Author: Cecilia Gray
Publisher: Gray Life, LLC
Source: Gray Life, LLC on NetGalley (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check out this book on Goodreads.
Sasha has a secret – that she can make you spill your secret with nothing more than a question. Her strange gift makes her a burden to her foster family and a total freak of nature. Not that Sasha cares. Why should she when no one cares about her?
Then the CIA knocks on her door. They want to give Sasha a new identity and drop her into a foreign country to infiltrate a ring of zealous graffiti terrorists. They want to give Sasha something to care about.
To survive a world where no one is who they seem, Sasha needs to make people trust her. But when that trust blossoms into love, Sasha is forced to decide between duty and friendship, between her mind and her heart, and whether to tell the truth or keep her secrets. (Source: Goodreads)
Sasha is born with a vocal cord defect that makes people tell her their innermost thoughts. She is hired by the CIA and FBI to get confessions out of people. Eventually she is taken on a special assignment to bring down a dictatorship by having a famous graffiti artist start a revolution against the dictator. On this journey, Sasha learns to have a family, make friends, value herself for more than her vocal defect, and maybe even love. The plots a little rough, a little confusing, but Drawn is enjoyable, sweet, with some interesting twists and turns.
I thought Sasha was an interesting character. She’s an orphan and her journey to discover what family means is one of the more interesting parts of the book. I found it really interesting, and it really added some much needed depth to the character. Honestly, some parts of the character confused me. First of all, her magic power is explained somewhat poorly. There was so little explanation I would have preferred no explanation at all because it might have made the book more believably “sci-fi”, but the explanation offered just made me more confused. The other thing is that her job, at the beginning of the book, is to interrogate people so why she thinks she’s suddenly a trained spy kind of confused me. Other elements of her character were a little lacking, because she’s sort of…a blank slate, without much characterization. As the quest for family and friends got underway there’s a lot of development included so that was good.
Most other characters in the book are severely under developed, some to the point of being caricatures. Viviane especially is kind of a caricature of an activist in my opinion. Sasha’s foster mother, Chelsea, had some deeper characterization but was still lacking a lot. Even the characterization she does have is unexplained in the way it should have been, which you’ll find is something of a theme with this book.
The plot itself is somewhat rough, confusing, often poorly explained. I thought the idea of using a teenager to get through to the young artist and use him was a good idea, her special gift wasn’t really necessary for this in my opinion. However, the whole thing is overall just badly explained. I didn’t understand why they needed the artist because the explanation offered doesn’t make much sense. If you can overlook that, the rest is fun and interesting. The relationships that Sasha develops are really what carries the plot, and a lot of the other stuff could have been scaled back or rewritten to make more sense, or just not be including. This is especially true of the gift because it’s really not necessary for what she’s doing.
Art is a big part of this book. The book is actually mixed medium, part graphic novel part prose. I felt that this was really unnecessary. The graphic novel parts are used as flashbacks and tell Sasha’s back story. I think it would have been more effective to just write the flashbacks instead of illustrate them. There are a few reasons for this. The art itself didn’t convey enough information to really justify them in my opinion. The other thing is that they sort of undermine the believability that Sasha is supposed to be some super talented artist because many panels were subpar in my opinion. The art just wasn’t good enough to justify inclusion, the faces were really the only thing carrying the whole thing and it only made the less good parts of the art more obvious. More on the art, the images that Sasha comes up with as protest images don’t make sense, because while it was easy to understand that they are riffs on famous paintings, there’s no explanation as to why this would make anyone care about animal rights. This is of course following the theme of the lacking explanations in the book.
Despite all of the problems, I do think this book was a good book. I think it could have been polished a lot more, because there is a lot of wasted potential. The writing is good, the plot is interesting, but there are a lot of holes or bits that just needed more developing. I do think it’s worth a gander, but I don’t think it’s top of the list reading. Check it out if you’re interested though, because it might surprise you.