As mentioned in one of my recent posts, I was able to use my free weekend to finish The Shadow Mission by Shamim Sarif. This is book #2 in the Athena Protocol series. I read The Athena Protocol last year and I loved it. I had high hopes for the sequel. The Shadow Mission was another fast-paced outing, however, there was one scene in particular that didn’t sit right with me. I do discuss this scene in quite detail and I have attached a content warning as well.
After Athena’s mission in Belgrade, Jessie Archer is debriefed for her next mission. The Athena team is tasked to take on a far-right group known as Family First who feel women shouldn’t be educated and belong in the home. After a terrorist attack at an all-girls school, Jessie is thrown into the investigation and connects with Riya, a detective who is also investigating the bombing. Together, they uncover another terrorist plot on a different all-girls boarding school, can they stop it in time?
Originally when reading The Athena Protocol, I wasn’t a big fan of Jessie. However, I felt Jessie has grown quite a bit since the first book. She seemed more calm and collected. She was more aware of the consequences of her actions. I found myself growing attached to her story and why she is the way she is. Caitlin and Hala, Jessie’s fellow Athena agents, were still as intriguing as ever.
While Jessie grew on me as a character, I found a certain scene in this book that made me uneasy.
CW: Outing of an LBGTQIA+ character *read at your own risk*
There’s a scene where Jessie and Hala follow this politician who they think has affiliations with Family First. As they approach, they recognize that this politician is having an affair with a man. To gain intelligence, Jessie blackmails the politician into helping them and threatening to release photographs to the media. Jessie isn’t straight, so I’m surprised Jessie doesn’t see this as being hypocritical. Additionally, this scene takes place in India which in some ways isn’t as progressive as other countries on LGBTQIA+ rights. This politician isn’t a good person, however, this crossed the line for me. I felt this scene left me with an icky taste in my mouth. I wish Sarif didn’t write this scene in the book to begin with.
With this being said, I did enjoy reading The Shadow Mission. When I wrote my original review on Goodreads, I ended up only rating this four stars. With the scene I discussed above, it felt out of place enough for me not to give this a full five star rating. Overall, I’m still excited that this series exists and I can’t wait for book #3