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The Conspiracy of Us

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Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle — beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family — but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she's falling in love with.

324 pages, Hardcover

First published January 13, 2015

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About the author

Maggie Hall

4 books957 followers
**Please note: I don't check messages on GR very often. Please contact me through my website: www.maggiehall.com or on twitter @MaggieEHall

Maggie Hall is a traveling, decorating, champagne-drinking, USC-football-watching YA author. She is currently traveling the world for an indefinite amount of time with her husband, which means right at this moment, she might be on a beach in Thailand, drinking wine in Paris, or anywhere in between.

Her debut novel, a YA international thriller, is coming from Putnam/Penguin in 2015.

She is represented by Claudia Ballard at William Morris Endeavor.

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5 stars
3,465 (30%)
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3 stars
2,844 (24%)
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263 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,745 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
Shelved as 'lost-interest'
February 5, 2015
I checked out the Penguin sampler of this and it seems it would suit people who like a heavy dose of boys, love and fashion in their thrillers. Nothing wrong with that, just knew it wasn't for me when I read this on page 3:

I wasn't just fascinated with his forearms, though, or his deep gray eyes, or the dimple in his right cheek. He was ridiculously attractive - not pretty, but good-looking in a chiseled way, his jawline an angle rather than a curve, not a strand of espresso-colored hair out of place - and to a lot of people that would be enough.

This description of Jack goes on for a few pages. And he has a British accent... of course.
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
395 reviews696 followers
May 23, 2017
Warning: I am not in a charitable mood.

I didn't care if he was a Greek god. I didn't trust him for a second. And that would have been true even if he hadn't a few hours ago.

This from a girl who literally three, yes THREE PAGES ago agreed to go with him to god knows where and when he told her they were going abroad, just gingerly got on the plane with him. And this was after the stunt.

What the hell is this shit!?!?

I don't have a 'too stupid to live' shelf ' because I am of the mind that every character should have a right to live, no matter how stupid they are. *chuckles* But even for me, this main girl (whatshernameagain?) was really pushing it.

Is this a 'trend' in YA time-travelling books?
Oh god I truly hope not.

Dnf @ 14%

Profile Image for Lainey.
261 reviews1,577 followers
February 26, 2016
Video Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa3m8...

Actual Rating: 4.5/5

Ahhhh, ok this was great. You want to know why? Because I had zero expectations going into this, and had NO IDEA how much I was going to love it. I believe this book is extremely underrated with not many people (at least on Booktube) talking about it. Yeah, changing that.

So what I loved most about this book was that it APPEALED to so many different sides of myself. It's so action-packed the action movie lover in me was rooting for the heroine when there was a car chase on the streets of Istanbul. The romantic in me loved this book because come on, chemistry and tension and love interests who start out hating each other is my thing. The history buff in me fucking devoured the richness of this mystery that pulled from Ancient Civilizations like Alexander the Great and Achilles (my main men, let's get real.) Because of that, this book hooked me. Just hooked me.

If you're looking for some comparisons, I got you covered. Now. Are you ready for this? If you're looking for the wealth, the power, the control and the glamour of Gossip Girl mixed with the "found a clue, which leads to another clue which leads to another clue..." of the National Treasure movies, and sprinkled off with the historical legends of The Mummy movies, stop reading this review, go to Amazon/B&N/etc and buy this book. You can thank me later.

The Conspiracy of Us tells the story of a teenager girl named Avery who because of her mother's job, constantly moves around the United States preventing her from developing any true friendships and relationships. She has never met her father, so she has always held on to the hope that maybe someday she would meet him. She becomes suspect when the new boy at school has a picture of her in his back pack and it cartwheels into her prom where she gets swept up by said boy (and another) into a world where she's told her dead father's relatives are part of 12 families that quite literally, rule the world. Illuminati, New World Order, secret society, call it what you want - that's them.

First, I have to talk about the pacing. Basically, it was perfect. I had just come out of book where I did not like the pacing one bit so TCOU was a delight. What was awesome about this pacing was that I was never bored while reading. I think with any book that is really hard not to have somewhat boring scenes, but with this, I was hooked and couldn't stop reading. The best part about it was that when I put it down to go to work, I was excited to pick it back up again. I just think this whole story was paced wonderfully which led to an amazing reading experience.

So I love history, specially, I love Ancient History. Maggie Hall does an amazing job of picking apart Alexander the Great's history and incorporating it into her own believable story a la The Da Vinci Code. Like, you guys, I can't even convey the correct amount of enthusiasm I have for how history LITERALLY comes alive with this book. It's unlike any YA story I've read and makes me want to find more like it.

Next the characters. Gonna get this out there now - I am Stellan trash. I mean come on. You can't throw a half Russian/half Swedish guy with the most interesting of all back stories with a goddamn tattoo at me and not have me rooting for him. I'm ok with Stellan's "Boy B" status in the first book, but I have faith my ship will full on sail across the sea in book 2. (Also, I totally pictured him as a young Alexander Skarsgard.) Stellan works for one of the other families but he has such a presence in the books that makes you want to know everything about his character from the beginning. Maggie does a great job of giving us just enough to satisfy but dang, so excited for the next book and his character exploration.

Jack. Ok, listen. I like Jack as much as the next person. He's British and I pictured him as Jasper from The Royals (tv show) and I also think his past is really interesting as well and look forward to more of him. I really admired his intelligence in this book as well. In any other world where Stellan wasn't in, I'd be tripping over a Brit who speaks French, rides a motorcycle, and has an expansive knowledge in all things Alexander the Great. But listen, your accent isn't Russian and I have my priorities.

Avery, our main homegirl. As this book is told in first pov, I found her to be pleasant. I think it's hard for a first pov female heroine in YA to not come across as annoying and Avery didn't for me, and that is huge. However, her character was very very overshadowed by both Jack and Stellan. Avery was a little basic, but I just wanted to climb into her soul and pull out what I know is an amazing character. I just didn't exactly see it in this one. Towards the end, she was taking some initiative, so I liked that so I am hoping to see that more in the next book. I just wanted more from her. Also the "purple-eyed girl" was a little generic and played into the special snowflake trope, but again, there was so much else going on that I loved that I was able to look at that and go "ok, I'll let this slide just this one."

Another reason why I took off half a star is because while I liked that Maggie Hall skips the bullshit in the beginning and just starts with the action straight off and doesn't bother with a lot of set-up I think the beginning suffered a little and took me a little bit to get past that shakiness, but really, it didn't last long.

Hope for the next book:
1. Precious baby Stellan gets some action specifically with Avery
2. Treasure hunting
3. Avery as a main character outshining the two boys that currently overshadow her development as a character because I know it's in there.
Profile Image for sreeja.
65 reviews307 followers
December 10, 2016
This book played out like a really cool adventure movie (the kind I would pay to watch) right from the start. If you are looking for a fast-paced thrilling read that takes you in a journey around the world and is filled with theories and secret societies: look no more. Okay, there were quite a lot of issues that I had with this book but it’s kind of addictive I so can’t wait for the next one.
Set in:
Paris; France
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Istanbul; Turkey
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What was one of the most fun things about this book was that it took place in different locations and you feel as if you have been reeled into the adventure.
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naïve, indecisive, reckless

Avery’s character was not my favourite and probably the main problem of the book. She had her redeeming qualities but most of the times she was immature, stuck-up and obnoxious. I’m sorry but it is incredibly stupid and dense of her to agree to run away with strangers (in the first few chapters) to a different country to see her family who didn’t even care about her for 16 years.
I mean come on, her mother pretty much told her to stay in her house and not go outside because she was worried for her; rightfully so. But this girl right here, chooses to go to another country to go against her mother. SPARE ME.
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The fact that she is thinking about how muscular and beautiful Jack is whenever she is 5 seconds from getting stabbed or shot adds to my age-long question of how she managed to get out of everything alive. Okay that may be a teensy bit of an exaggeration but you get my point.
The point being: she can’t stop talking about how hot Jack is. That and whining about the situation that SHE got herself into. Bet you want to stay locked up in your house now, huh Avery.

