cover image The Conspiracy of Us

The Conspiracy of Us

Maggie Hall. Putnam, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-16650-1

Readers’ enjoyment of Hall’s debut depends upon their opinion of James Bond movies. British hero and Russian villain? Check. World domination conspiracy? Check. Stylized, improbable, and highly public violence? Check. It helps to have a preference for the porcelain-skinned, pouty, and none-too-brainy starlets of early Bond films, too, because 16-year-old Avery West fits the bill. Her ignorance about who she is and what all the fuss around her is about is compounded by extreme naiveté. She follows the directions of virtually every stranger with an accent whom she encounters, and when one of them points this out to her, she swooningly accepts his explanation that she is suffering from “the ache that is her existence.” This is enough to justify ditching prom to fly to Paris without a word to anyone. There, a powerful cabal of 12 families, “the Circle,” holds sway from private apartments in the Louvre, doing battle with nameless minions of “the Order” as they search for the mystical key to unfettered dominance. It’s formulaic kitsch, but all in good fun. Ages 12–up. Agent: Claudia Ballard, William Morris Endeavor. (Jan.)