BOOK REPORT for Latitude Zero by Diana Renn

Cover Story: Hub Focus

BFF Charm: Meh

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

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Talky Talk: Shop Talk

Bonus Factor: Cycling

Anti-Bonus Factor: Mary Sue

Relationship Status: Dropped

Latitude Zero

Cover Story: Hub Focus

As a person who has occasional issues with large crowds, the number of people in the background of this cover makes me a little uncomfortable. I’m glad the cover designer chose to focus more on the bike spokes/hub than the crowd in the background. I like the fact that it’s not entirely recognizable as a bike wheel, but the vector illustration over the photograph doesn’t quite feel cohesive.

The Deal:

Although she wasn’t fully sold on the idea, Tessa went with Jake on the bandit ride—riding bikes in a charity race without signing up or raising funds—in order to spend time with him. Ever since he’d been kicked off the Team EcuaBar cycling team on suspicion of using drugs to improve his performance (à la Lance Armstrong), Jake had been distracted and moody. Tessa wanted to show him support, even if that meant breaking rules she otherwise never would.

When she causes a crash because of her lack of skills, however, Tessa is found out. And when a young cyclist with a promising future dies because of injuries sustained when he crashed in the race, Tessa fears that her one little transgression has had massive consequences. These fears grow when she receives an unknown text that reads:

YOU MADE A BAD, BAD MOVE.

AND I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

BFF Charm: Meh

There are good girls…and then there’s Tessa Taylor. She’s a top student, liked by everyone she meets, and is the host of a well-liked children’s TV show. Until she decides to go on the ride with her “bad boy” boyfriend, Jake, she probably never got in trouble for anything more than occasionally staying out too late with her friends. Although I am happy to own up to the fact that I was a similar goody two-shoes in high school, I did have some unique personality traits. Tessa’s personality falls a little flat.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Tessa has not one, not two, but three different guys interested in her throughout Latitude Zero’s 430 pages. None of them, sadly, are all that interesting or swoon-causing. Jake, in particular, is described as a bad boy type, but he’s pretty much just a self-centered jerk. The other guys seem to have fallen or immediately fall prey to Tessa’ perfect persona, and that makes them wholly unappealing in my eyes.

Talky Talk: Shop Talk

There are a lot of cycling terms in Latitude Zero, and that stems both from the fact that the book is about cycling, and the fact that Diana Renn is an avid cyclist. From the little I know about the sport, the terms are accurate, but if someone wasn’t so familiar with them, the plot might seem jargony, and not in a good way.

In addition, the suspenseful nature of the underlying story is rushed. Tessa is an aspiring investigative journalist, and she leaps to conclusions constantly—something I know, from my college journalism classes, is something you’re not supposed to do. She also keeps a whole lot of secrets, out of fear of retaliation from the sketchy people behind the mysterious text, but I never felt as scared as she did, which dampened the thrill. The baddies were more comical than frightening.

Bonus Factor: Cycling

My husband and many of our friends are avid cyclists—a group of them rode more than 100 miles over the weekend—so I am constantly surrounded by road bikes, bike parts, bike terminology, bike stats, bike gear, bike talk, etc. I have a bike, but I don’t ride often—but when this book came up as a possibility for review, I knew I couldn’t turn it down.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Mary Sue

Tessa is a total Mary Sue. She’s perfect and pretty and everyone loves her. She’s smart and engaging and can solve a conspiracy that spans continents with nothing more than her wits and the help of a couple of sidekicks. I couldn’t help by roll my eyes a little.

Casting Call:

Candice Accola as Tessa

Daniel Romer as Jake

Relationship Status: Dropped

I thought we’d have more in common, Book. You’re about things I’m familiar with, by proxy, and your promise of an exciting story to share had me looking forward to our date. About halfway through the night, however, I realized that your story felt a little less like it had happened to you, and more like something you might have read about online or seen on TV. Although it was an interesting tale, I wanted more authenticity.

Latitude Zero is available now.

Mandy lives in Austin, TX, where she's an editor/writer for an educational non-profit by day and a pop culture junkie by night. When she's not ensconced in a book for Forever Young Adult, Mandy can be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.