Thursday, February 2, 2017

ARC Review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

The Cruelty
Author: Scott Bergstrom
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (February 7, 2017)

Description: When Gwendolyn Bloom’s father vanishes, she sets off on a journey she never bargained for. Traveling under a new identity in a world of assassins, spies, and criminal masterminds, she uncovers a disturbing truth. To bring her father back alive, she must become every bit as cruel as the men holding him captive.

Taken meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Bourne Identity in this action-packed debut thriller (optioned for film by Jerry Bruckheimer) from Scott Bergstrom.

My Thoughts: Gwendolyn Bloom is a senior in high school in New York City where her father is currently assigned to the US Diplomatic Corps. She has traveled with him all over the world as he has moved from post to post. It has been just the two of them since her mother was killed in an ambush in Africa when Gwen was about seven.

Gwen is fluent in five languages and, despite being too big and tall to be an elite gymnast, is a trained gymnast. Her father leaves the day after she gives him an engraved pen for his birthday on what is supposed to be a quick trip to Paris. But he disappears. It is in the aftermath of the disappearance that she learns her father is CIA and not the benign diplomat he told her he was.

As the days since his disappearance mount up, Gwen decides that the CIA isn't too interested in finding him and that it is up to her to bring him home. The CIA wants her to go with her mother's sister, a woman she barely knows, and leave the investigation to them. Instead, with the help of her elderly upstairs neighbor who once was a spy for Israel and a school friend with tech skills, she heads off to Europe to find her father.

Her first stop is Paris where she is met by Yael who is "asked to do favors from time to time." Yael teaches her krav maga, gets her a Russian passport, and tries to teach her what she will need to know and be like if she wants to find her father. From Paris, clues lead her to Berlin and Prague. Along the way she does what she has to do to get in with the criminals who have taken her father. There's prostitution, arms smuggling, and trafficking of young women.

This story was very exciting and action-packed. It was hard reading about a young woman who had to become harder and more violent in order to save her father. It was also hard to read about the gritty world of international espionage in which there seemed to be no good guys - just various kinds of villains.

This book has been optioned for film and could make a very exciting movie.

Favorite Quote:
How dare they accuse my dad? How dare they run rubber-sheathed fingers over my things? But power doesn't dare; it simply does.
I received this one for review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.


  1. Sound like a good one! I have teens that will really enjoy it. New one to me. Thanks for the great review!

  2. This sounds like a really good read, I think even my mister would enjoy it as he seems to enjoy this kind of YA. Perhaps he and I could do a read along. Great review, it certainly does sound like it might just make a good movie.


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