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Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu is a fast-paced thriller that kept me entertained from page one. While I was hesitant about the premise of a pop star turned secret agent at first, this one ended up being a lot of fun, and the main characters have such an entertaining dynamic. Fans of the spy genre, superstar characters, and the enemies to lovers trope will not want to miss this first instalment in Marie Lu’s latest series.Title: Stars and Smoke
Series: Stars and Smoke #1
Author: Marie Lu
Also by this author: The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1)
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: March 28, 2023
Meet Winter Young—rookie backup dancer turned global pop phenomenon. His star power has smashed records, selling out stadiums from LA to London. Now he’s bringing his swoon worthy assets to a whole new arena...
Infamous criminal tycoon Eli Morrison has just one weakness—his daughter, Penelope. And Penelope has just one wish for her nineteenth birthday—a private concert with Winter Young. When covert ops organization The Panacea Group approaches Winter with this once-in-a-lifetime chance to infiltrate Morrison’s inner circle, Winter must use his fame, cunning, and charisma to pull it off—only he won’t be on his own.
Posing as Winter’s bodyguard is the fiery Sydney Cossette, Panacea’s youngest spy. Sydney may be the only person alive impervious to Winter's charms, but as the mission brings them closer, she's forced to admit there's more to this A-lister than slick dance moves and a handsome face. Panacea's unlikeliest partners just might become its biggest heroes—and maybe even more—if they can survive each other first.
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Review: Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu
As a global pop phenomenon, Winter Young is used to being in the spotlight. However, when he learns that he can help a covert ops organization catch an infamous criminal, Eli Morrison, Winter finds himself agreeing to go undercover. Together with an agent posing as his bodyguard–an agent who is unenthused about working with him–he must get close to Eli’s daughter, who is a fan of his, during a private concert for her extravagant birthday party. As the mission becomes more dangerous, Winter and Sydney must race against time to carry out the mission successfully, if they can find a way to get along with each other first.
❀ Entertaining Main Characters
I loved Winter and Sydney, and both of them are well-developed. While Winter is world famous, he has his own insecurities and vulnerabilities, and he is still grieving the loss of his brother, who turns out to also have worked for the agency. Sydney has her own pain and become an agent at a young age after a difficult life at home, and I liked learning more about her as the story progressed. The dynamic between them is well-written, and they balance each other out. I love the contrast between Winter, who is always in the spotlight, and Sydney, who lives her life undercover. Watching them get closer was so entertaining.
❀ Interesting Thriller
This is unlike the sci-fi/dystopian books that Marie Lu typically writes, but I found myself enjoying her take on the thriller genre. At first, I was unsure how I would feel about the idea of a pop star becoming a secret agent, but I found this a really unique take on the superstar concept that ended up being a lot of fun to read. There are many interesting parallels between Winter’s life as a star and the world of spies, such as his background in dance that helps him in training, and the mix of these two fields worked out well.
❀ Twisty and Unique
Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu is a twisty and unique take on the thriller genre. I loved the concept of a pop star and a spy, and the main characters have such an entertaining dynamic. This is a great read for fans of the enemies to lovers trope, and those who enjoyed Marie Lu’s previous novels will not be disappointed.