Also to those reading let me treat you to these mind-numbingly stupid phrases that have been used by her so far:

“I wasn't just fascinated with his forearms, though, or his deep gray eyes, or the dimple in his right cheek. He was ridiculously attractive - not pretty, but good-looking in a chiseled way, his jawline an angle rather than a curve, not a strand of espresso-colored hair out of place - and to a lot of people that would be enough.”

“Holy mother-freakin’ hell oh wow oh no”

I’m questioning her IQ right now because what on earth was that? *proceeds to laugh for another hour*

Jack IDC-what-his-last-name-is
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All that I have managed to gather from this book about him is that he has a perfect British accent, is ‘ERHMAGAWD hot’ and is sweet. Nope, bye Jack I’ve seen you in too many books. Maybe the next book will be better for you and me?

Stellan I-also-don’t-know-his-last-name-either
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Well he’s a Russian and I definitely prefer him to Jack because of his past and his relationship with his little sister. His personality is intriguing but I wasn’t a huge fan of him because of the love-triangle that was being forced onto the readers.

This was the one area that managed to save the story TBH. The plot was so intriguing and all the mystery and secret society and clues part totally hooked me to stay till the end. There is a lot more things that need explanation and I’m super excited to read the next one to see how the author builds onto the world.

Overall, i think this book is really enjoyable it's just that the characters need to develop way more!
Profile Image for Sue.
781 reviews1,590 followers
February 12, 2017

Listen to my The Conspiracy of Us fanmix on 8tracks.
Review also posted at Young Adult Hollywood.


Ancient puzzle? Traveling across Europe, code-breaking, masked balls and Prada.

I knew I would consume this book even before I got the chance to read it. I am drawn to books, television show or any fiction that exude lavish and sophistication. I am cheap like that and The Conspiracy of Us is anything, but delightful and posh. What a perfect way to ruin me.

I am always on a quest for elegantly crafted stories and upon opening The Conspiracy of Us I was quickly swept off my feet. There is something enchanting and otherworldly about Maggie Hall’s writing. It is simply beautiful, that I found myself bookmarking every passage.

I love a good prose, even more so, if it’s done well.

Maggie Hall introduces new history to YA. I have not seen any books in this genre that is meshed with Alexander the Great and Diadochi. It is refreshing. The author creatively weaves the plot with numerous untold facts and added realism into it.

I usually shy away to stories that do not have a vast timeline because of the reason that I tend not to like them that much, but this book came into my life and proved all of my reservation wrong.

“Toshka.” He leaned forward, too. “It’s a Russian word, it has no translation into any other language, but the closest I’ve heard is the ache. A longing. The sense that something is missing, and even if you’re not sure what it is, you ache for it. Down to your bones.”

I have a kink for Latin and Russian text and passage, that’s all you need to know.

I absolutely love the main characters.

Do I need I to say more?

It’s a three-way romance.

I know most readers terribly hate love triangles, and I often find myself at the middle, partial to everything. I am that kind of person who basically ship everyone. It’s not a love triangle yet, or probably never, but it’s brewing in the air.

This book is kinda hot, and cute. It would make you blush and there would be guys and ships that will make you feel things.

There’s a popular saying that if you wear good shoes, they’ll take you to wonderful places. I believe beautiful books could also offer you the same experience. The Conspiracy of Us is a wanderlust piece. It made me feel like I was flying and out exploring the world. You need to read this. It would certainly appeal to every YA reader out there, looking for a fast paced read.
Profile Image for Riley.
429 reviews21.7k followers
May 23, 2016
This was so much fun! It had all the elements of adventure movies that I love wrapped into a book. It was a thrilling, fast-paced story about a secret society and an ancient prophecy that ties back to Alexander the Great.

I definitely recommend this for people who like movies such as National Treasure and The Mummy.
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,551 reviews903 followers
February 11, 2018
This DaVinci Code inspired YA will appeal to those who enjoy action-packed, plot driven books. The premise (secret society who runs the world, girl with violet eyes who is the key to EVERYTHING...) is admittedly far-fetched, but as I've blogged about before, most teen thrillers are far-fetched by definition and you have to just shut off your brain and go with it.

For those who are love triangle averse, just read that synopsis: the romance in this book definitely has a triangular configuration (it's also pretty insta-love-y) but it seems that this book will have at least one sequel, so it's unclear if this situation will work out to be an OTP with a decoy guy or an all-holds-barred,please-just-shoot-me-now love triangle.

I enjoyed the time I spent reading this, but must confess I felt minimal emotional connection to the story -- I kept wishing for a little more depth and character development -- this made me appreciate how authors like Ally Carter and Robin Benway are able to blend that in with the action.
Profile Image for etherealfire.
1,212 reviews209 followers
May 8, 2020
DNF - honestly, I almost never do this. And I don't think it is the fault of this book at all. But I just can tell already that I am not the target audience and I'm in no frame of mind for this one and life is too short. So I'm gonna send it on it back to the library for the next person in the queue to read and enjoy it.
Profile Image for Sophie.
1,235 reviews445 followers
May 29, 2017
I've been after this book for awhile now, and really wish I'd picked it up months earlier. Honestly, I think this may be one of my favourite books ever.

In The Conspiracy of Us, Avery West is flung into a world she never imagined could exist. She finds out that her paternal family, that she knew absolutely nothing about, was part of a sort of secret society that spanned back to the days of Alexander the Great. Now she's part of a quest to uncover the lost tomb of Alexander, and discovers stuff about herself she could never imagine.

Now, you may know that I'm currently studying ancient history, and honestly, Alexander the Great is just perf. Last semester I did a module called 'In Alexander's Footsteps', and will be doing one titled 'The Life and Afterlife of Alexander the Great' next semester. So basically, give me something on Alexander, and I'm bound to love it. I never even knew that he would be such an integral part of this plot, but it made it all the more better!

The main character, Avery, was someone who I truly liked. Quite often these days, I find I'm annoyed with the protagonist at times, and I can't remember ever feeling this with Avery. The events in the book happen over a space of 3-4 day, so of course she isn't perfect every single minute. However, I felt like she coped with everything that was chucked at her really well, and I wish I would react like her if I was ever faced with something similar.

The love interests in this book - yes, there are two, but it never felt like a proper love triangle - were very swoony. I was warned by Liran that I would have a difficult time choosing my fave, but I didn't. Jack is the only one I'll accept for Avery, and I really want Stellan to be more of a brOTP, than an OTP. Both Jack and Stellan did have their qualities about them, but I feel like Jack and Avery were the more similar.

The book ended on what I would say was a cliffhanger, but I know it didn't bother everyone. It's made me desperate for Maps of Fate, and I'm really glad I'm going to the US days after it's release, so I won't have to worry about it being sent across the Atlantic. Like I said, I wish I had read this as soon as it was released, and if you haven't read it yet, I'd definitely recommend it. I sped through the book in less than a day, when I really should have been doing my university assignments, because it was just so fast paced. I'm sort of hoping to do the same with Map of Fates when I get it, but at the same time want to savour it so the wait until book 3 won't kill me.
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
260 reviews4,948 followers
January 24, 2018
I just... really don't like Avery. She's selfish and stupid and agh.

Stellan is pretty much the only character I like... a lot. And I ship him with her, except the fact that she doesn't deserve him.

I love the plot, but gah, stupid Avery ruins it.

