of the jokes in dialogue also seemed a little bit clunky or self-indulgent, as if the author found them amusing and didn't want to cut them even when they didn't entirely fit the mood. Some of the big conversational moments where all characters are exchanging ideas could maybe have been easier to follow, but I know it's hard to do major ensemble scenes like that and on the whole those kinds of things were handled well, especially considering Blake's shifting pronouns.

I can't decide if I liked this book more than the first one or not. On the one hand, I'm a sucker for actual assassins, and there were fewer of those in this book (or rather, they weren't the focus, and when they were, they were mostly trying to save the world rather than coldheartedly assassinating people, which kind of defeats the point, right?). I also like f/f stories and enemies-to-friends and all that, which were features of the first one. On the other hand, I am DEFINITELY a sucker for stories of found family and people gradually overcoming distrust to find unlikely friendships and start caring about people. I'm also a sucker for supportive parental figures (whether or not they're actually the person's parents), and for Shakespeare nerds getting to use their skills. All of those were features of the book, plus, did I mention it has an intersex protagonist? Because like dude. How many books do you know that feature an intersex protagonist without being books about being intersex? I can think of about two, which is ... not very many considering that I've read 320+ books THIS YEAR. So yeah. That's a thing.

I know I blather on about diversity a lot, and for those who are less personally affected by it, that may get dull. But it is something I definitely enjoy about this series, as in the course of two books there have been a huge range of relationships and identities, including multiple queer characters and racial diversity. Book one had a young f/f couple; this one features an older m/m couple as well as a budding relationship between Blake and Daelan (what with Blake being genderfluid and intersex I'm not sure how you'd define this one in terms of gender, but it's queer whatever happens). It also featured a minor character with an anxiety disorder so severe it resulted in agoraphobia, and a Muslim character who wears a hijab, and I'm sure there are other characters I'm forgetting about who add to those diversity levels. It creates an additional layer to the story, so that even elements that might have been well-worn or unoriginal have new aspects and details. (This is what I mean when I say diversity makes stories better!) Plus: a book full of death and assassination and queer characters and yet somehow the queer characters live? Like, dude. DUDE. Amazing.

So anyway. I feel like I've rambled a lot. My general impression was that there was less actual assassination, but this was still an enjoyable and exciting read with lots of drama, both in terms of plot and in terms of emotions and character development. Plus it's got one of the most diverse casts of characters I've come across in a while. All in all, I'm glad to have picked it up as an eARC, and I'm somewhat regretting not having got on with reading it sooner.
Profile Image for Martha.
417 reviews12 followers
December 18, 2016
Man did I like this more than the first installment! The story (international terrorism and mass murder, driven by one evil woman) was utterly outrageous, but its telling was far more confident and compelling, driven by appealing characters and interesting voices. It's impossible not to love the easy, entirely natural representation of nontraditional sexualities, identities, and relationships, and a book that includes such comfortable acceptance of such things deserves to be noticed and praised. There are overused phrases and, arguably, a shortage of actual, personal conflict, but I would still love a third book on this group of people and am very glad I took the chance on reading book two after being unconvinced by the first installment in the series.

Thanks to Riptide Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Christopher.
486 reviews57 followers
June 11, 2017
I didn't know what I was getting into with this story but I must say I enjoyed it quite a lot. Not at first. I tried reading it a while back and wasn't able to get into it but I think now was the right time for it.

It's a crazy action packed story. We've got espionage and assassins galore. You really get thrown into it in the first chapter and need to read past there to allow things to settle before getting back into action. Blake is going through all of it pretty suddenly and just making their way through. We are along on the journey with them.

Blake is not an Assassin. I believe the first book followed someone raised to kill. That is not Blake. Blake is after the people who put the hit on their father but not fully ready for the harsh realities. The uncomfortableness when they first shoot someone is the first indicator of that. They continue to shy away from violence when the people around them are more prone to using it in missions. it was interesting to see these spy operations through Blake's perspective.

