Best friends Kayla Falk, an engineering student, and Olivia Bellamy, who is studying nursing, are nearing the end of their college career when terrorists attack their university. Through a combination of cleverness, bravery, and luck, the two manage to foil the deadly plot. A mysterious man from the United States government, Mr. Hightower, sees their potential and attempts to recruit Kayla and Olivia for a program to take on ISIS. They initially refuse, but another terrorist attack that strikes close to home pushes them to change their minds and join the Azrael Initiative.
After several months of hard training, the two women are dropped into Al-Raqqah, the capital of ISIS, in Syria. Once there, they must blend in with the locals as they strike from the shadows to kill ISIS leaders, destroy their facilities, and free captives. As Americans deep within enemy territory, they know that they will be killed if discovered. As women, they also know that they would suffer before death. Walking the line between vengeance and justice strains their relationship. As they work to resolve their differences, the symphony of brutality around them ultimately pushes them closer together and forges them into the warriors that they were meant to become.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the authors in exchange for an honest review.
Upon reading the premise of this book I was definitely interested. An action packed adventure dancing with deadly foes with two dangerous female protagonists. In a world filled with Jason Bournes and Jack Reachers, The Azrael Initiative struck me as a potential breath of fresh air. The core setting, Al-Raqqah, the heart of the ISIS Caliphate only heightened the sense of tension and drama to the synopsis of this book.Sadly I felt the book really shot wide of the mark. I felt the author was almost trying too hard. The most mundane of things felt over-described – breakfast, lunch and dinner, tedious elements of the day. That is until the pivotal, life changing terrorist attack on a university completely upends the lives of our two core protagonists, which is swiftly followed by another devastating scene. This sounds fine in principle, but with so much occurring in the first 30 pages or so felt too much for my liking.
The dialogue also felt too stilted. The dialogue between parent and daughter following a potentially deadly terrorist attack was so casual it almost felt like it was just another day. There wasn’t any urgency or concern. Too often characters referred to each other by name, often in the same passage of conversation, and repetitively from sentence to sentence.
Though I wasn’t expecting best-selling, award-winning book I had hoped for more. There were occasional bright spots sprinkled throughout, sadly they were too infrequent in comparison to the heavy doses of implausibility. Elements of the book had a young adult genre vibe about them, and I wonder if that is part of my problem. An expectation of an action-packed thriller, but with YA elements, and never fully being either led to what was something of an anticlimax for me.