(Website, Twitter, Facebook)Published by Full Fathom Five Digital on May 20th 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, General, Girls & Women, Thrillers & Suspense, Young Adult
When your life is a lie, how do you know what’s real? Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation. She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash. Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency. For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing. But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now. Between her cover as a high school girl—juggling a homecoming dance, history reports, and an increasingly suspicious boyfriend—and her mission in this high-stakes spy game, the boundaries of her two lives are beginning to blur. Will she stay true to the country she barely remembers, or has her loyalty shattered along with her identity?
It’s impossible to be yourself when you’re too busy being someone else. Milena Rovka has lived the last five years in a spy facility, training to be someone else when the time comes. Plastic surgery and a few scars change who she is and her mission is set: become Alexandra Gastone, graduate high school, get into Princeton, and infiltrate the CIA. The only problem is that she can’t have any emotional connection to the people in her new life—and then she does. War lines get blurred quickly, and she doesn’t know what side she wants to be a part of. Can she disappear before one of them chooses for her?
I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like this book before. As strange as it sounds, spy movies and books have never made it on the top of my list of things that I had to watch or read. However, something about this book made me pause and want to read it. This was not just a brilliantly written story on the possibilities of the government, but a devastating story about a girl trying to find who she is when she’s only been told to be someone else.
From the beginning, Milena had a contagious spirit. Since the book was told in her point of view, the things that she didn’t share with the her new world were commonly thought about. Her desire to be the things she had envisioned for herself before her life was ripped from her played a pivotal role in the person she became. She had a sympathetic spirit and not only mourned her loss but that of the people she deceived. In the end, the parts of her that were Milena and not Alexandra are what saved her.
One of the key points in her deception revolved around the person she had a relationship with. Grant fit the part perfectly: the son of a CIA agent. Without anyone else’s knowledge, being in a relationship with him helped expedite the plan Olissa concocted seven years prior. But it was difficult not to fall in love with Grant, and Melina couldn’t help having an emotional connection to him. Through him, I understood how strenuous and exhausting living her lie became. She couldn’t make real friends because they couldn’t know the real her; she couldn’t fall in love because he only knew the persona she created.
They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is not only a piece on government propaganda, though it does make you wonder what really goes on, but a heart wrenching tale of a girl striving to break through her confinement. Not only did I empathize with Milena, but I understood the condition she was in, though I will never have to face that myself (hopefully—this book was insane). Her character may have gone through experiences that are completely foreign to the common person, but Maclagan managed to make her understandable, relatable.
This is a book that you will definitely want to add to your list and an author you’ll want to be on the look out for. It’s a remarkable debut that will leave the reader spiraling and dying for a sequel.