Surfer Girl by Lynn Blackmar is an action book, basically within the spy genre, with an interesting angle: the main character is not a male spy but rather a fit, smart college girl with a board-surfing skill. Her talent brings her to the attention of CIA recruiters for an outfit (called the Misfits) specializing in the round up of the enemy's James Bond-ish toys--in this case, a hovercraft. The agents press Arena into service, and a large part of the book is about her training. Though at the beginning the setup seems a bit implausible--I doubt CIA operatives are in fact recruited this way--all seems to fall into place as the plot puts Arena under increasing pressure. The software games used as training are ingenious, a missing roommate turns up again, and so forth.
I am charmed by the author's description of how she was pursued by her characters after literally dreaming up the story. I must also say I'm not the target audience for this novel, as my reading taste runs to Thackeray, Dickens, and Austen. However, I read Lynn's short book with pleasure. I think it has a lot going for it. In terms of meeting the expectation set up by its author--"a good afternoon read by the pool"--it earns four stars from this reviewer for accomplishing what it sets out to do.
I like the way the plot marches forward, driven by action verbs. The description, while sparse, is adroit. The characters are not so distinctively drawn as they might be--a bit more idiosyncrasy might be in order. But they are likeable, and their dialogue, which dominates the book, sounds authentic. I'm interested to see how they emerge in the next book in the series. I might add the book is well edited, that this eagle-eyed English professor detected very little to fuss over.
Overall, Surfer Girl is a fast-paced, enjoyable read, a good choice for fans of action novels.Anne Carlisle, author of the Home Schooling trilogy