The Geneva Option

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, we're pleased to present a review for The Geneva Option, a new mystery/thriller by Adam LeBor. Make sure to check out the rest of the tour stops to see other reviews!

By Adam LeBor
Published on May 28th 2013
Published by Harper Paperbacks
Source: ARC for Blog Tour
Yael Azoulay does the United Nations' dirty work. From the caves of Afghanistan and the slums of Baghdad to the world's corporate boardrooms, Yael's job is to broker the secret deals that oil the wheels of superpower diplomacy and big business.

When a suspicious death at the UN headquarters in Manhattan is covered up, Yael decides that the ends no longer justify the means and she goes rogue. Events quickly spiral out of control as Yael is forced on the run in the streets of New York and Geneva.

Hunted by the world's intelligence and law enforcement agencies, Yael must ultimately learn that salvation means not just saving other's lives but slaying her own inner demons.
The Geneva Option starts out in New York, but by the end of the book, we've been all over the world as Yael Azoulay, a brilliant rising star at the UN, tries to find out the truth behind a friend's suspicious death and a shady deal with the devil, so to speak.  Yael is a pretty awesome lead character -- she's brilliant, beautiful, and can kick your butt.  No matter the situation, she almost always keeps her cool, and she will stop at nothing to uncover the conspiracy that sent her on her journey in the first place.

The story that follows weaves together American and international politics, murder, espionage, conspiracy, historically wartorn regions of Africa, genocide, and the very real issue of mining for minerals used in today's high-tech gadgets.  If that sounds heavy, that's because it is.  The book isn't a light read at all.  Aside from the sometimes horrific subject matter, especially once the action shifts to a refugee area in Africa, there's still a lot of information to keep straight -- characters, history, rivalries, conspiracies -- so this isn't an easy reading book for when you want to relax.  You definitely have to concentrate to remember who all the major players are, especially if you're going to try to figure out how all of the pieces fit together.

I thought this book and all of its international intrigue was fascinating, but I also love politics and negotiations and world history.  Chapters will often derail from the main action to give a thorough history of a new character's background, or an explanation of what this new business does, or what caused a war in that country.  It can be a lot of plot details to wade through, only some of which wind up being important in the end.  The author has a very dense writing style, and as you read, you start to be able to pick up on what you can skim and what you need to know.  It would be more effective and less overwhelming in a novella, or in non-fiction, but as a full length novel, it got to be a bit much sometimes and could drag the pace down.

Also, those of you who know me will know that I'm not a prude at all, but there were a handful of sexual scenes that just seemed gratuitous to me -- they generally didn't further the plot, the information we learned could have been imparted in a different way, one that didn't take Yael and reduce her to a sexy object for the scene.  In fact, all of the women in the story fall into two categories:  they're either beautiful and sexy and women who are desired by just about every man, or they are older and kind of frumpy and serve mostly as plot devices.  I'd love to see more awesome, kick-butt heroines who also don't happen to look like exotic supermodels.

Due to sometimes dark subject matter (genocide, murder, sexual assault, war crimes) and sexual content, I would recommend this book to adult readers.  If you're interested, a novella by the author, also focusing on Yael, is available for free, in just about any digital format available.  I haven't read the novella yet, but it should be a pretty good taste of the author's style.

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