I liked that inclusions of talk about sexuality just happened. It's part of life. You don't need a reason to make Blake genderfluid or intersex.This book has an intersex protagonist without being about being intersex and I love that so much.They just are. We don't need to put too much more focus on it than that in this story. It's just part of Blake's life. I think that was the best way to go with a plot that had so much going on already. Staying committed to the plot and to the character by showing all that is a part of them.

Blake identifies as “mixed race, multiethnic, allergic to more things than I want to name, intersex because of partial androgen sensitivity syndrome, expressively genderfluid but mentally agender, and panromantic graysexual.” Blake states what her/his pronouns are at the time and we keep going. I like that a lot. Also, Daelen and the others asked so they wouldn't misgender her/him. They cared and it was really nice.

I was excited to see a romance blooming for a genderfluid character as well. I could ship Daelan and Blake. Not sure if I do ultimately but I could. I feel like the connection is surprisingly strong and well-written. They just meet right at the beginning of this and it works. It's really only a thing I've started seeing in books I read this year for genderfluid characters. It's also a romance with a gray ace character. I loved that so much. I felt like it was presented well. It made me so happy.

I loved the characters and the way that the author handled them in this so I'm really happy I've had the opportunity to read this. I fell like it's something I could reread. Also, I have to say that the Shakespeare nerd in me got real happy about some things in this book. Shakespeare references will get me every time.
Profile Image for kory..
1,055 reviews109 followers
February 23, 2021
i read this for the rep of the main character, and not gonna lie, i lost interest after a few chapters and kind of zoned out/skimmed the rest. (probably doesn't help that i didn't read the first book).

content/trigger warnings; ableism, mentions of war, mentions of death of parents, mentions of past kidnapping, gun violence, attempted murder, murder, blood, mentions of past queerphobic violence, terrorist attacks, mass murder, bombings,

rep; blake (mc) is mixed race, multiethnic, intersex, genderfluid, agender, transgender, panromantic, and greysexual, and alternates between he/him and she/her pronouns. daelan (li) is mixed race, multiethnic, and gender indifferent. bunch of side characters who are poc and/or queer.

i adore the bit fairly early on about blake's sexuality and gender and labels and pronouns and presentation. all the labels are used on page, and there's more focus on gender than anything else, but i love how casual it is, and honestly i don't often see genderfluid or agender rep, where the characters switches pronouns and how they present themselves. i just really loved how the conversation went and how daelan was genuinely interested and immediately supportive. it's just....*chef's kiss* and daelan adding that he's "expressively male but gender indifferent" is super awesome, as someone who kind of feels indifferent about gender, because that's an experience i don't see talked about in general, let alone represented in media.
Profile Image for Payal.
Author 18 books42 followers
February 7, 2017
2.5 stars. Contrary to popular opinion, I found Nemesis a few notches below Discord, the first book in the series. The story takes off from where the last one ended, the Calvers on a mission to save the world from a dangerous, ruthless and extremely clever woman who, if she has her way, will destroy the world in her quest for power. This story is told from the perspective of Blake, the offspring of FBI agent Isaac Marks, as she hides out with the family of vigilante assassins, the Calvers.

As with the previous book, this one too packed in a lot of action. However, it's narration was somewhat undone by being from Blake's point of view. Blake tended to go off on various angst-filled tangents that took away the focus. I found it hard to get under Blake's skin, and the character felt rather bland to me. Much as I loved the fact that the protagonist was an intersex teen, when the most interesting thing about a character is their gender, I feel there's something wrong with a story. I also found the budding relationship between Daelan and Blake unconvincing. The plot was too complex, and definitely a muddle for anyone who hasn't read the first book.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a review copy.
Profile Image for John Clark.
2,256 reviews25 followers
December 31, 2020
This probably qualifies as the most unusual book I've read in 2020. It's a fine followup to the first book, but the language is a bit too rough and frequent. What sets this apart in a very positive way is the seamless way Blake moves between identities. It's something we need to see more of in both YA and adult fiction. In sum, a very satisfying conclusion to an action-packed duology.
Profile Image for Chiara.
870 reviews220 followers
September 19, 2017
A copy of this novel was provided by Riptide Publishing for review via Net Galley.