That's all.
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
872 reviews3,757 followers
July 23, 2017
I don't have too much to say about this one but I really enjoyed it. It's a very intriguing globe trotting, clue solving mystery involving ancient secret societies. Definitely going to continue the series! Audiobook narration was great.
Profile Image for Andreea Pop.
321 reviews2,232 followers
April 20, 2015

After the roller coaster Never Fade has been, I wanted to read something light and I thought The Conspiracy of Us fit the bill perfectly. Especially after I've been drooling for it since I've read the synopsis and then that gorgeous cover got released.

Well, let me warn you. The first few chapters or so were the definition of shitty writing, shitty characters and shitty intrigue.

I was bored out of my mind and I kept rolling my eyes at the clichés portrayed. Avery, the main character, was a mix of naïveté, stupidity and childish impulses and, of course, she was a Chosen One and, of course, she was kept in the dark about her legacy and, again of course, she had to rebel against her mother and run in the whole wide world to finally find her beloved unknown family with some god awful dangerous strangers -- oh, but they look hot so what's the point in arguing about possible reasons to be downright afraid of them? Nahhh, we shall embark on this journey with open minds and hearts and pretend this is normal. Kill me now, please.

“Ah. Daddy issues, then,” he said with a sage nod. “Though I suppose that should have been obvious when you immediately agreed to run off with strange and somewhat threatening men you didn’t know.”

BUT BUT BUT. Fortunately, eventually and gradually, it gets better. Much better. I think the author tried to give a foundation to get the actual story and action going, but she failed in the plausibility department. But once you stomach past that pathetic milestone, you can't put the book down.

There were three big elements that helped improve the story: a good dose of character development, the fast pace and the original and captivating concept.

I'll start with the concept, because that's what really saved the story for me; that's where the true awesomeness was. It's not every day you find a book centered on the Alexander the Great's twelve Diadochi general families. And sure as hell you don't read about them being also the ones that run the entire world -- you know, that old tale about some really powerful people that pull the strings from the shadows. Yep, that's them and they call themselves the Circle -- sketchy, huh? Throw in some ancient prophecy about unimaginable power, invincibility and the means to shatter any enemies that has every Circle member in an uproar and then add an opposition group named Order that doesn't shy away from killing, kidnapping and spying in order to not let said-prophecy fulfill and Ta-daaa! You got yourself a pretty great plot. Not to mention a lot of ramifications are discovered on the way and that made things all the more exciting, yaaay.

“What is it you’re looking for?” I said.
He paused dramatically, then leaned close to my ear. “Treasure.”

Also, the fact that the Circle is rich as hell was gorgeously manipulated by the author, who used it to the novel's advantage and introduced some pretty lovely settings -- Paris and Istanbul.

The pace was exactly what I was looking for in a light and relaxing book -- fast, gripping and thrilling. I'm not ashamed to admit I devoured this book in one sitting and finished it in a matter of hours and then I wanted more, because although I saw the big twist coming from miles away (the synopsis pretty much gave it on a silver platter, so I suggest you go in blind) I still liked the exhilarating display.

The tricky part is the characters. Avery grew A LOT by smashing head-on with reality. It was funny really, to see her comprehend what a dumbass she'd been and how the shit hit the fan. Oh well, I do love some drama. She stopped bugging me after a while, but I didn't start giving a damn about her afterwards either. I was content with Avery being the heroine and pointing the story forward, but I was in no way attached to her.

“In the space of one day, I’d turned into what I thought I’d never be: a naive, hopeful idiot.”

Now what could I have possibly missed? Oh, yes: the mandatory love-triangle. In this instance though, it's kind of a pseudo love triangle (again, don't read the synopsis because it predicts the whole outcome) one that doesn't even give a fair share for the boys "competing" for Avery's heart. In one corner we have Jack Bishop, intriguing and mysterious Brit Boy, and in the other arrogant and intense Stellan I-Don't-Remember-His-Last-Name (or even if he had any). Jack proved his determination and adorable overall cuteness, sprinkled with a dash of vulnerability and edge at the same time, but I honestly couldn't care less, because Stellan? Hot damn.

He strikes me as a Russian Jace Wayland and everybody knows my love for Jace knows no bounds, so the choice to be on Team Stellan was not so much of a choice -- but I don't want to see him with idiotic Avery at all. He's a tormented, sarcastic and sexy bad boy and it pained me not spending some more time with his kick-ass persona.

I want the next book pretty badly to see how the dynamic between this trio plays out, since they're going to be forced to work together. On the other hand, I felt like the secondary characters were very underdeveloped, but I'm satisfied just with the awesome story. In addition to that, Maggie Hall's writing improved in the process so that's always another plus.

“It turns out falling for someone doesn’t feel like falling at all.”

The Conspiracy of Us delivered a fascinating blend of action, secrets and mystical allure and I'd especially recommend it to fans of Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawking. I don't know if the comparison to DaVinci's Code or Ally Carter's series is true based, having not yet read these books (no tomatoes, please), but I still think you should read it. It's a perfect book for a spring afternoon -- easy to read and suspenseful enough to entertain you regardless of the characters' personalities.

Profile Image for Nikoleta.
693 reviews275 followers
October 5, 2017
Το θέμα το οποίο πραγματεύεται είναι εξωφρενικό, αλλά επειδή το διάβασα με την διάθεση που διαβάζω τα YA fantasy, δεν με ενόχλησε στιγμή το ότι ανακάτευε Μέγα Αλέξανδρο, Ναπολέοντα, Αριστοτέλη, με αρχαίους θησαυρούς, υπερδυνάμεις, το γονίδιο των βιολετιών ματιών, την ακαΐα κ.α.
Αντιθέτως είχε πλάκα.
Όντως έχει μέσα στοιχεία από Dan Brown –ταξιδάκια ανά την υφήλιο και ψαχουλέματα για στοιχεία σε παγκόσμια μνημεία. Είναι μια καλή περιπέτεια η οποία με διασκέδασε πολύ.
Το ρομάντζο επίσης το βρήκα πολύ χαριτωμένο.
Συνολικά δεν το βρήκα κατώτερο του μέσου όρου των βιβλίων YA. Μου άφησε πολύ καλές εντυπώσεις και μία όμορφη διάθεση.

3,5/5 αστεράκια
Profile Image for Kassidy.
340 reviews11k followers
December 31, 2014

This is definitely a fun and entertaining read. However, I didn't love the main character and the plot is predictable
Profile Image for Rose.
1,879 reviews1,065 followers
May 22, 2015
Quick review for a not-so-quick read. Usually Julia Whelan's narrations engage me enough to get through even the most tedious of books, but I still felt the burn listening to this book on audio. I had some try/fail cycles in picking this one up, finally succeeded in finishing the third time around, and I'm kind of surprised for a fast-paced caper thriller how dull, unimaginative, and notably incomplete it was. That's a shame, because I'd really looked forward to this read.

Maggie Hall's "The Conspiracy of Us" focuses on Avery West, a young woman who lives with her mother and can't get settled into one place at one time. As per "mandates", her mother moves them from place to place and Avery's bitterness shows as she finds something of a connection to the one place she's managed to stay for a time, even to get asked to prom by someone she's had her eye on for a while. But things aren't always what they seem, and Avery's pulled into an international scuffle with people who want to use and manipulate her for their own ends.

"The Conspiracy of Us" suffers much from overuse of YA tropes that are repetitious and underdeveloped, maybe even quite manipulative. Between Avery being the "special" heroine (her purple eyes tell as much since it reveals her link to a powerful group), and her affections being caught between a British and Russian boy who both work for the Circle - I had to swallow a bitter pill of awkward turns of overfocused lust in a love triangle that made no sense and haphazard worldbuilding. To say that Avery's a key in preventing a possible WW III and manipulating actual historical events without any due expansion and implausible measures really didn't sit well with me.

