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Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.Β 

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can–and cannot–be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover first-hand that power always comes with a price.

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Phew! I just finished this last night and I feel like I just got off a roller coaster! I really loved The Fixer, but I have to say I think Jennifer Lynn Barnes has really outdone herself with this sequel. I think I described the first book as a combination of the tv series Scandal and Veronica Mars. Well The Long Game moves a little away from that, and after a somewhat humorous beginning, segues into much darker territory, culminating in a shocking and brutal turn of events which leaves not only our spunky heroine Tess reeling by the betrayal of someone close to her, but the reader as well.

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What the author has done is to take the events from the first book and build upon them, creating an intricately woven story that throws Tess, Henry, Vivvie, and Asher into a terrifyingly dangerous situation where it’s not clear if they’ll all come out unscathed. Trust is the prevailing theme in this book and it impacts every relationship in this story. Tess still doesn’t trust her mother due to the revelations in the previous book, yet her friendship with Henry and Vivvie is put in jeopardy because of the secrets she’s keeping in the interest of protecting them. And then there’s the rather complicated relationship Tess has with her grandfather. This man could have competed with the Machiavelli family as far as hidden motivations and secret agendas go! All this adds to an already tension-filled plot, with the suspense building to a fever pitch. And once the revelations begin it’s like a stack of dominoes falling. Everytime I thought I had figured everything out, WHAM! Something new and mind-blowing would be revealed!

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Barnes made some pretty gutsy choices regarding character and plot development in this, but never more so than with the ending. It’s not your stereotypical happy ending, and it leaves me wondering where things will go from here in the series. I honestly don’t have a clue because Barnes has proven that absolutely nothing is off the table!

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The Long Game is not a nice relaxing read. It’s a high-octane thriller in every respect. It’s a story that will touch all of your emotions and leave you exhausted at the end. Here’s how I felt when I finished:

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One cautionary note: there’s a lot of violence in this book. It’s never gratuitous and always serves to further the plot, but because of it I wouldn’t recommend this to younger teens. That said, I think it’s a brilliant follow-up to The Fixer and I cannot recommend both books highly enough, especially if you’re a fan of political thrillers!

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