I mainly wanted to read Assassins: Nemesis because it was going to be told from Blake’s point of view, and I really liked the chapter/s that were from Blake’s perspective in Assassins: Discord. So to have a whole book about Blake was something I really looked forward to.

Blake is “mixed race, multiethnic, allergic to more things than I want to name, intersex because of partial androgen sensitivity syndrome, expressively genderfluid but mentally agender, and panromantic graysexual”. That quote is actually from Blake when Daelan (Blake’s love interest, I guess) asks how Blake identifies. And, to be honest, I loved this. I loved the fact that Daelan asked because he genuinely wanted to know, and I loved that because Blake gave this answer I knew I didn’t have to try and guess how Blake identifies (which does happen sometimes in LGBTQIA+ books without explicit labels).

I absolutely loved being inside Blake’s head, and I was always rooting for Blake because I wanted Blake to have a happily ever after – the things that happened in Blake’s life in both this book and the previous were shit and this precious character deserved happiness at the end.

Blake’s genderfluidity was written into the book in a really lovely way, and I adored how accepting the Calvers were of Blake’s changing gender expression and pronouns. The fact that they asked about Blake’s pronouns, and then used the correct ones from there on in was just great. This is how everyone (fictional and not) should be. The way Blake’s grey-asexuality was presented in this book felt pretty authentic, and it’s clear that the author didn’t dump queer identities on characters without knowing what they meant. For example, it’s clear quite early on that Blake has romantic feelings for Daelan, but only wants cuddles and closeness with him, and not much else.

I mainly liked this book because of the characters, which is how I felt about the previous book, as well. The plot just didn’t engage with me entirely, and I was more invested in the characters and their relationships than the importance of taking down the person behind all of the evil stuff. But that isn’t to say that the plot isn’t intriguing. I really take my hat off to the author for creating such an intricate and detailed world. I was constantly in awe of how all the little and big things fit together in this massive mastermind plan. The thought and time and effort that must have gone into creating a plot like this must have been something else.

Spoilers in this paragraph. When I came to the end of Assassins: Nemesis, I was happy with how everything panned out. Although, a little thought came into my head that decided it wanted a book about Blake and Daelan after the end of this one. Just the two of them being teenagers and adorable together and not fighting for their lives. I want a contemporary novel about them after Assassins: Nemesis!

All in all, Assassins: Nemesis was a pretty good conclusion to this one-of-a-kind series that is filled to the brim with diverse characters.

© 2017, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: use of ableist language, multiple murders, terrorist attacks, explosions, reference to transphobia, reference to death/murder of parents, reference to domestic abuse, torture, and physical assault in this novel
Profile Image for Nicole Field.
Author 18 books143 followers
January 12, 2017
NetGalley Review

This book is perfect if what you want is spy, thriller, espionage with assassins and vigilantes running around, trying to stop a woman who promises world domination through a series of explosions and a virus.

I had no idea what I was getting into, but I'd heard enough good things about this that I was definitely interested.

The first chapter is incredibly fast paced, throwing you into the deep end without so much as a paddle, and so many names that it's difficult to keep track of them. It isn't until the second chapter that the smoke clears (a little bit) and we start to see a little bit more clearly the characters who are going to be the mains for this part of the series.

Blake is an intersex character, who is saved from an assassination in the first part of the novel and acts as the character who doesn't understand everything that is going on immediately but definitely wants to put him/herself in danger if it helps. S/he also change pronouns for the entirety of this book, as well as explaining why it is that s/he doesn't identify with 'they' pronouns (which is also the reason why I'm not defaulting to 'they' pronouns for this review).

