Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Review: 'The Anonymous Girl' by Holy Ghost Writer

The Anonymous Girl by Holy Ghost Writer (HGW) is the sequel to That Girl Started Her Own Country (review here). The first novel in this series is The Sultan of Monte Cristo, a contemporary follow-up to Alexandre Dumas' 19th-century masterpiece. Sultan followed the further adventures of Edmond Dantes, Mercedes, and Haydee; That Girl switched the scenery to the 21st century, following the adventures of a descendant of Dantes and his mistress Raymee.

At least one other volume of the series - The Sovereign of Monte Cristo, which I have read - takes place in the 19th century on an American plantation. Quite frankly, I'm not entirely sure what order the entire series is meant to be read in, but Sultan definitely comes first.

The protagonist of The Anonymous Girl is Zaydee, and she's still in the process of starting her own country. She doesn't know she's a descendant of Edmond Dantes and Raymee, but she seems to be edging closer to the truth about her heritage. She's also connected somehow to a secret society called the Sovereign Order of Monte Cristo. Like the previous book, this one hints at conspiracy theories, but very little is revealed. I keep hoping the next installation will tie things together in a neat package.

Within this fictional world, Zaydee may be the true identity of the fictional character Lisbeth Salander. Steig Larsson, in this fictional world, is a pen name of U.S. journalist named Steve Larson, and Steve is a former lover of Zaydee's. This volume introduces a new wrinkle to the story, though: Zaydee has an identical twin sister named Liz. Steve didn't realize they were two different people even though he had relationships with both of them - so, chances are, Lisbeth Salander is based on some characteristics of both sisters.

This time around, Liz is extremely concerned for Steve's safety, but Zaydee seems convinced he's safe but has been taken into some kind of custody for his own protection. This is the first time the sisters have spoken in several years.

Speaking of custody, Zaydee is still residing in a federal prison in Florida. She's getting increasingly fed up with the criminal justice system, and she uses her superior hacking skills to get some sweet revenge on a couple of FBI bozos. These scenes are typical of the wicked humor throughout these stories, some of what makes them so fun and enjoyable.

Zaydee has really grown on me as a character, partly because she's so smart and competent, and partly because in some ways she resembles her famous ancestor The Count. She plays fast and loose with the American legal system, but you can't help but root for her dream of starting her own micro-nation with mostly women in all the important positions of state.

A new character in this volume is Remey, the heir of a biotech company whose father is working on a transhumanist project involving manipulating the human genetic code and furthering evolution at a greatly sped-up rate. Zaydee throws a spanner in the company's works, much to the chagrin of Remey's father. Remey takes Zaydee's side, turning his back on his family and his connections to a second secret society, Skull and Bones. Remey's character is well-written because when he comes into Zaydee's life on one of her excursions outside prison walls, it's unclear whether he's going to be an asset or a liability to her. By the end of the novel he seems to be trustworthy, but there's a bit of mystery to his character.

This fast-paced series continues to draw me in, and I look forward to reaching the end and having some answers to the questions raised by the secret societies and the exact nature of the link between the present day and the Count of Monte Cristo's time. I tended to take the series a little too seriously at first. You have to have fun with it. It's like a fun, breezy Dan Brown thriller.

"Holy Ghost Writer" is the pen name of an undisclosed author. The person who discovers his or her true identity has the opportunity to win a $1,000 prize. To enter, one has to e-mail a guess to prize AT sultanofmontecristo DOT com.

I purchased this book with my own funds from Barnes and Noble.

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