I couldn't connect to the places that Avery traveled or the fashion sense (it wasn't really immersive in any culture or vivid prose - Hall's prose is too surface focused). Even the characters themselves were too...shallow, for lack of a better word. Avery was far too passive of a heroine to really root for, Stellan and Jack I struggled to have a connection with despite few humanizing qualities, and even then, they were mostly helping Avery as she waited for them to help her out of messes. The puzzles and some action sequences and harrowing conflicts had potential, and that's probably what's keeping me on board to see if the next book in this series improves.

But honestly, I think this book had so much bark and not enough true bite. A shame because it's actually a really good premise to work with. I wish it had less focus on the silly, manipulative love triangle, and more on the harrowing action/adventure/puzzle/thriller/political game measure that came across in the blurb.

Overall score: 2/5 stars
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,635 reviews34k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
January 10, 2015
I set this down around 127 pages. It's perfectly fine, and I think fans of Ally Carter and Robin Benway's caper type books will enjoy. This one is a little confusing and not quite as strong in the characterization department, however, and I smell a love triangle as well. Those don't always bother me, but in this case I don't really know enough about any of the parties involved to care that much either way. I wish we'd seen more of Paris, too--though if you're only going to see Prada while you're there, that's not the worst thing. :P

May keep an eye out to see if other friends end up loving this, though, in which case I might pick it up again.

Also, if I've read at least 100 pages I'm usually comfortable in leaving a rating, but in this case I still haven't formed enough of an opinion for it to be fair.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.
Profile Image for Nasty Lady MJ.
1,060 reviews16 followers
January 16, 2015
To see full review with gifs click here.

I almost, almost, DNF’d this one. I should’ve DNF’d it. There were three strikes against it within the first hundred pages:

1) Purple eyes. Sorry, no. There are way too many Liz Taylor’s in the YA genre.

2) Bastardizing sensitive history. I like when history gets twisted, but stating that two tragic world wars were caused by a super elite family (um, no).

3) Forbidden romance. Enough said.

So, why did I keep reading this one?

The concept.

The concept was made for me. I was so sure (before I read said book) that this was going to be my book soulmate. I like conspiracy theories, ancient puzzles and mysteries, and some of my favorite movies involve McGuffin like quest. The Da Vinci Code comparison sealed the deal on the preorder button for me, but to be honest….the adaptation of The Da Vinci Code where Tom Hanks wears the heinous hair plugs is better than this book.

Even that show where Scott Wolter whines on and on about how The Templars did it is better than this book.

That’s sad.

What’s the problem?

Well, it committed three cardinal sins and it happened to suffer from bad characterization and bland jet setting.

Don’t worry, I’ll talk about all of them

Cardinal Sins:

1) Liz Taylor Eyes:

Yes, I know that violet eyes can occur in real life. Liz Taylor had them and so do other people, but it shouldn’t have been used as a major plot point to make our main character a super special snowflake.


I’m done with eye color plot lines. The truth behind eye color is really boring and deals with science, not magic. Plus, having a whole prophecy surrounding a purple colored girl is stupid considering that a small segment of the population has purple freaking eyes.

I think I really would’ve been able to handle the purple eye trope more if Avery just had purple eyes and it didn’t evolve into this whole big super plot.

Really, I was thinking Hall was almost trolling her audience when she decided to use that trope-that’s how overdone it is.

2) Bastardizing History:

I don’t mind alternate histories, but some events are too horrible to be bastardize. And that includes both world wars. I’m sorry, I have a hard time believing some super secret family started World War II or II. Let’s just forget about all that horrible history that occurred. Let’s just overlook those people’s faults because an evil World Order started it all.

3) Forbidden Love:

Do I even need to go here?

It just makes me roll my eyes at this point because it so overused. Here, I couldn’t care because of the poor characterization. I think a problem that often occurs with this trope is that the forbidden aspect is told to the audience BEFORE any relationship or world building is done and that’s what happens here. Seriously, it was like…oh, I have to give this relationship some oomph value…I know how I’ll make it forbidden. Add a prophecy that links two members of the triangle together and you have some vomitrocious worthy scenes.

Bland Characterization:

The characterization was zero. Avery is nice enough with her Sue eyes, but she has little no personality. And she had quite a few TSTL moments. The whole agreeing to go to Paris thing really didn’t make that much sense to me. I get that she’s a teen, and teens can act on impulse. But there was no logic to her decisions. And one of the guys who took her to Paris threatened to knife her…

Stupid much?

The boys.

One’s a secretive asshole with a British accent and one’s an outright asshole with a Russian accent.

I don’t joke.

They’re really about the same to me. However, the British asshole screams more love interest than the Russian asshole who’s just a tad bit psycho.

Both of them, obviously, are super model good looking.

Bland Jet Setting:

This book takes place in both Paris and Istanbul. The use of those cities alone should make me excited. But except for visiting Prada-which I could do if I went to the Galleria area in Houston-and a few French phrases that anyone can learn if they take Rosetta Stone. There wasn’t anything remotely French about this book.

The same goes with Istanbul as well.

When you’re jet setting, it’s important that the audience feels the cities you’re visiting. Both Paris and Istanbul are rich cities with character. However, both of them could’ve been in Nowheresville, America as far as I know.

This book wasn’t disgusting overall. Despite reeking of cliches and tropes, I have read worse. The thing that bothered me the most about The Conspiracy of Us was that it had so much potential and it squandered it.
Profile Image for Jillian .
441 reviews1,814 followers
February 3, 2016
*4.25 stars*

So good so good! Very exciting. I really liked all the characters. I just wish the main character Avery was slightly more fleshed out. I felt a sort of disconnect to her character sometimes. I really liked jack but I LOVED Stellan. He's so interesting and his mysterious childhood and back story has me so intrigued. Can't wait for the next book that comes out this year!
Profile Image for Jess.
470 reviews598 followers
January 14, 2015
°☆.。.:*・Actual Rating: 4.5 stars °☆.。.:*・

I’m about to write y’all the most subjective review ever. Except I’m conscious of my subjectivism. So henceforth, feast your eyes, and minds, on what I like to call my objective portrayal of a highly subjective review. You’re welcome.

Those of you who’ve been around for a while may know of a post I did a while back, something along the lines of bookish kyrptonites—all things that roped me into (at times) rather dud, and on the rare occasion, winning, books. I optimistically titled the post “Part One”, as though I’d have the amount of concentration, or time, to go back and whip up a part two. At this stage, I’m tempted. But I’m also tempted by things like shoes, and sleep and giving in and indulging in caffeine but those things aren’t meant to happen. What’s the point of this, Jess? I have one, I promise. The thing is, had Part Two come to life, it would have told you all about my weakness for all books Dan Brown-esque, for lack of better word. For those who’ve yet to read Brown (shocker, have y’all not let pop culture erode you? I kid, I kid, you’re probably better off haha), he does all these conspiracy mystery novels with biblical underlinings (because you can’t go back in history and not touch religion). I’ve seen people moan, and complain, and trash Brown for encouraging the slandering of certain religions and history itself and honestly, I care not. Because as I’ve also established some time in the past, I also believe in aesthetic liberty. Brown wants to explore fictional retellings of the very things that bind society together. People are scared of insinuation. But honestly, I don’t give a rat’s ass. He’s creating fictional art and that should be free and unbound. But that’s for another day, folks (or go back to the post, I suppose ha).