Although the author is neither intersex or multigender, it's clear that she has done her own research for this very complex character. Not only that, though, but she's clearly a strong ally and I particularly loved the scenes where the companion character of Daelan never made a big deal of the pronouns Blake slipped into at any part of the novel. Actually, Daelan's reactions were a big part of what I loved throughout this story.

My biggest complaint is that it was too fast paced plot wise to allow for much character interaction or depth, beyond what was given to Blake's gender identity. I felt I got a taste of Kindra and Dru in this one (although they have their own novel separately so maybe that doesn't matter as much), as well as enough of Sera, Amett and Adila to know I wanted more. However, this isn't a genre I read a lot of so maybe that's more standard than I think it is.

The only part where I really found difficulty with identifying with Blake's character was the gender change that occurred towards the end of the book, in the midst of a life-or-death situation for this character. In my experience, at least, being in the midst intense life situations doesn't allow for a lot of time for philosophical assessment over what gender I would prefer to express as at the same time.

Definitely not something I would recommend against because of. I don't think I've ever read a book with a character like Blake and I'm so happy to be able to say otherwise now.
Profile Image for Elaine Ker.
1,107 reviews15 followers
June 16, 2021
Mon avis en français : https://elainevker.com/blog/2021/06/1...

I loved the 1st book and I was really hyped up for this one. I like the concept of having another character taking the relay of the story, and I was curious to see Kindra through Blake's eyes.
And Blake ! I was both scared and hopeful to read a nonbinary intersex greysexual character. Hopeful because it's a rather rare representation and done right, it would mean so much to me. Scared because I knew this had high chances of being done wrong.
The verdict is still out on that, but it looks fine to me : the character doesn't fit in any of the negative stereotypes I have learned to detect when it comes to those representations (I am dyadic so I can't say if the representation is good or not, but at least the character is human and the story doesn't obsess over their body).
Sadly, it's on a story level that I didn't enjoy the book. I was really bored throughout the novel.
Let's be clear, the problem is not that Blake is not an assassin, on the contrary. I love to follow characters without powers in a magical setting, characters without military training in a thriller : it makes the resolution even more challenging, it's great.
But here, Blake never found how to be useful. Her first decision happens at the 3/4 of the book, and it brings absolutely nothing to the plot. You can remove Blake from the book and the story is still the same. It's even more frustrating when there are major emotional milestones in Kindra's life (she was the previous protagonist) but we don't get to experience these events from her perspective. She had so much more at stake here than Blake !

It could have worked for me if I had grown attached to Blake (I am very much a character-driven reader) but sadly, that wasn't the case. I couldn't feel his emotions, his attachment toward Daelan or the Calver family. It felt just... empty.

I'm really disappointed, but I do hope this book finds reader that love this kind of story. It's so rare to see characters that have Blake's identity, and even rarer to see that detached from clichés (I mean, isn't it extraordinary that for once, everyone in the book lies about their identity, changes their appearance EXCEPT for the genderfluid character who is not deceptive ? What a twist!)
Profile Image for N.G. Peltier.
Author 3 books228 followers
January 12, 2017
rating 3.5.

Now, i loved book 1, so much action. loved Kindra and co. I think this one wasn't as fast paced/action packed and therefore a bit slower for me? So while i liked it and loved the MC Blake, there were times where after the small bursts of yes action! stuff is happening things sort of slowed down, so it was a bit harder to get into what was happening, mainly as the team spent time preparing to take down the baddies.

BUT Blake tho, i loved Blake! Here we have character just thrust into all this, into the Calver family's world of assassins! and guns! and things going boom (looks at Daelen) and it's definitely a lot for Blake to deal with. I loved how once Blake explains hey this is who i am: intersex/genderfluid/pan romantic gray-asexual/POC to Daelen and by extension his family, they just accept Blake.

Great secondary characters as well. Heyy Heyyy Kindra and Dru. Aaron and Geo, i just kind of want a side story about that big thing that happened at the end there >.>

So while for me, in spots the pacing was a little slow at times with this one? i really love this series as a whole and as i said with book 1 this would make a great movie tho! Teens assassins? yes please.

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