Posted on

I am an affiliate of and, online retailers that support independent booksellers. If you make a purchase by clicking through the links in this post, I will receive a commission. For more information, see my “About” page.

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.

When shadowy intelligence agency Panacea approaches pop superstar Winter Young to ask his help in an upcoming mission, he’s inclined to say no. After all, he’s one of the most recognizable people on the planet–hardly an ideal choice for a spy. But the stakes of this mission are astronomical. British billionaire shipping magnate and ruthless head of a criminal underworld Eli Morrison has acquired a deadly biological weapon, scheduled to ship to a terrorist nation the day after his daughter’s birthday celebration–a celebration at which Winter has been invited to perform.

Winter can hardly refuse to help stop a chemical war, especially once he learns that his late brother who supposedly died in an accident was really a Panacea agent, killed on a mission. It’s a chance for Winter to reconnect with his brother’s memory, contribute to the work he knew nothing about, and do a “thankless good deed” to offset the guilt of living such a charmed life. Unfortunately, he’s paired up with a formidable young agent-in-training and reformed shoplifter, Sydney Cossette, who is none too thrilled to be “babysitting” a pop star but desperate to prove herself. Once they’re in the field, however, the reluctant allies soon discover that once they get past their verbal sparring, they make an effective team–maybe too effective as their cover as a pop star who’s hooking up with his bodyguard comes a little bit too naturally. But romance is a distraction they can’t afford, and when the mission takes a shocking and deadly turn, they’ll have to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to stop the chemical weapon from reaching its target.

Found families shine in this high stakes thriller as two well-balanced protagonist’s from radically different backgrounds each try to add meaning to their lives by chipping away at the evil in the world. Detailed character backstories add depth to the straightforward thriller plot, emphasizing depth of character and relationships. I listened to the audio book, fluidly performed by Becca Q. Co whose character voices and narration kept me engaged throughout. I’d recommend this one to fans of character-rich and/or romance-adjacent YA thrillers.

Cover of STARS AND SMOKE by Marie Lu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s