What I’m trying to get at here, rather tangentially (what more do you expect from me?) is that The Conspiracy of Us is quite literally a rather conventional (now, now, don’t take this negatively) take on a mysterious conspiracy, just substituting a female protagonist for Langdon and mixing in YA’s penchant for romance (or as I like to know it, the romantic genre requirement. No biggie.)

Why’d you use three parenthesis’ in that one sentence, Jess? Because without them it’s a rather negative sentence. Don’t lie. Read the sentence alone and you’ll probably wince. And well, judging by the rating, I’m here to convince you of my love for this book, am I not?

The Conspiracy of Us hits home for me. No, I don’t mean I’m secretly a part of some secret organisation who’d happily hack body parts off its enemies and swim in their bodily fluids. I get a little sentimental around this book because (as embarrassing as this is—remind me to stop doing that) it reminds me off these series of dreams that I used to have. Now I’m not going to give anything away about this book but I’ll have you know, I used to dream these weird things. Highly biblical dependent. Political instability, secret societies, histories covered up by mounds and mounds of lies. Only difference was, I never got technical about the details. I mean, dream!me did a bunch of running, country hopping (with little care to travel time and time zones, that was trivial) and canoodling with some rather dreamy guys (oh god, stop me now.) It was back when I’d first discovered Dan Brown and the likes. I obviously overindulged and it affected me subconsciously. But in essence, this book was the equivalent to my dreams coming to life. And that’s quite sentimental for a girl, alright. Especially one at a crossroad in her life, and these little things just come back and they hit you hard, like a train hellbent on conjuring a bunch of emotions.

I’d normally say something like “but forget me”, but in this instance, I’m kind of central (as in, I’m central to this review ). Because while I was happily enamoured throughout my experience, I couldn’t help but catch a few things that I just know would bother many of you. I believe in transparency, so I want you all to realise the subjectivity of my experience.

Conspiracy is a fast paced, highly delectable read, should you not think too deeply into certain sentences and whatnot. It’s a bildungsroman. Avery West, innocent and all, gets thrust into a rather deadly game of life. It’s politics, life and death and a battle that’s been fought for many years—the battle for power. Man’s favourite drug. It’s a bunch of twists and turns (some conventional, others rather entertaining) and it’s bound to have you on your feet. Sure, the lines get cheesy every now and again, and sure, the romance will most probably have you all rather frustrated, but its saviour is in the fact that its mystery undertone guides the story further and further. Not once does it come stagnant. Which is a winning factor as it helps detract from elements that may be unfavoured.

I loved Hall’s writing. It’s not over embellished (although, y’all should know that I’m rather partial to that style), but there’s an underlying tone of lyricism every now and again. Which makes for a quick and un-convoluted read. There are two male leads. And would you believe it—I feel no favour for either side. I’m honestly neutral for once in my life (or as neutral as I can be, obviously I’m more interested in one but guys, that’s more me shipping me than shipping any protagonist so give me no care). You’re groaning, I know you are. Is it a love triangle Jess? Is it? Many people have different definitions and my definition is not to jump to conclusions (I kid, do hit me up if you want to know how I specifically define this). So I don’t believe there’s a love triangle in Conspiracy. There’s lust. But you know, nearly being killed can do things to a person, alright? There’s a sense of urgency to life suddenly. And we see that.

Another aspect that could bother people is the descriptions of the male species (oh am I feeling rather pretentious today). There are short and quick descriptions of “ethereal” males, and “God-like” if I remember correctly. I know that gets some of you. Keep that in mind. But it’s flitted over and you’d hardly notice it. Or perhaps you will, now that I’ve said something. The thing is, the protagonist, Avery is highly aware of her own absurdity, especially in life and death situations. Which was so refreshing to read.

“It felt so trivial to be sad about a boy right now.”

There’s also one scene in there which I thought was rather aesthetically beautiful, description wise. It paints a beautiful image. Two people brought together so intimately, yet innocently. It’s a nice vision. It’s also one that many will dislike, just because other than being aesthetically pleasing, I can see people complaining about believability and whatnot. Which is fine. It didn’t bother me. Like I said, I had weird dreams which made this book subjectively positive for me.

It’s a gory book which was an element that I loved, and I’m sure many will appreciate. Because unlike a lot of YA, this wasn’t simply PG action scenes. There’s mentions of blood, there’s gore. And it heightened the atmosphere, the stakes. Definitely a nice touch.

The Conspiracy of Us was the perfect book for me. I wanted YA in the vein of the Da Vinci Code. I got the YA equivalent. No one was conned in between. I go through reading slumps every week and I didn’t think I would make it out of this week’s. But that’s all changed now. Conspiracy was devoured in a manner of hours. It was filled with delectable plot twists, a great cast of characters (there’s a rather mysterious Russian guy that I’m in love with, alright?) and lyrical prose that heightened the tone of the book. Hall writes a stunning debut, and she’s kind of hit the nail on the head for me. Conspiracy was just a Jess book, in many ways (especially the odd dream parallels). It’s up to you to decide, but hey, don’t tell me I wasn’t honest. Look how objective I attempted to be. But alas, reading is one of the most subjective experiences there are. I adored The Conspiracy of Us. Where do I sell my soul for the sequel? We need more YA like this (to keep Jess happy, of course).
Profile Image for Katie.
522 reviews423 followers
June 20, 2021
Re-read, June 2021
After 7 years(!), I’m not as enamored with the book, though that’s more a comment on me than the book. (And I didn’t lower my original rating.) I’d still 100% recommend it to a teen, and I think it’s unlike a lot of other YA books coming out now. The level of innocence makes it a good rec’ for younger teens especially. For fans of Ally Carter.

Original review, May 2014
Oh. My. Gosh.

Normally, I like to be all professional and articulate when I review books, especially now that I'm considered an "author" and other authors are "peers." But let's be totally honest right now - there's no way I'm going to do anything except for flail over this book.

Commence squee-ing in




You know those books that are "me books" - the ones that you see announced on PM or PW, read the premise of, and think, "Wow, that's exactly the kind of book I like"? This is one of those books for me. I've been itching to read it since I heard about it and was painfully disappointed when the release date was pushed back to 2015 from 2014.

I probably should have been a little nervous that it wouldn't live up to my expectations, but whatever - because it totally *did* live up to them.

This book is SO FUN! Everything about it is exciting and romantic and compulsively readable. You're dragged into Avery's adventure from the very beginning, and the book doesn't let you go until the last page, when you're sitting there thinking, "BUT WHY IS IT OVER?!"

I literally looked up from the book, a huge grin on my face, and shook my iPad and squealed. Multiple times. At work. (Apologies to my coworkers if I looked like a total nutjob.)

I could sit here and tell you how great the pacing was and how I really enjoyed Avery's narrative and how the foreign settings (yes, multiple) flow seamlessly with the plot, but really, all you need to know is that this is one of the most entertaining YA books I've read. I couldn't put it down. If my schedule had allowed for it, I would have read it in one sitting.

Okokokay I feel like I *have* to mention the swoon factor, because this book totally has it.

Let's just say that I have totally fallen for a certain half-Russian-half-Swedish hottie. I basically loved him from the first description of his trendy outfit, and after reading the whole book, all I've got to say is, "Move over, Dmitri from Vampire Academy, because there's a new hot Russian in town!"

Also, Chapter 34. That's all I'll say about that.

Bottom line: READ. THIS. BOOK.

