Dear Ms. Kenner:
I started becoming a Julie Kenner fan with the The Givenchy Code whose title was not only a clever play on the blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code, but also a creative take on the chick lit oeuvre: a heroine who loved shoes and code breaking. In The Prada Paradox, the last in the “Play Survive Win” trilogy, we have a heroine who loves to shop but lacks some skills in the code breaking area.
Devi Taylor is movie star trying to make a comeback by playing Mel in the big screen adaption of Mel’s real life trauma told in The Givenchy Code. The “Play Survive Win” game was an online Role Playing Game where players were assigned to be the Assassin, the Target, or the Protector. In order to “win”, you either lived or killed in the game depending on your role.
The problem is that Taylor’s love interest on screen used to be her love interest off the screen until a Letterman appearance gone bad. Blake Atwood is a new leading man in Hollywood, thanks to Devi. He does her no favors, however, when their highly publicized romance ends in a very public way. Devi and Blake become emeshed in a real life version of “Play Survive Win” and must solve Hollywood based clues in order to find the antitode and come out alive.
While this entry in the “PSW” trilogy had trademark zippiness to the writing and the clues were clever, it took a bit too long to start the action. I wasn’t even sure that it was going to have any PSW in it until about a third of the way into the story. The major problems in this book is the obviousness of the villian and the overlooking of at least one major clue which made it convenient for the villian to keep tabs on the good guys.
Because the villian is so readily identified and the clue was overlooked, it makes it hard for me to believe that the characters were smart enough to prevail and survive. Devi and Blake were a sweet pairing and the romance made up for the lack of a believable suspense game. The Prada Paradox was not the best in the series but still a fast read. B-