Book: Along Came a Spyder
Author: Apeksha Rao ( https://twitter.com/apekshar )
Publisher: Tree Shade Books
Genre: YA spy thriller
Price: INR 315/- (Paperback)
INR 175/- (Kindle Edition)
A YA spy thriller? Didn’t I leave them way behind when I entered adulthood?
It was with scepticism that I picked up Apeksha Rao’s ‘Along Came a Spyder’, after my ten-year-old couldn’t stop raving about ‘The Itsy Bitsy Spyder’ which is a prequel to the book. The young girl has been on a high dose of Nancy Drews and an Indian teenage sleuth with her ‘grey cells’ seemed no less exciting. I decided to play along and that is how Samira Joshi walked into our library.
Blurb: At 17, Samira Joshi has only one dream in life. She wants to be a spy. And why not? Spying runs in the Joshi genes. Her great-grandmother was famous for sticking her nose in everyone’s business. Her grandmother had a flourishing side-business of tracking down errant husbands and missing servants. Her parents are elite intelligence agents for RAW. Yet, they want their only daughter to become a doctor. When she sees a college friend being trapped by a pimp, Samira does some spying of her own, and discovers the existence of a secret sisterhood often spies— The Spyders. And, she wants in! The question is, do they want her?
About the Author: Apeksha Rao is a homoeopath by profession, and a writer by passion. A polyglot, fluent in six languages by the age of five, she fell in love with words very early in life. She wrote her first story at the age of seven.
At the age of thirty-four, she wound up her practice and moved to Bangaluru. As she explored the new city, she was inspired to start a food blog, in addition to her already-popular fiction blog.
Apeksha has been lauded for her taut and gripping stories that always come with a twist at the end. She is a keen observer of human nature, something that is reflected in her stories.
Review: The adventure begins from the word go. Samira Joshi has had several previews of the life of a spy, having travelled with her parents on some of their missions, of course, only as a matter of chance. Her holiday in Dubai with RAW agents Alka and Ranjit Joshi, is no different. The stage is set for the Joshis to move on a critical mission straight after the Dubai holiday. Samira, who stays back with her grandmother, accidentally stumbles upon a group of teenage girl spies called ‘The Spyders’. That begins an unexpected journey, marking her foray into the world of sleuths, even as she overcomes personal battles along the way. A series of mysteries resolved with the help of her girl gang set the pace for a gripping YA thriller.
There are a few things about the book that are particularly appealing. The ‘make-believe’ characters are straight out of a regular Indian family. A doting grandmother, who is seemingly unhappy with the job profile of her daughter-in-law and well, even her son! Although my instinct says that Ajji might come up as a surprise package in one of the stories later. Samira’s parents are typical Indian parents, who understand the unpredictability and dangers of their own profession and would thus rather have their daughter take up something steadier. Samira and The Spyders are young girls, bold, intelligent, technically sound, can be stubborn, do have their cat-fights and yet are as ingénue as can be. They are the right example of a generation that has a mind of its own but is as willing to learn from its mistakes and grow. One is bound to enjoy the witty conversations between them, as also the war of words between Samira and her mother.
Samira continues to be a part of several sub-plots (read cases) which she solves while her parents deal with the bigger mission of saving the nation. The sub-plots can get a little exasperating, considering they are more than one or two, but the well-paced writing and continuous action makes up for this minor glitch.
The epilogue makes sure you know that there are more thrillers in the pipeline. My ten-year-old is sure to get a collection of The Spyders for herself (she says it’s added much to her vocabulary) and I am definitely going to borrow them all!
My Rating is 4/5
The Amazon link to purchase the book is right here!
This book has been reviewed as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Programme which you can join here.