Basically, me after reading it:

I'm not gonna shut up about this one until everyone I know has read it. Just FYI. Be prepared for an onslaught of recommendations, because this book is awesome. The end.
Profile Image for Rachel E. Carter.
Author 9 books3,512 followers
January 2, 2018
Huh. Fist half of book 5 stars and then Stellan disappeared and I got bored (I'm not a huge history buff so easy to lose me with all the artifact hunting and whatnot)... but that ending, that ending gave me hope Jack is not end game (thank god!), and so for romance's sake alone, I will continue to book 2 because Stellan is worth reading about and a girl can dream...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for  ♥ Rebecca ♥.
1,361 reviews381 followers
February 22, 2018
This book was a lot of fun! It was a bit like Ruby Red with a bit of the movie National Treasure mixed in. There was absolutely nothing sci-fi or paranormal about it besides the mention of a prophecy, but its mysterious existence is basically just accepted. This is all action/adventure/mystery/romance.

I really enjoyed all the history and geography in this. It starts out with Avery in high school, in Minnesota I think. She then travels to Paris, then Istanbul, then Paris again, where they visit several museums as well as the Notre-Dame cathedral. It all felt real to me, like we were really there, and I can't wait for them to travel further in the following books, in search of Alexander's tomb.

Avery was a very average girl and of course some times she made silly mistakes, such as getting on the plane with Stellan in the first place. But she held herself together well and I was proud of her for not completely losing her shit when people started shooting at her. She helped Jack plan along the way and saved him at Notre-Dame. But she still felt very genuine and realistic.

And I loved Jack. He was such a sweetheart. I rarely ever like the bad boy types, except on very rare occasions. But this is not one of them. Jack is quiet and kind and brave and he goes out of his way to protect Avery again and again, and risks his life just to be with her. I wasn't sure how far a romance would go in this book, or if it would be less of a focus. But I am glad that there was time for a lot of romance in this.

“I've never considered breaking that oath before. Ever. But I did, for you... It was all for you.”

I don't understand everyone's fascination with Stellan though. I mean, he never did anything interesting. He was rude. He pulled a knife on Avery twice. How is that likable? I am glad that he was not really portrayed as a love interest at least. He was good-looking enough for Avery to notice, but that's about it. She never trusted him, and with good reason. He mostly just hung around and never made a scene. So I appreciate that he didn't try to be a scene-stealer at least. But after that ending, I am sure the love-triangle aspect will be vamped up in the next book. I am not looking forward to that at all, especially since Avery and Jack ended in such a good place. They better not go through with Stellan's idea.

So I totally loved this book for being a lot of fun, a great adventure with great mystery, romance, and likable characters, besides Stellan. I really swallowed it up and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
Profile Image for booknuts_.
759 reviews1,188 followers
February 17, 2015
Review found at: www.awesomebooknuts.blogspot.com

3.5 I had some high hopes for this book! I had some high hopes for this book! The cover is amazing, the book sounded amazing! And I honestly can say there isn't really anything WRONG with the book, it just....didn't do it for me like I'd hoped.

It started off really cool, and I really enjoyed that there were these families who really are in control of the world, and how this girl, Avery was hidden away all that and then all of a sudden her life is just thrown for a wild ride as she learns that she has family, she has power, she has money and everything someone could ever ask for. Anything she wants, all she has to do is snap her fingers and it's hers. I loved the gowns, the shopping, the sights, the historical aspects weaved into the story, I love the masquerade ball, I loved the chase and the action, plus the mystery.

Avery is very likable but there were times I was like, "come on! you aren't a baby! DO SOMETHING!" I dunno, I liked her but there were times I just rolled my eyes. She's naive, gullible, nice, sweet, and normal-almost.

There there are the two ridiculously hot guys vying for her attention. Hot guy #1 who is sweet, kind, fiercely loyal and takes his job seriously. I like Bishop but then he made me roll my eyes because of course he makes decisions based off of his feelings even though after YEARS of loyal to his family he is able to just chuck that out the window for his feelings. gah! where is the tension and hardship there?! boo. I really liked Bishop at first there was so much mystery behind him and loved that he was "all-about-the-job" and then his feelings got in the way and I didn't like him that much anymore. He became a bit boring to me.

Then there is hot guy #2 who is the "opposite" of Bishop-rebel, mysterious, brooding, "bad-boy" Stellan-who I was interested in way more almost immediately after I was introduced to his character. I was more interested in him because he has more mystery, and he broods. I like a guy who is charismatic and yet with his feelings he broods. I liked that he tried but Avery was so Avery that he was tied. I loved his and look forward to more of him.

Overall the idea of the story was great but there was-about half way through-a lot of eye rolling for me.

Sexual Content: moderate (PG-kissing)
Language: moderate
Violence: moderate (some fighting, killing, bloody scenes)
Drugs/Alcohol: moderate (PG)
Profile Image for Debby.
589 reviews538 followers
August 16, 2017
2 stars

WARNING: I am spoiling this entire book for you and I don't care.

*deep sigh* It's been almost 3 months since I read this book, but I'm just getting around to reviewing it now. It's so laughably terrible that I needed to have the right energy and enough time to fully explain why. Honestly, before I dove into the book, I'd already seen that the public opinion on it was largely negative - but I still went into it with an open mind. It has such a beautiful cover and awesome premise (YA Da Vinci Code!), that I desperately wanted to like it. However, by page 24 my hopes were already shot.

On page 24, the main character reveals herself to be a TSTL speshul snowflake - a theory which only gets more and more support as the story goes on. First: she has purple eyes. I know I'm not alone in my hatred for purple eyes because it's usually the first step to have a total wish fulfillment speshul Mary Sue-like character, who is just so beautiful it's not fair. It's also unrealistic. Purple eyes don't happen (don't fucking cite Elizabeth Taylor to me, her eyes only sometimes looked purple due to lighting/make-up/clothing - there are scientific articles about this), so unless there's some paranormal/sci-fi/fantastical reasoning behind it, it should not be in contemporary books.

Admittedly there is a reason for Avery's purple eyes and she's not the only person on earth with the eye color. It's actually a link to her father's family, though she has no idea who he is. That family is part of an elite Circle of Twelve families that controls the world (more on that later), and all those 12 families have the gene for purple eyes due to interbreeding (because that's how that works, no birth defects, just purple eyes). So she's not super speshul. But then, she's the only GIRL with purple eyes, so she is speshul, so speshul that there's even a prophecy about her (we'll get to that too).

Oh and did I mention that Avery has been bullied and teased for her purple eyes as a kid, because no one thought they could possibly be real? So much so that she wears colored contacts to hide them? Yeah, feel very sorry for this speshul unfortunately beautiful girl. Further descriptions of Avery:

"Has anyone ever told you that you look like one of those dolls?" he said. "A... kuklachka. How do you say it in English? With the white skin and the big eyes."

"A porcelain doll." My pale complexion and dark hair would have been enough, but add dark eyes and cheeks that flushed too easily and too often--like I was determined for them not to do right now--and that sealed it. He wasn't the first to make the comparison.
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

"Five foot two inches tall." He looked me up and down again, and I straightened automatically. "One hundred and three pounds."
"Could use a little more meat on those bones, if you ask me," he said, leaning across the seat to wrap one slim hand entirely around my upper arm.
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Her TSTL (too stupid to live) nature also reveals itself very early on. When the new, mysterious, handsome guy at school, Jack, drops a picture of her that he was carrying, instead of being creeped the fuck out, she decides to get closer to him and go to prom with him. As you do. She usually keeps herself from making friends because she moves constantly (later revealed as her mom trying to keep her hidden from the Circle of Twelve), but when she hears she'll be moving again she figures she can have one night of fun with this presumed stalker. At the dance, she meets this other guy, Stellan, who she'd spotted once before leering at her from a parking lot. He grabs her to go dance, and then Jack comes along and they start fighting with cryptic reasoning over her. And thus the seeds of the love triangle are planted, because this book needs to cover every YA cliché ever.

