Book review – Thief by C.L. Stone


This is a book review for Thief, Book #1 of the Scarab Beetle set of the Academy Series by C. L. Stone. This is potentially a new adult to adult series, containing some nudity but no sexual contact past first base as I type this (I’m halfway through the second book). The first book is free to download.
This is actually kind of a difficult book to review because on the surface it’s everything I hate in a fiction book. A group of young, hip, alpha males. A girl that everyone wants to have. A totally improbable scenario. Insta-love. We all know how much I hate insta-love.
And yet it somehow works. I was drawn in. The main character, Kayli, irritates the hell out of me with her choices a lot of the time and yet I get it. I get the choices that she makes.
I think the reason that I’m prepared to suspend disbelief and romp along with the story is because of the gritty depth of it. These characters are damaged and they speak often from places of pain. They’re constantly all questioning the way that they’re drawn to each other and pulling back from the speed at which it’s happening. There’s so much distrust vs. chemistry. There’s so much confusion, peppered with enough self-awareness to look at the base motives behind the choices. Kayli is aware that her romantic confusions often stem from a base desire for security and stability. She acknowledges it. Nothing is sugar-coated with the gloss of romantic unreality that so many books seem to suffer from these days. Kayli suffers from clear self-delusion and wilful ignorance, particularly when it comes to Raven, but it’s so cleverly articulated that as the reader you can actually interpret her subconscious without her saying it. The whole premise of how she gets drawn into the scenario is well-handled too. I didn’t at any stage start with the “as if!!”s. It’s believable.
I like the other characters too. The guys are all unique in their way and unlike some other books with large casts, I haven’t once mixed them up yet. I’m aware of each role and personality as separate entities.
For what is essentially an action thriller, the story does meander around a lot. It’s a slower pace, but remains absorbing. Stone takes her time with the world building, letting you get to know the characters. There are twists and turns, secrets and lies, always an inability to trust what’s on the surface.
The book does have its faults, most notably that the copy editing is atrocious. There are a lot of spelling mistakes and missing or extra words. If you’ve been reading my reviews for any length of time, you’ll know that it’s a major bugbear of mine, so it should tell you how much I enjoyed the book that I ignored all the typos and still downloaded the second book as soon as I’d finished the first one. There are also several major continuity errors – days that only last two or three hours and days when they eat dinner three times.
I don’t know if I should maybe have read the other Academy series first, since they were obviously published first. I don’t know if a better understanding of what the Academy is or does would clear up any of the confusion I have over this series or not. In the end I decided that in a way it’s nice not to read them because it puts me in the same position as Kayli – I don’t know who or what to trust because I don’t know anything. It’s a sympathetic POV to the character. One thing I can guarantee is that they’re on my TBR list now!!
Very much enjoyed, overall. I would definitely recommend this book as a (relatively) clean dip into a world of spies.

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