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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Unraveled: End of an Assassin Book 1 by Jordan Everett is the beginning of a series based on the character of Kaden Rivera. Kaden is a bored, twenty-three-year-old who works at a soup restaurant and reflects, daily, on her disastrous life thus far. With a murdered father and a hurtful and uncaring mother, Kaden’s childhood was only rescued by the close and loving relationship with her brother. When her brother went missing eight months previously, Kaden was cast adrift in a world she didn’t feel a part of and had no real connections with. When an armed robber enters the store, demanding money, all of Kaden’s years of frustration and anger boil up to the surface and she surprises even herself when she not only argues with the assailant but disarms him and defeats him. National news coverage of the event draws interest from a savvy businessman who makes Kaden an offer she finds too good to refuse: Become an assassin for me and you will join an elite group of young women dedicated to destroying villains that are too clever, too wealthy, or too well connected to be captured by the standard criminal justice system. Kaden, seduced by the money and the thought of “doing good” for society and ridding the world of evil criminals, signs on to the scheme and becomes one of the Boss’s “Minnies”. Assigned a liaison, Benny, the pair become close and for the first time in a long time, Kaden feels needed, valuable, and cared for. But the eternal question arises whenever we see vigilante justice: “Who watches the watchers?” Can Kaden reconcile the morality of her situation?
The premise for Unraveled is a good one that has been covered often before, even to the level of super-hero vigilantism. Author Jordan Everett has created a character in Kaden Rivera who is both understandable and likable despite the choices she has made. Kaden is a complex character and I particularly liked that about her. Despite coming from a dysfunctional background and the recent loss of her beloved brother, she does have a moral compass and we can see her wrestling with reconciling what she does with what she knows is right. It is a lot easier to justify murder when you believe the intended victim is thoroughly deserving of death. It is when doubt enters the equation that Kaden’s commitment to the cause wavers. I particularly enjoyed the relationship that was developing between Kaden and her liaison whizz-kid Benny. Sometimes there is a clear replacement of her brother with Benny’s big-brother style of friendship but, equally, you get the vibe that just below the surface there may be more to their relationship than just a familial feel. Kaden’s relationship with her estranged mother was also fascinating and I’m sure the author will explore both these two relationships in much more detail in his second iteration of these characters. For the opening salvo of a planned series, I found the premise compelling and the characters, if not totally convincing, at least relatable. I’m invested in finding out what happens to them in the future and that is the key to a first book, so well done on that score.