This Stellan guy seems a bit more forceful and dangerous than Jack - who for the record does try to be honest with her and does seem to be looking out for her. But both guys have been sent by MYSTERIOUS MIGHTY PEOPLE to find her. Those people are connected to her father, who might be from one of these Circle of Twelve families. But instead of confronting her mom, who never told her about this side of her family, she obviously decides to drop everything and right that minute fly off to Paris with STELLAN. Not Jack, he'll catch up with them later. And this in spite of her earlier musings that her mom was basically her only friend and only constant in the world. *sigh*

So she finds out she's probably related to the Circle of Twelve and arrives in Paris like a total dumbass. Her supposed family, the Saxons, are not there but would arrive the next day, so she's staying with the Dauphins in a wing of the Louvre. Like you do. When you practically run the world, you get to live in one of the world's most famous museums because duh. She finds out that Jack is a "Keeper" for the Saxons, and Stellan is a "Keeper" for the Dauphins. Keepers are something like bodyguards, and the two families are kinda rivals but kinda not.

The next day there is a ball or something, so obviously they have to go dress shopping. At Prada. Which the Dauphins just had closed for the day so they would have the shop to themselves. Stellan leaves her there to try on dresses and just before she's ready to leave, this guy comes in and tries to attack her. She runs and gets stabbed in her arm, but then Stellan and Luc (the heir to the Dauphins) arrive and kill the assassin and his partner. One had his head cut off. The other was stabbed in the chest in front of Avery. So THAT escalated quickly, but Avery is hardly traumatized - not by the deaths happening in front of her, or by these new "friends" who hardly blinked before killing people.

Jack reveals that the assassins are from the Order, who are against the Circle - they don't believe the Circle should be in charge of the world. The Circle is basically the New World Order - descendants of Alexander the Great who hold almost every position of power everywhere. They are responsible for the two world wars (because of internal feuding) and all this other shit (which, okay, maybe I fucking agree with the Order and the Circle needs to die).

Avery then reveals she has purple eyes just like Luc, and Jack is *SHOCKED* because this means she's a direct descendant of one of the heads of the families. The whole prophecy gets revealed - when the girl with purple eyes and the One are joined, it will somehow reveal treasure, wealth, power, and weapons - the birthright to the Circle, left behind somewhere by Alexander the Great. Now, Jack tells her some of these things and offers to take her to the Saxons who will keep her safe. Obviously the Order wants to kill her, and the other families would try to manipulate her. But Avery thinks that Jack and the Saxons would keep her under intense scrutiny, while Luc and Stellan don't know about her eyes yet, so if she stays with them she'll have a bigger chance of sneaking off. She's acting like she's been kidnapped even though she voluntarily went off to Paris with them, because retconning makes for great storytelling.

Because she is so too stupid to live, she goes off with Luc and Stellan, who for some reason are going clubbing in ISTANBUL so bye bye Paris. Anyway, they're clubbing in Istanbul and Avery learns about more of this prophecy stuff in infodumps from Luc because why not. The prophecies are apparently all super accurate because they were made by the Oracle at Delphi and stuff because reasons. And this one - the Mandate - is so important because of the internal power struggles. The families all want to be the One. To get all the glory.

Finally it seems like Avery is acting with minimal intelligence, and she does try to sneak away.. But then Jack shows up outside on a motorcycle because apparently he'd put a tracer in her purse - isn't that romantic? He takes her to find Fitz / Mr. Emerson - his mentor, and her previous neighbor from when they lived in Boston. Fitz knows THINGS, but had sent a message to Jack that things were going wrong and they had to follow the clues he leaves them. When they get to his apartment, they find blood everywhere, and eventually they find a secret message that they have to go on a scavenger hunt thing because apparently "they are wrong about the mandate." (They call the prophecy "the mandate" as if those terms are synonyms. *sigh*)

The Order then shows up and the two try to escape out the window. A chase sequence follows, and when they finally get away in a market, the two are pressed close together and tempted to kiss. Because obviously, being on the run makes for the perfect time for kissing. They go to the Haggia Sophia, where Fitz worked, and where the first of three clues would be hidden. It points them towards the Notre Dame in Paris. They narrowly escape from the Order again - who yell that they will kill Fitz if they don't tell them who the One is - and go back to Paris.

At the Notre Dame, they find the next clue - a gargoyle that "watches over" the place, and they realize where it's looking would be the next location. (They puzzled over this for ages, but I had it figured out in seconds. *sigh*) It's looking at the ferris wheel and Jack says it's the Louvre.

FREEZE FRAME: This is INCORRECT. The ferris wheel in Paris is in the Tuileries Garden. It is next to, but not part of, the Louvre. FACT CHECK FAIL.

Regardless, they go to the Louvre anyway, and find the next clue there (it should have been in Tuileries but whateverrrrrrr) in an exhibit, where Avery crawls under a sarcophagus. When the security guard comes to question them, she says she fainted and fell UNDER the sarcophagus. Because that's so believable. Well, the guard thought so. (THIS BOOK IS SO RIDICULOUS.)

The Order shows up again and chases them, but by disguising themselves (by switching coats) and pretending to be a couple kissing, they manage to evade them. Then they come back around, so Avery actually kisses him, and it's all very dramatic and cliché - but honestly I'm a glutton for this kind of situation so I giggled anyway. At this point, Jack reveals that Keepers get killed if they get involved with anyone from the Circle in that way, so OOPS IT'S FORBIDDEN. (Yep, we needed to fit in that cliché too.)

The Louvre had yielded them a book by Napoleon, where he documents more about the prophecy. After some research and sleuthing, a masquerade ball on the third level of the Eiffel tower, eavesdropping on conversations between the Circle families, meeting her father, make out sessions, and Stellan finding out that Avery has purple eyes, Dauphin kidnaps Avery and decides to force her to marry Luc, so that he will be "the One". (Right: the Circle is all about the patriarchy, with women mostly being good for marrying off and bearing children.)

While in captivity, she, Jack, and Stellan start piecing together the clues and realize that what Napoleon had figured out was that the interpretation the Circle had was wrong. The prophecy mentions "the One superior to all others" - as in a thirteenth descended from Alexander himself. And as there's a bit in the prophecy about the One walking through fire unharmed and Avery realizes that Stellan has burn scars and he was brought to the Circle by Fitz after surviving a fire... They test it out with a lighter - he feels the pain of fire but it doesn't leave a mark on him (because reasons). Dun dun dunnnn, Stellan is likely the One.

Anyway, the wedding is on, in Notre Dame because obvi. However, after many dramatics, Avery reveals herself to the crowd as having purple eyes, exposing Dauphin for tricking the Circle and trying to use Avery for her "power". Chaos erupts, and she manages to escape with Jack, aided by Luc and Stellan. They contact the Order to ask for more time, but they kill Fitz and reveal that they kidnapped Avery's mother. They want the identity of the One ASAP.

The story comes to a close the next day, when Avery and Jack meet up with Stellan, now enemies of the Circle and the Order. Stellan agrees to help them and comes with a last bombshell...

"That's right, kuklachka. Congratulations to us. It appears you and I are getting married."
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

While big picture this story is pretty terrible - mostly due to the very many clichés and terrible writing - there is some entertainment value. The chase scenes are decently intense. Avery doesn't escape unscathed, and enough characters get wounded/killed that it's not entirely lame. Towards the end, when more of the conspiracy stuff comes to light, there is an actual sense of complexity to the story that can be fun for readers to puzzle out. But then again, it usually comes with enough contradictions/inaccuracies to make me groan again.

The biggest mystery to me is that I actually didn't find the romance altogether terrible. It's cliché and corny and overdramatic - sure. And they are super ~attracted~ to each other and tempted to kiss at the absolute worst of times. But the kiss scenes themselves are almost swoonworthy? However, all the stalking and dramatic stuff does keep me from boarding a ship. (Though, for the record, Jack is superior to Stellan.)

