Review: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Featured imageThere has big push lately to bring more diversity in Kids and Young Adult literature and if you read through the comments on Goodreads I can see why it’s so important to have characters who are like them.  The girls are so excited to have a heroine that share their religion and ethnicity. It was something that I obviously took for granted as a kid but it’s a positive movement.  It has been fun to read about different cultures and traditions that I’m not familiar with but also how little we truly are the same.  The one thing that makes Kids and Young Adult literature so universal is it’s about self-discovery and navigating the world.  Themes that no matter where you are from, religion, race, gender or sexual orientation can identify with and that’s why it’s important that everyone is represented in literature, so we can see that we are not alone and we are all not that different.

Anyway, now on to the review.  Scarlett Undercover is really enjoyable.  Scarlett is smart, clever, sarcastic (I think you should all know by now that a sarcasm is something I hold dear) and brave.  After graduating high school early, she spends her time as a Private eye.  Mostly solving small cases, like is my boyfriend cheating type of things, when she is hired by 9 year-old Gemma Archer to investigate why her brother is acting strange.  Little did Scarlett know that his case would lead her to answers about her own father’s death as well.  Scarlett is a Muslim, though she is not devout as her sister Reem is, her religion does play a part in figuring out the mystery.  I liked how Islam is presented here.  Not once was Scarlett or any of other Muslim characters were called terrorist or any other derogatory slur.  They are treated just like any other character is treated.  As she gets more involve in her investigation, she soon finds that not only is the brother involved in some strange cult that includes Jinn’s (Genies) and magic but also holds the secret of her family and her as well.

The mystery itself plays out by the book, with little pieces if information at a time.  Scarlett goes through the whole detective handbook but her best leads comes from the people she knows.  In fact, if I was Scarlett I would have been annoyed that my friends and family knew more about her case and her life then she does.  She handles it quite well.  She actually handles everything well.  She’s smart and quickly fits the puzzle together.  She’s brave as she goes to great lengths to protect those who need it, like Gemma.   She doesn’t back down, even though the smart money would be.  She has spunk. I like that. In sort of a role reversal, Decker, Scarlett’s friend plays the part of the one dimensional love interest.  We don’t know much about him except he’s known Scarlett his whole life, he’s Jewish and he’s good looking.  So often the male characters are given far more interesting back stories even if they aren’t the main character so it’s kinda fun to see that Decker is reserved the role the female love interest gets.  He’s there for Scarlett when she’s needs him to be.  Gives her a sounding board and also supplies useful information that gets her going on her investigation but other then that he has no real personality outside of Scarlett.  I’m not saying it’s a good thing to have one dimensional characters of any gender but it’s nice for once it’s the guy and not the girl.

My only real complaint is I felt the ending was a bit rushed.  The book is pretty short and went by pretty fast but I felt the end came and went to quickly that I was like, that’s it.  I feel like more time could have been used to explore about the Children of Iblis and the mythology behind them. Other then that I really enjoyed it.  So if you are looking for a fun mystery with a smart, sarcastic detective then you should check out Scarlett Undercover when it comes in in May.

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