Book Review: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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My sister was a mover, a shaker, a problem solver – and right now, the problem she’d set her sights on solving was me.

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather’s ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess’s classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

My thoughts:

My thoughts on this book are split right down the middle. On one hand, I enjoyed the first half or so of the book where the characters were introduced and the mystery was built up. But the mystery itself was pretty obvious and the ‘big’ reveals weren’t that big or shocking to me. Compared to Barnes’ other series The Naturals, I have to say The Fixer can’t compare.

For me the best part of the book was the relationships between the characters, specifically the main sisters. Prior to the start of the story our protagonist Tess was abandoned by her elder sister Ivy shortly after their parents died and naturally has a lot of resentment toward her. At the start of the book Ivy swoops in, uproots Tess’ life and moves her out to Washington DC from Montana while their grandfather is put in a full time care institution in Boston. Now that Tess and Ivy live together the relationship becomes a lot more tense and forces the sisters to confront their issues which I really enjoyed.

Not really a relationship but I just loved Ivy as a character. As a ‘fixer’ she knows everything there is to know about everyone (her hair must be so big being so full of secrets (please get this reference…)) and the mere mention of her name is enough to make some people tremble in their boots. But underneath it all, Ivy is just as human as the rest of us — especially when it comes to her sister.

One of the big themes in this book was power dynamics. And I loved that. Especially when it came to Ivy’s character. She was definitely the one I felt the most for. Tess didn’t really struggle with power. She arrived in DC and pretty much rode the coattails of her sister’s name to get what she wanted, even though she took every opportunity to make things more difficult for her whenever she could. Tess was right to feel angry, I just felt like she expressed her anger in really juvenile ways as the book went on. I was disappointed in her because she was so strong and interesting at the start of the book.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes really knows how to write people and I love her books for that. But they were definitely overshadowed by the mystery, and I feel like that was where the book fell flat. I enjoyed the first half or so but I once I was able to guess the plot twists I was pretty disinterested, even when my predictions weren’t spot on. That definitely impacted the second half of the book for me since the whole point of this mystery was the shock factor of ‘whodunnit’ and all of the hints that you didn’t see. The conclusion was satisfying but just enough to leave a lingering feeling that I assume will be the plot of the sequel.

Will I pick up the sequel? Probably not. Despite my love for Ivy I don’t feel compelled to see what happens in part two. It’s definitely a possibility but right now it’s not a priority.

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