All in all, if the story isn't ridiculous enough for you, there are more than enough horrific examples of the writing.

Stellan pulled out the other bar stool and sat. My feet dangled, but his rested solidly on the floor.
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

(Apparently Stellan is 8 feet tall and/or ridiculously proportioned.)

Jack nodded. "I need to borrow a shirt from Fitz anyway," he said, rolling his shoulders. The shirt from Prada was a little tight, and stretched taut across his shoulders. The butterflies flapped harder, but I shook them off. What was wrong with me? How could I possibly be thinking about how good he looked in a tight shirt right now?
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

(Oh look at me, I'm so cliché, but I recognize the ridiculousness, so then it's not cliché, right?)

But the best thing ever, and the quote of the book, in my opinion, comes when Luc explains the significance of the number twelve in the world, all due to the Circle.

Luc grinned wider. "Then you'll really be impressed with this. The twelve months of the calendar. Inches in a foot. Hours in a day. Zodiac symbols. The 'twelve' aspects of those all came into being around 300 BC, just around when the Diadochi took over."
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Twelve hours in a day.

Twelve hours in a day.


Summing Up:

You might wonder why I didn't give this the lowest rating possible, but that's simply because this book is so bad it genuinely became a bit entertaining. The Conspiracy of Us is a gold mine of clichés, bad writing, inaccuracies, terrible characters, and corny, dramatic romance. Laughing at it was not the worst way to spend my time. But I do doubt I'll go out of my way to read the sequel.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

I would NOT, unless you're a glutton for punishment. Or... if you liked The Jewel.

Snuggly Oranges - YA Book Blog
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,665 reviews1,231 followers
January 22, 2015
I love a good jet-setting mystery, and this one was even better than I'd been hoping. Kinda fun, kinda flighty and more than a bit sexy, this book takes the reader from Minnesota to Paris to Istanbul, and though the characters are running for their lives and don't get to explore much, it was fun to go along for the ride. It's a little far-fetched, but it's so exciting and fast-paced that it's easy to forget just how unrealistic this whole plot is.

Conspiracy theories and the like fascinate me, but I've never been one to buy into them. And I'm not usually one to enjoy those stories that focus on the female main character as the key to the puzzle, the missing link, the savior, etc. But in this case, since there's a caper to be unraveled and bigger things to discover, it didn't bother me so much.

I definitely got a potential "love triangle in the second book" vibe from this book, though, which may bother some readers. Honestly that aspect felt kind of forced, so I'm pretty sure which guy will come out ahead. But it's still one of those situations where I could see either guy being a good fit, and those are the hardest to reconcile in my head once the choice is made.

I didn't know this was a series when I added the book to my TBR shelf, but I discovered that fact before I actually listened to it. I should probably have waited because, while it doesn't end on the biggest of cliffhangers, it does still leave you hanging.

Glad I went the audio route with this book because I adore Julia Whelan. She is great at foreign languages, too, which is necessary for a book like this, that transports you to other locales where English is not the native tongue.

If you like stories focused on conspiracy plots, secret societies and prophecies and you're a fan of YA novelists like Ally Carter and Robin Benway, I think you'll find something to enjoy in this book.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.5k followers
April 14, 2016
So I went into this thinking it was going to be a multi-dimensional/time traveley book and I was sooooo wrong. It's actually kind of like a YA illuminati book, hahahah. Anyway, this book was okay. Nothing too special. I can't decide if I care enough to carry on with the series. We shall seeeeeee
January 16, 2015
I think most readers added this book to their TBR when they say it was a YA version of The Da Vinci Code. I'm the opposite. At first, I though, 'ooooh pretty cover!' But since I've never seen or read The Da Vinci Code, that was never really a selling point for me. But I couldn't resist the audiobook when I found out that Julia Whelan was narrating it, who is fantastic! It did take me a little bit to get through the beginning of the book, but once the plot gets moving, it's fast paced all the way!

Avery has always life a somewhat boring life. Having to move every few years, because of her mother's job, doesn't leave Avery with the desire to even try making friends. Because of this, she's a bit of a loner. When the new guy at her school, Jack and the mysterious Stellan, show up at her prom and tell her that she is in danger, she doesn't know what to believe. But the possibility of having family, someone who might care about her, causes Avery to let them whisk her off to France. What she thought would be a meeting with family turns out to be so much more when she's suddenly in the middle of a secret society who apparently control everything (media, politics, etc.). After an attempt on her life, Avery and Jack discover that she is more important to The Circle of Twelve than anyone originally thought.

My favorite character: Jack. As a Keeper (some kind of bodyguard) of one of the families of The Circle of Twelve, Jack is in charge of Avery's safety. He is also forbidden from getting involved with her. I loved the forbidden love aspect that it gave the story. The romance between Jack and Avery is that slow burn type. Lingering looks leading to stolen touches which eventually lead to forbidden kisses. There were some very swoony kisses and scenes in this book! Avery was a great MC. Sure, she was naive at times and she made dumb choices, but being suddenly in the middle of a secret society war can do that to an almost 17-year-old girl. Throw in being shot at and having to go on the run, stupid decisions are bound to happen. She made realistic dumb choices, if that makes sense. I really loved the fast paced plot, and trying to figure out clues that not only have us guessing, but the characters too. For a YA book, I'm so glad this wasn't 'dumbed down.' We have quite of bit of violence and gore and I loved it!

I know the summary hints at a love triangle, and honestly, after my last two bad experiences with love triangles in books (Ensnared and Dead of Winter), I was worried that I would be annoyed by it in this book. But, I never really felt like this book had a love triangle. Sure, she says Stellan is really good-looking (but not in an annoying way girls do where that's all they seem to focus on, more like a 'whoa this guy is hot') but I think the real love story is between Avery and Jack. [spoiler] I honestly never even felt any romantic vibes from Avery and/or Stellan. Sure, he makes a few flirty comments to her, but that just felt like that was usual Stellan as opposed to him saying it because he liked Avery. It also seemed like these comments were made in moments of high stress. Avery is with Jack in this book and I didn't even get any jealousy vibes from Stellan. [/spoiler] There is always the possibility that this might become a love triangle in the next book, but for now the dreaded love triangle isn't present. If you've read The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo, I got the same vibes from Avery and Stellan as I had with Alina and Nikolai. Sure, they could be a great couple, but the chemistry wasn't there on either side.

Even though the endings ends on a bit of a cliffhanger (I didn't think it was a cliffhanger, but most people probably will), I really love the way things ended. Even if I am annoyed because I want the next book already. I just love when a book that is out of my comfort zone surprises the hell out of me and I end up loving it. If prophecies, secret societies, forbidden love, danger, secrets, masked balls and explosions is your thing, this is the book for you! Bonus: this book will seriously give you a case of wanderlust! We are taken to Paris and Istanbul and even though they are essentially on the run and in danger, you can't help but appreciate the setting and the details.

Audiobook Comments: This is my 5th audiobook narrated by Julia Whelan (Princess of Thorns, Falling Into Place, Tease, Flat-Out Love) and although all of them have been really good, this is my favorite so far! I'm so glad they picked Whelan because this book takes us to France and Turkey and we meet many different characters with different accents, and she pulls them off so damn well. I love how as soon as someone starts talking, you can tell which character it is by their accent or tone. We only have Julia's POV in this book, but I love that she gave Jack and Stellan their own distinct voice. I hate when all male characters pretty much sound the same. This book would have taken me a lot longer to finish if I had to read it, but with the audiobook, I couldn't put it down. Whelan's amazing performance only added more to the already great storyline. I'll definitely be listening to the rest of the series on audio.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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