Review: Take the Key and Lock Her Up – Ally Carter

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take-the-key-and-lock-her-upTitle: Take the Key and Lock Her Up (Embassy Row #3)

Author: Ally Carter (twitter) (website)

Publisher//Release Date: Scholastic Press// December, 27, 2016

Genre: YA; Mystery

Source: Purchased

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Synopsis:  THE PRINCESS IS DEAD.
LONG LIVE THE PRINCESS.

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed . . . or so everyone thought.
Now Grace Blakely knows the truth:

There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution — which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne.

And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.

Rating: 3.5/5

There’s this one nameless sub-genre of YA in which, a group of teens (or preteens, because that happens, too) with super advanced skills in a certain area perform impossible feats that adults cannot.

Ally Carter is queen of this genre – having read both the Heist Society series and this one, I feel like I’m qualified to make that statement. I vaguely feel like I’m too old for these books, but I always have a good time reading them, so it evens out.

This book is no exception. While I had some issues with it, it was one heck of a wild ride.

Let’s break it down:

What I Liked:

  • Great Pacing. Ally Carter’s books are always short, sweet and to the point. They move quickly. They don’t get sidetracked on random subplots. There aren’t many dull moments. There’s a very good balance between fast and slow scenes. This is no exception. Once the twists start coming, you have to keep reading.
  • Wrapped Everything Up Neatly. I am assuming that this is a series finale because nearly every plotline was completed. There wasn’t much new information introduced. Mostly it was tying loose ends together and playing around in the world of Embassy Row.
  • Grace. Grace is a singular character. She’s been through a lot of trauma – real, actual trauma that she had to seek treatment for – and she’s has real problems. She makes bad decisions and she does impulsive things (not so much in this book, but the first one? PLEASE STOP JUMPING OFF OF THINGS), but still like her because she’s human. Grace from the first book is not Grace in this book – in a good way. Her character development has been very clear and very interesting throughout the series, and its very apparent in this book. She thinks through her actions a little more, and even when she made an impulsive choice, she usually recognizes it for what it is.

What I Was “Meh” About

  • The Characters OTHER than Grace. If you weren’t Grace, you didn’t get much development in this book. The secondary characters fit into certain slots of characters that you expect to appear in a similar book. There’s the tech-savvy kid, and the lovable goofball and kinda-sorta-Mean Girl and…yeah, you get the picture. You know what they are and what they’re role in the story is and that’s kind of the end of it. They’re fully formed characters, but they’re static. They don’t really change all that much. They form relationships with Grace, and those change here and there I think the character that got the most development after Grace would be Alexei; we delve a bit into his past, but a lot of the why he acts the way he does and the like is explained away as “it’s because he’s Russian,” or something similar, as if it’s still the Cold War and Russians get shot if they smile. (kidding, kidding). It’s gotten to the point that every time that line was used, I laugh. A lot.

And yes, I did just quote Miracle.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The Romance. There’s a romantic subplot that’s been kicking around for the entire series, and it’s still kicking. The romance itself isn’t the problem – more like what the couple in question went through in this book. It got what I felt like a bit of a jump forward – though the book starts a considerable amount of time after the second one – the whole thing is muddled by unnecessary angst caused by one particular plotline, ESPECIALLY how Grace handled said plotline, and especially not with the explanation given. Not. Cool.
  • The Predictability. There’s a lot of plot lines that I was able to predict very easily. A line or two that tipped me off to someone’s actions. A SUPER OBVIOUS riddle/poem thing. Guessing a twist or two isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’re observant, but it does take away from the enjoyment of the book.
  • What Happened to “The Bad Guy”. This might seem kind of nit-picky but I STRONGLY DID NOT LIKE how the baddie was punished. While said person is where they should probably be, how they get there is not how it should go, ESPECIALLY considering our heroine’s background. I don’t think it was the moral way to go here and it made me really uncomfortable.

tl;dr: Take the Key and Lock Her Up is a perfect conclusion to a fast-paced YA thriller series. While, like the rest of the series, it is not without its faults – familiar plotlines and characters, predictable twists – I would recommend this book, and the rest of the Embassy Row series as a whole, to anyone looking for a quick, easy and thrilling read. I would also recommend this series, and all of Ally Carter’s books, to younger readers – both in age and time spent reading.

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