Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, a self-described “million-dollar murder machine,” is a rising star in ExOps, a covert-action agency that aggressively shields the United States from its three great enemies: the Soviet Union, Greater Germany, and the Nationalist Republic of China. Rather than risk another all-out war, the four superpowers have poured their resources into creating superspies known as Levels.
Alix is one of the hottest young American Levels. That’s no surprise: Her dad was America’s top Level before he was captured and killed eight years ago. But when an impulsive decision explodes—literally—in her face, Alix uncovers a conspiracy that pushes her to her limits and could upset the global balance of power forever
Title: Blades of Winter
Author: G.T. Almasi
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Alix, code name Scarlet, is the star of the show, but has some great supporting characters, including her Information Operator (IO) and lover, Patrick, aka Trick, code name Solomon. Raj is a great foil to Scarlet's wisecracking teenage antics, as is Cyrus, their Front Desk.
The meat of the story is Alix and Trick being tasked with tracked down her father's last job before he was killed eight years earlier. But recent discoveries by the duo uncover the fact that he is still alive, radically changing Alix's world. She had grown up worshipping her Dad, who was the top Level Extreme Operative (ExOp) in the program, to the point where they had to create new levels for him. Clearly combining that kind of star power with a child's parental worship is going to have some serious impacts on the child. At the age of twelve Alix is taken into the Training Program, right after her father is captured. She skyrockets through the training system, skipping entire sections, all thanks to the stories she grew up hearing from her beloved father.
This book is a fantastic blend of psychological thriller and emotional drama, replete with spies that have flipped, terrorists looking to end the world, human cloning, and so much more. It sounds like too much for one book, but everything flows so seamlessly that it works.
Although Alix is more of a shoot first & ask questions later hothead, she learns to control that much more thoroughly by the end of the book. She definitely matures, but she also pays a terribly high price for all of the stress she puts her body through, not too mention the psychological stress. Suffering a devastating loss at the end of the book, Scarlet is completely stunned when she returns to be confronted with a ghost from her past
As a novelist, his literary influences include Robert Ludlum, Neal Stephenson, and Hunter S. Thompson. He also draws inspiration from John Woo’s movies and Todd Howard’s videogames. Almasi lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with his wife, Natalie, and their lovably stubborn dog, Ella.