by Nova McBee
Josephine River’s world is made up of numbers. She sees the world in calculations, allowing her to mathematically predict things before they happen and also to make the best business moves after a mere glance at the numbers.
When Jo leaves her father’s business to join a company that works with prodigies, Jo’s world turns upside down. She never arrives at her destination. Rather, she’s kidnapped and forced to use her gift for her captor. When Jo realizes that her captor is the world’s most wanted smuggler, she decides her gift is a curse and that she has to escape. But Jo only escapes from the hands of one criminal into the hands of another.
Once more a captive, Jo is forced to keep using her curse to help her captors. Only when a man named Red helps Jo does she begin to see her curse once more as a gift. Red helps Jo finally escape from her captors, allowing her a new shot at life.
And with this new shot, this new identity, Jo is determined to take down the criminals who ruined her life. But as Jo gets started, she comes across a new calculation. An equation that predicts disaster for the world. And she’s the only one who can stop it.
Calculated was a very enjoyable read.
Calculated is told in dual timelines, with each time line following one of Jo’s identities. McBee does a nice job balancing the dual timelines and tension, and also revealing information from the different timelines as it was needed. I was super curious about learning all of Jo’s story and how everything fit together.
I also liked how Jo is a math prodigy. While I’m not good at math, it was neat to see a character like that since they’re not super common in fiction. McBee also did a great job of making sure we knew about Jo’s numbers and how she sees the world without it being overwhelming or detracting from the plot.
The main climax of the novel did feel a little small, but it was understandable because of Jo’s position and role during the main climax.
Calculated is pitched as a gender-swapped mash-up of The Count of Monte Cristo and Mission Impossible. However, I haven’t read/watched either The Count of Monte Cristo or Mission Impossible, so I can’t say how Calculated matches those. It did in some ways though remind me of the story of Joseph. I won’t explain how though. Spoilers after all! But I enjoyed that aspect of it.
The ending perfectly sets up so many things so the next book in the series without leaving the reader completely dangling. I’m excited to see what McBee has in store next for Jo and Kai.
The plot of Calculated does deal with rescuing trafficked girls. McBee deals with all of it gently, and it’s never talked about in detail.
Cautions: one instance of “coarse” language; mentions of trafficking; a brief scene involving an attempted seduction; several instances of brief kissing; brief violence.
**I received an ARC of Calculated through NetGalley, which did not affect my review. Calculated releases from Wise Wolf Books on February 11, 2021**