In my mid-teens I suddenly discovered adult thrillers. I have a feeling the first may have been Robert Ludlam's The Bourne Identity, after which I flew through the whole back catalogue of his books, with The Matarese Circle, The Holcroft Covenant and of course The Bourne series emerging as favourites that I would go on to re-read many times in subsequent years. There were several elements that I loved about these books (and also at the time Jeffrey Archer's A Matter of Honour): the level of action (guns, bombs, etc), the complicated, twisting plots and most of all, the 'innocent' man being drawn into a conspiracy and watching how they cope and grow as events spiral out of their control. I do not read anywhere near as many adult thrillers of this ilk these days, nor have I read any of the more recent Jason Bourne books, but reading Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber was like a blast from the past, and brought back many fond memories of my teen years.
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick is like a Robert Ludlum thriller for young adults, but with added humour. Lots of humour. It also has guns, bombs, car chases, blood, a hot, totally badass girl on a mission, and of course that 'innocent'
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick introduces us to Perry, a teenage boy who is applying for university places, with huge amounts of pressure and expectation being piled on him by his high-earning, demanding father. Perry is saddled with looking after Gobi, a seemingly shy, frumpy Lithuanian girl who is spending some time in the US to study and learn the language. Gobi rarely talks to anyone, and as the day for her departure nears, the only thing Perry is looking forward to more is a gig he has managed to secure for his band at a club in Manhattan. Unfortunately for Perry, the gig is on the same night as the school prom, an event he was intending to miss until Gobi makes it very clear to Perry's parents that she would very much like to spend one of her last nights in the USA as Perry's date at the prom. It isn't long before Perry discovers there is a lot more to Gobi than he and his friends initially thought, and as the action unfolds he finds that he too has hidden depths.
If you want lengthy passages of exposition and detailed character development in your stories then this may not be the book for you. However, I would trade both of those for this kind of wham-bam action story any day of the week, as would the majority of reluctant teen readers I come across at work. Gobi is a great character, and Perry's complete and utter naivety as her true nature is revealed is hilarious, as well as slightly tragic at times. I would love to see this made into a comic, as the violence of the story fits in quite nicely with recent tongue-in-cheek but fill of blood splatter titles such as Jennifer Blood and Kick-Ass.
I can't finish this review without mentioning the cover, as it was this that first brought Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick to my attention. I was at an event organised by the lovely people at Egmont where they were launching their YA imprint, Electric Monkey. Joe Schreiber was not one of the authors they had present that evening, but his book was on display. How could I not be drawn by the great title, and the Kill Bill like cover design of black on yellow, with blood splatters? I asked if I could be added to the list of a review copy and instead one of the display copies was forced into my hand (it didn't take much persuasion). I started reading it on the train on the way home, and it turned into another one of those 'nearly missed my stop' moments as I was completely hooked by the fast pace of the story. When I got home I continued reading it, not wanting to go to sleep until I had reached the end. Fortunately it is quite a lot slimmer than many YA books around at the moment!
My thanks go to Egmont for so kindly allowing me to take a copy away from their event. I'm now impatiently awaiting the sequel, Ciao For Now, Crazy European Chick, due out in October.