Friday 16 August 2013

Reviewed by Liz: Sister Assassin by Kiersten White.

Product details:
Publisher: Harper Collins.
Paperback, 241 pages.
Release date: February 19th 2013.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: 13+
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Liz from Planet Print.

She never chose her deadly gift but now she’s forced to use it. How far would you go to protect the only family you have left?

Annie is beset by fleeting strange visions and a guilty conscience. Blind and orphaned, she struggles to care for her feisty younger sister Fia, but things look up when both sisters are offered a place at Kessler School for Exceptional Girls.

Born with flawless intuition, Fia immediately knows that something’s wrong, but bites her tongue… until it’s too late. For Fia is the perfect weapon to carry out criminal plans and there are those at Kessler who will do anything to ensure her co-operation.

With Annie trapped in Kessler’s sinister clutches, instincts keep Fia from killing an innocent guy and everything unravels. Is manipulative James the key to the sisters’ freedom or an even darker prison? And how can Fia atone for the blood on her hands?

Fia and Annie are sisters. Annie is blind, but she is also a Seer, and catches glimpses of the future. Fia has spent most of her life looking out for Annie, and she is willing to do anything to save her. Even if that means doing terrible things – and Fia has done terrible things. However when she fails her next assignment and ends up saving her target instead of killing him, Annie is no longer safe. If anyone were to find out what Fia did, years of lying and cheating and killing would be for nothing. Annie hates what this life does to Fia, but is powerless to free herself and her sister from the clutches of the Keane Foundation, which uses girls with abilities like Annie’s for sinister purposes. But Annie is all Fia cares about, and she will stop at nothing to protect her.

Kiersten White’s Sister Assassin is a strange book. I loved the premise (I’m partial to books about assassins and/or similar) but not much actually happened. It was an odd reading experience. Fia was a pretty messed up character, but I liked reading about her. She was very broken and just about toeing the line between sanity and insanity – quite clearly racked with guilt over the things she was forced to do to keep her sister safe. She was also quite understandably angry and frustrated that she was basically just a puppet for Keane, and was never free to make her own choices. However, while I liked Fia’s characterisation, I felt that after the failed assignment at the start, pretty much nothing else happened until the last few chapters. Most of it was flashbacks, which were actually quite interesting and gave insight into the sisters’ backstories, but they couldn’t make up for the almost complete lack of plot. Honestly, I just read this book and I am struggling to remember anything that happened in Annie or Fia’s chapters.

Annie was an okay character, but was a little dull in my opinion, and a lot about her wasn’t explained – like how exactly her visions worked, when she started to get them, what her life was like before her parents died, etc. She was protective over Fia, and clearly worried about her sister and yet she often made bad choices (ironically, as Fia’s “ability” was apparently perfect instincts – which confused me greatly because if she had perfect instincts, would she be in this mess to start with?). Annie also hated James, the son of the head of the Keane Foundation, and constantly warned him to stay away from Fia. I think Annie had the right intentions, but the way she did things was wrong. She was terrible at preventing Fia from endangering herself and ended up doing the opposite. I could sort of admire her for what she did at the end of the book, but apart from that, she didn’t have much of a role, which was a shame as there was so much potential for her character.

James and Adam, who were the potential love interests, were not favourites of mine, but I think I preferred James just because Adam was only in it for a bit and seemed to have absolutely no personality. He was just boring. James was very shady, had ulterior motives, was using Fia against his father and would be an awful boyfriend, but I think he did, under all those lies, actually care for Fia. He was an idiot at times and I’m not saying I actually liked him, but he was a lot like Fia – broken, torn, in too deep to ever fathom going back to a normal way of life. It’s like they could only be with each other because no-one else could possibly understand them as well they did each other.

The writing, especially for Fia’s chapters, was...unusual? I get that it was meant to be all disjointed and unstructured to reflect Fia’s state of mind, and it was okay to an extent, but after a while, certain things got on my nerves. The darker tone of the book was done well, and I would probably read the sequel, but there was just something lacking. On top of that, I think too many things were left unexplained. I know this is book one, so hopefully we’ll get more answers in the future, but I was really confused about a lot of things, like how exactly the girls ended up at the school Keane was involved with, Keane’s true purposes, the relevance of the group Adam was involved with and why his research even mattered that much – to name a few. 

Overall, Sister Assassin was a good read but with several issues. Pick it up if the premise intrigued you and you want a quick read.


Sister Assassin is published as Mind Games in the US.


  1. Great review, Liz! I thought pretty much the same about this book when I read it. I remember seeing somewhere that Kiersten wrote it in a week - if it's true then you can definitely tell by the standard of writing! I loved her Paranormalcy series, but this one let me down.

  2. That's right, I read she wrote the first draft in a week! Sounds pretty rushed to me. I've read a lot of mixed reviews for this one overall.

  3. I have read some really mixed reviews for this book already, so can understand why you would have some issues with it too. I don't think that this book would be for me, but at the same time, I find the premise very appealing. Great review! :)

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  11. This book has to have garnered some of the most divisive opinions I've ever read! People either seem to love it or hate it, but most seem to universally agree that the story would have benefited from further editing and more time and attention. As impressive as it is that White was able to complete a novel in such a short amount of time, it sounds as though Sister Assassin is a reminder of the old adage 'quality over quantity'. I would rather read one novel that was painstakingly written and edited over a number of years as opposed to a series of lacklustre novels that were written in a short amount of time. On a positive note, I will say that I'm fascinated by the premise as I've always enjoyed novels about assassins as well, and I like unreliable narrators like Fia. That said, I think I'll pass on this novel for now as I'm not sure the writing style and final product sound like my cup of tea.

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  13. I've heard v.mixed reviews of this and I'm pretty covinced it's not for me!

  14. Sounds like quite a departure from the Paranormalcy books, which is a shame, since I really liked that tone.

    On a side note, I'm glad you mentioned that this book is called Mind Games in the States--I was wondering if I'd missed a new release by Kiersten White!

  15. I like the premise too, but I cannot figure out how someone could write a first draft in a week. I can spend a whole day trying to write the perfect sentence. Honestly. I guess that is why I'm not a NYT best-selling author!

  16. I'm with you. I like the premise, but I don't think it's my thing. I'm thinking of checking out her new book Chaos of the Stars, though - sounds like it might be a good one.

  17. Yeah, I thought I'd better put that in there. Title changes have caused a lot of confusion in the past! :)

  18. I saw so many meh reviews on this one that I never dared pick up my copy. i don't think I would like it very much at all. Annie sounds boring and one that I would likely not grow to care much about which will affect my overall enjoyment of the book (I'm a big character oriented reader). The other characters don't sound especially compelling either. At least you didn't totally hate it which is something :)


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