The mysterious beloved Avengers heroine comes to novel form as Natasha Romanov confronts her past as an agent of Red Room, a secret Russian assassin agency led by Ivan Somodorov or “Ivan the Strange”, while on a mission for S.H.I.E.L.D. Ivan’s just as dangerous as she remembers, finding a girl and her mother trapped in one of his experiments. Natasha is able to rescue the girl, Ava, and bring her back to the US, where Ava is protected by S.H.I.E.L.D. However, Natasha promises to be there for her, and as eight years go by, there’s no trace of her. Ava, fed up with her captivity, escaped from her protective prison two years ago and has been living homeless ever since. Something odd has been happening to her for the last few years as she has been dreaming of a boy named Alex, or Alexie as she calls him. When Ava and her best friend Oksana decide to compete in a fencing tournament, dreams and reality collide as Alex is there too, and then Natasha shows up, shortly followed by assassins. Ivan is not dead like they thought, and together they must stop his plans, even if they are somehow part of it. Can Natasha finally embrace and accept her past, and love, before she loses a last connection she never knew she had?
Juxtaposes Natasha Romanov (whose voice is spot-on) with teen Ava, who has a past very similar to Romanov’s yet seems to have something weird happening to her. Together they attempt to thwart a mutual villain, joined by Alex, a similarly gifted teen who has his own secrets and a fate entwined with their own. All three are confused about their identities and have a quick time crunch before a long-reaching plot is set in motion. You know Natasha; she seems to work and think best on her feet!
Fans of the Avengers and particularly middle grade readers will like this book, but older readers may not find as much appeal due to the priority of pacing over credibility for plot/characters.