I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reading “The Missing Files of Charlotte Dodd” by Holly Kerr! I got this free copy from Voracious Readers Only in exchange for an honest review. Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“Before Charlotte Dodd had a secret life…
Before she lost her memories, Charlotte Dodd still has a secret life, but at least she could remember it. She was an agent for NIIA, happy in her new found love for Hamilton Short, and dealing with usual missions like saving the world from killer viruses (why are they always named after animals, like swine and elephant? Gives the animals a bad rap).
But then her brother bursts into her life with a secret for her. After being told her mother died years ago, Seamus tells Charlotte she is still alive and being held against her will.
No proof or anything. Just a sketchy plan to rescue her.
Of course Charlotte heads off with Seamus, going against the NIIA and Ham to find out what really happened to her mother.
Sometimes missing things are better off not being found.
A novella prequel to The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd.”
Worldbuilding development: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Plot development: 2 out of 5 stars
I thought the concept of the plot was good—protagonist works for a spy agency just like her mother and grandfather used to, only to find out from her brother (who doesn’t work for said agency) that their mother isn’t dead, but actually alive and captured in Russia without the agency ever telling them in the first place. However, the way it carried out was poorly executed. The suddenness of Charlotte’s mother being killed just as Charlotte found her, the way the plot wrapped up only one or two chapters after Charlotte got out of the situation alive and had to get her memories wiped in order to seduce a fake love interest (something that will happen next book, apparently), and
I also just felt that the story itself was far too short. There was not a lot of depth in the plot in terms of plot twist other than the ‘rescue the mother but now she’s dead because of you’ part. I also felt that the memory wiping part could have had more possible lead-up as well, because that came out of nowhere and this concept was never mentioned in the plot until the last few chapters.
Character development: 1 out of 5 stars
Romance development: 1 out of 5 stars
There was virtually no character development in any of the characters in this book. I felt very little sympathy for Charlotte, Seamus, and Ham (especially Ham) because none of them felt fully fleshed out to me, despite the expository backstory from Seamus in the first few chapters when he’s talking to Charlotte about what really happened to their mother.
I also felt that Charlotte and Ham’s romantic development was very underdeveloped, and also unhealthy. Firstly, why would not tell the love of your life that her mother is secretly, in reality, captured by the enemy because said mother ended up becoming a traitor to the country? I can understand that Ham might refrain from doing so because otherwise it would spur Charlotte to go break her mother out of jail regardless of consequences (and that’s exactly what she does in this novel), but at the same time it seems like it demonstrates that Ham cares more about his work than Charlotte’s wellbeing or her feelings at all. I also feel that the power imbalance between the two also clearly pushes this relationship into the unhealthy territory, given that Ham is the one running the agency and Charlotte is technically working for him. For instance, at the end of the novel where Ham virtually forces her into seducing an old flame for ‘the greater good,’ without any care for her emotional wellbeing over the death of her mother.
Writing style development: 1 out of 5 stars
I think the writing style was what brought down the lack in romance and character development, as well as plot development. For instance, though there was a clearly existing plot, there was a lack in depth when it came to how what happened in the plot affected the characters (except for Charlotte’s mother dying just as Charlotte finds her). I also felt it was more telling a character’s feelings about the situation, as opposed to really going in depth and showing how badly or deeply (or both) affected them.
I also noticed that there’s a random font-style change at the end of Chapter 6, which was jarring to me as a reader, before being consistent for the rest of the book. That’s mainly an editing issue, but I expected that to be smoothed out prior to publication.
Overall, I’m rating this book 1 out of 5 stars!
There is so much underdeveloped here that I would not recommend this to be read. Perhaps the other books in this series are much better (this is the first one), but I will not be continuing with this series in the future.