Dreams so vivid that she makes detailed drawings of him and his life. Then one day she runs into him at a fencing match, and then all hell breaks loose, as bullets fly and Ava and Alex find themselves running for their lives as both the good guys and the bad guys are trying to find them. Oddly, in the midst of danger both find themselves acting and reacting to combat as if they had been trained for years. And when things look grim, the Black Widow shows up, and the plot kicks into high gear.
I’m not spoiling the plot, but Ms. Stohl dives into the past as the two teens and the Widow try to unfurl a passel of mysteries. This book got better and better as it went along, but there was one singular problem that I just could not overcome, and that is that the Black Widow is a secondary character in a book with her name and picture on the cover. Ava is a well-drawn, but Natasha, outside of a few surprise plot twists, is as unknowable as ever.
I can appreciate that the nature of the Black Widow’s character is that she is distant and aloof, but instead of this being her star turn she is stuck in the role of an understudy. It would be different if Alex were more compelling, but he is a YA love interest with the depth of a kiddie pool. The chapters are interspersed with faux excerpts from the transcripts of an enquiry into the events of the novel, as some nameless functionary interviews Natasha. It gives the book a bit of depth and gives Natasha a chance to dish out some good one-liners, but doesn't add much else.