Girl Soldier by T. R. Horne is a page-turning action and adventure novel with heart.
Rain Wilson grew up in a small Colorado farming town. Her mother left ten years ago, but Rain never stopped loving her. When Rain learns that her mother is missing, she realizes that she doesn’t know everything about her father and mother. The young woman sets out to find her mother. Can Rain handle the truth, lies, and the forces who don’t want her mother found?
The prologue of Girl Soldier makes a few things clear. Rain is compassionate and respects life. Yet, she’s also deadly with a weapon. These statements may contradict each other, but the reason her father taught her to respect life and how to shoot a weapon quickly becomes apparent. Her father understands better than most what it means to take a life, including a human one.
When Rain sets off to rescue her mother she isn’t the typical daughter. And her parents aren’t typical parents. The mystery surrounding Rain and her parents is just one of the mysteries the reader uncovers. This thriller is like an onion. The reader uncovers one layer of intrigue to find another layer. Sometimes spy novels can become so convoluted with several nefarious forces directing the action making it nearly impossible to keep track of who everyone is and what they want. Girl Soldier avoids this trap.
There are plenty of plot twists that will surprise the reader, but they don’t come out of nowhere. The author has taken the time to plot out each step, keeping the reader in mind. The action happens fast and the suspense builds quickly, but it’s never confusing where one plot thread stops and the next picks up.
Part of the reason for the novel’s success is the quality of the prose. Horne’s descriptions draw the reader into the pages. The first sentence demonstrates the author’s ability to create atmospheric details:
The dusty orange sky pierced through the sequoia trees, spreading light along the mossy green edges of the grass, highlighting the shiny beetles that scattered away from her footsteps and hid inside hollowed logs.
The other main reason for the novel’s success is the author’s focus on family. Even though this novel is a spy novel, Horne never loses sight of Rain’s purpose: she wants to find her mother. There’s plenty of action and some uncomfortable torture scenes, but the concept of family and friends stays front and center. It’s refreshing to have the focal point of an international espionage novel to contain a wholesome message amidst the destruction, deception, and chaos.
Fans of high-octane action novels will enjoy the twists and turns of Girl Soldier. While there are plenty of heart-pumping scenes to keep diehard fans of thrillers engaged in the story, this is also a heartfelt novel. Rain isn’t unlike many teens, even if she has an unusual life. It’s her humanness that makes her a memorable character and transforms this novel into more than a spy thriller.