Teenage life is a mess, and we all agree with it. Being stuck in a maze of friends, crushes, homework, college applications, and family drama is hard. Amidst the chaos that teenage life feels like, will you ever think about how an assassin’s life would be? Would you worry if the passenger sitting next to you on a bus might be on a secret mission to execute you? Can you imagine your life with a burner phone without an HD camera? What would life be without OOTDs and hashtags? How would it be if you constantly had to be alert to not be assassinated? Well, all these questions are answered in a YA thriller by Kimberly Van Sickle, Assassins Are Us.
If you think your life is complicated, try walking a mile in Hedy Hinterschott’s shoes. This quick-witted adolescent has a secret that would make anyone’s head spin: for five hundred years, her family has covertly “exported” people to an after-life portal. Hedy might seem like the usual rebel and impulsive teenager who snatches at every chance to outsmart her history professor, Dr. Markensen. But, through the chapters, one will come to the epiphany that Hedy is everything but an ordinary adolescent. Her true identity is revealed throughout the book with her wit, unusual assessment of people as threats, outlandish survival instincts, and intimidating personality.
Assassins Are Us, by Kimberly Van Sickle, is brimmed with twists and turns through one of the most bizarre “what ifs”. Part thriller, part romance, part family drama, and yet somehow still grounded in history, Assassins Are Us is a tale of an assassin-in-training.
The reader experiences an odd sensation when they read the first few chapters. It’s as if they’ve been teleported into a sitcom. It’s not a bad feeling, but it makes them feel like they belong in the Hinterschott family. The author does this through their chaotic family dinners, Oma’s thick German accent, Hedy’s lessons on becoming an assassin, Gary’s love for singing and Krisses, Linda’s sarcastic remarks, and Herald disguising himself to spy on his daughter. Then any doubt that these characters are normal is shattered when Linda asks Hedy if she touched anything of Dave’s in a non-sexual way, when Oma doped her own granddaughter, or when Hedy was taught how to crack safes by Opa.
Hedy is next in line to inherit the family assassin business because the male heir to the empire is not as bright as his twin sister. Juggling schoolwork and a crush on someone is hard enough in itself. But Hedala has a lot more on her plate. She’s proud of how she can balance algebra with the need to neutralize threats in the blink of an eye. But she doesn’t know what possible love interest Dave would think if he knew about her “unusual family trade”.
The characters in Assassins Are Us make this story so enjoyable to read. Van Sickle somehow crafted these people so that anyone could just fall head over heels for them. Their humor, hearts, and humanity jumped off every page, and it turned a thriller story into something about connection as much as it was about missions.
Hedy’s family is odd. They can make you laugh easily. But Hedy stands out the most. She’s an assassin with a powerful and clever personality. It’s really easy to think that she can’t solve something, but she always does. Just imagine being both a teenager and an assassin; it sounds impossible. Teenage drama doesn’t get past her either; in fact, she knows how to ease it with witty comebacks and sassy remarks. Whenever you read about her journey to find herself and learn about her family’s unusual history, you’ll be flipping through pages like there’s no tomorrow.
Hedy comes across as tough at first in the novel, but later we find her soft and vulnerable sides. This builds the character and makes her more relatable, especially for young readers. Family has always been a priority for her, but she also wants to know what it’s like to live an everyday teenage life. The reader is able to be there when Hedy thinks she’s an extraordinary teenager going through self-discovery and trying to figure out her purpose.
Kimberly Van Sickle keeps the suspense throughout the novel, telling a story of surprises you can’t predict. She shows her talent once again by delivering that punch after what we thought was already the climax. The ability to mislead the reader and then provide a breath-holding climax is a skill that Van Sickle needs to be commended for. Author Kimberly Van Sickle has concocted an addictive blend of humor, danger, and family drama that feels raw and fresh. The way she developed her characters showcases passion and thoughtfulness to ensure the relatability of the characters to the reader. She is profound in piling on puzzle pieces, even when you think that you experienced one of the most breathtaking climaxes.
There are two stories in this novel that will resonate with the readers the most: Hedy’s and Gary’s. Besides the relatable and comical sibling banter that is heart-warming, one cannot help but feel for Hedy. She’s torn between her family heritage and the chaos of high school life. Somehow, she manages to be a role model during her struggle. In contrast, Gary was set up as an underdog from the beginning, only to come out on top by the end. The whole time, he’s been trying to make a place for himself in his family tree, but it wasn’t easy because his character is written as dumb and immature.
Overall, this book delivers everything you could want in a light read: funny moments, tense scenes, a main protagonist you’ll root for, even when you don’t want to. You’ll find yourself questioning reality all while being at ease.
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Assassins Are Us by Kimberly Van Sickle. Get copy on Amazon today and join Hedy Hinterschott in a thrilling rollercoaster of humor, heart, and edge-of-your-seat action. Discover shocking family secrets and follow Hedy’s journey through high school crushes, all within the pages of this captivating YA thriller. Don’t miss out—order your copy now!