May 27, 2021

#BookReview: Calculated (Calculated #1) by Nova McBee

Synopsis: Set in Shanghai and Seattle, Calculated is a gritty, modern day blend of The Count of Monte Cristo and Mission Impossible.

She has many names – Octavia, Double 8, Phoenix, Josephine. She’s a math prodigy, a calculating genius and everyone wants her. 

In seventeen-year-old Jo River’s complicated world of numbers, there’s no such thing as coincidence. When she is betrayed by someone she loves, kidnapped by the world’s most wanted smuggler, and forced to use her talent to shore up a criminal empire, Jo deems her gift a curse—until she meets Red. 

Fellow captive and unlikely sage, Red teaches Jo to harness her true potential, so she can do more than just escape. Before he dies, Red reveals a secret about her enemies and makes her vow to right his wrongs. But Jo has a vow of her own. With help from Chan, a bitter billionaire, and Kai, his off-limits son, Jo rises into a new role, ready to take down those who ruined her life. Until a mathematical error comes back to haunt her with a threat much more dangerous than the criminals on the loose.

To beat the odds, Jo must decide who she really is and if risking everything is worth it.

After all, history is not made—it’s calculated. 

With themes of revenge and forgiveness, loss and identity, brainpower versus brutality, and the triumph of right over might, it will resonate with readers everywhere.


Rating: 2 Stars
My Review: The way this story was told just didn't work for me at all. It felt that as each POV changed that the story felt stilted and slow. It was like reading a few stories all at once, in a way that you were never given the chance to connect with anyone.  The story itself was interesting but the way it was done just didn't work.  I didn't feel anything for these characters.


"This engaging take on TheCount of Monte Cristo, the first in a planned series, isset primarilyin Shanghai in the present day but bounces back and forth in time to showJosephine's long journey toward freedom. Along theway, debut author McBee effectively shows how she goesfrom being an unwilling pawn to an empowered queen. Jo's unique way ofunderstanding and interacting with the world informsmuch of the narrative, and readers will find it compelling yetalso easy to visualize. Recurring themes include the opposing forces of revengeand justice, trust and betrayal, hate and love--all of which underscore Jo's character arc. There's ageneral senseof closure in the main storyline, but open questions, and a small cliffhanger,promise more to come. An enjoyable thriller with anintriguing, relatable protagonist." - Kirkus Reviews 
"An intense and wonderfully complex thriller that keptme on the edge of my seat and turning pages!" - Jessica Day George, NYT bestsellingauthor of SILVER IN THE BLOOD and the TWELVEDANCING PRINCESSES series 
"I can't think of a word good enough to describe thisbook. Masterful? Gripping? Addictive? Powerful? Perfect? Calculated is all of these things, and yet the words don't feel bigenough, or strong enough, to encompass all that is contained within thesepages. It is a thrill ride from start to finish, with so many twists and turns,you wonder how it could ever be wrapped up, only to have your mind blown at theend and your heart aching for the next chapter. Don't let another minute go bywithout reading this book." -- Chelsea Bobulski, author of THE WOOD and REMEMBERME 
"Calculated issmart with plenty of page-turning action, and a brave heroine who is deeplyrelatable. The timely subject matter is heart-wrenching even as it inspires usto use our gifts to make a difference in the world. Twisty and original, thisstory will keep readers guessing and hoping to its pulse-pounding end!" - Lorie Langdon, best-selling author of DOON and OLIVIATWIST 
"Calculated isan intelligent thrill ride! Sleek and sophisticated, with dark secrets at everyturn, Calculated is impossible to put down." - Shannon Dittemore, author of WINTER,WHITE AND WICKED 
"Fast-paced and suspenseful. A thrillingdebut!" - Stephanie Morrill, author of WITHIN THESE LINES and THELOST GIRL OF ASTOR STREET  
"Calculated is a fast-paced and thrilling story thatwill keep you reading long into the night. Its twists and turns will take youfrom Shanghai's glittering high rises to underground prisons and the plightsfaced by the characters who feel achingly real. An action-packed adventure withheart." - Judy Lin, author of the forthcoming A MAGIC STEEPED IN POISON 
"In this gripping thriller, McBee balances high-stakes, page-turning action with apowerful exploration of revenge, justice, forgiveness, and love, as well as an inspiring heroine readers won't soon forget." - Kimberly Gabriel,award-winning author of EVERY STOLEN BREATH 

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—A white teenage girl with an incredible gift for math cycles through an array of identities and captors who want to exploit her talent. Josephine finds herself under the control of Madame, who uses the young prodigy's gifts to further her own wealth. Things are going well until she attracts the eye of Madame's lover, Lev. Feeling betrayed, Madame sends Jo to be dealt with by King. King is known to make problems disappear, but realizes the girl's talent for calculations would be useful for him. King strips Jo of her name, referring to her only as Double-Eight. She settles into her life as one of King's captives and begins to lose all hope. In the darkest hours, she meets a fellow prisoner named Red, who mentors her to use her gift for the greater good. Now filled with a new passion and another new identity, she begins her new life in China, working to try and save the Chan business before it goes bankrupt. She struggles to express her feeling for Chan's son Kai and trust those around her. Under the shadows of her own identity, she plots against her captors. This delightful book will hook readers from the first page and have them longing for more. VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoy fast-paced stories.—Lori James, Rolla P.L., MO --This text refers to the paperback edition.

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