The Diplomats' Daughter is a novella by Alyse Zaftig and Eva Wilder. It tells the story of Zola who is the daughter of a pair of Foreign Service Officers. They are at a special function when she meets Fa and Kyle, a set of twins. They talk to each other and find some common ground. Though, when there's a bombing, she needs help escaping the building and that's where the twins come to be really handy; they take her to their home and protect her.
I'll begin by talking about some of the characters and how they affect the book. For starters, Zola's internal narration is a bit odd. She makes comments, but then she nullifies them other points. For example, she often makes comments about being a BBW (big, beautiful woman), a curvy girl and heavy. Yet, when she's discussing crowded streets, she makes another comment saying that she's petite. Soon after, she discusses the children of other diplomats, that they're bratty. Yet, from her overall personality during these scenes, she gives me the same impression; that she is also kind of bratty. Her personality improves throughout the book and she turns out to have a half-decent thought process, but she continually makes poor choices throughout the book. Though, in some cases, I don't think those choices are necessarily her fault; many of the things she does throughout the book are things she's been convinced to do by the twins. Fa and Kyle are also at this dinner because of their parents. Their parents are fairly rich and the twins are considering studying in America. They talk with Zola about travelling and their futures. In a way, I think it's kind of sweet that they've all experienced so many cultures and been affected by so much travel. On the other hand, the majority of these portions were really dull for me; to be blunt, I just didn't really care about any of it.
I think that the meeting and later relationship between Zola and the twins felt really forced and insincere. Especially in the beginning, it just seemed like the authors were trying to make all of the characters seem older and more intelligent than they really are. They talk a lot about what they've experienced and, at many points, make comments that show them looking down on other cultures (such as the food or people in America, as well as other places). To me, that just seemed kind of like unfortunate writing; that the authors felt the need to put down other cultures just to further the characters. Overall, I think the three of them were kind of pretentious and a little bit unlikeable. To go back to the start of this paragraph, as I mentioned, I feel like the relationship between the trio is forced. It just seems like Zola only ends up hanging out with them at the party because she considers the other diplomatic kids to be bratty (she kind of thinks she's better than the others). Then, for what seems like no reason at all, she ends up running away from the party (admittedly, it's just after the bombing) and to their home. She could have stayed with her parents and any security at the party and she would have been reasonably well protected. It just seems like she had no reason to go to the twins' home and that their entire relationship was kind of unfounded.
Moving on to talk about the plot, I think that the events could have used a lot more work. The main thing going on in the description of the book is that there's some sort of bombing and the twins help her escape. Yet, in the actual book, that event turns out to be kind of lame. There are a few explosions and the twins take her outside, shove her in a car and take her to their house. She ends up conversing with them more about their history and it was completely anti-climactic. In fact, I think that's main thing that bothers me about the book; the conversations between Zola and the twins; they're just so long and drawn out. I understand that the intention is to give them a little bit more history, but the authors completely overdo it and it really detracts from the actual plot. Not much of the book is actually about the attack; the bombing was essentially some sort of poor (and unreasonable) set-up to get her to go home with the twins so they could talk more. The same with the later bullet wound; nobody really seems to care that there have been two very serious attacks within the past 24 hours. She shows little emotion towards the scary events that have happened and has impractical actions as well; she leaves with the twins and goes home with them, despite having only met them that evening. The other thing that bothers me is that she expresses little concern for her family's welfare and, when making contact with her mother, she expresses an uncertainty of returning home. It seems like she trusts two strangers she only met less than twenty four hours prior more than her own mother.
The bombing and gunshot incident were completely ridiculous and didn't fit in with the book at all. I know that the bombing was the main event, but it just seemed so useless; after going home with the twins, Zola doesn't seem to care about it. In fact, none of them seem concerned about who had done it or why it happened. Even after Zola goes home, we still don't get a proper explanation as to what had happened. The same with the gunshot; we never really found out who had shot him or why. It's just absurd; these are very serious events and none of the trio seems to care. Another point that's gotten me thinking is that several times, the twins mention that dragons hoard gold. That's sort of the explanation as to why they're so rich. Yet, they use these comments as some sort of justification as to why they're spending so much money on her. Yet, they're essentially giving their freely giving money away to someone they'd only met a day before... They don't even care about how much money they're spending on her... So it's not really hoarding... Moving on with the fantastical aspects of the book, I think that the book could have gone without the supernatural portions; the dragon shifting just seemed gratuitous and an unimportant part of the book.
Overall, the story had an interesting premise. However, the authors focused too much on trying to develop the characters, rather than moving on with the actual plot. The main plot (the bombing) went by too quickly and with little explanation, yet the authors spent pages detailing the history of the main characters. The dragon shifting portions were kind of disappointing because they didn't play an important role in the book either. The characters aren't very likeable. It wasn't a brilliant book, but I think it was reasonable considering how bad it could have been; the authors were just a little misguided. I reckon that three stars is a reasonable rating and I certainly would consider reading any future instalments if the authors were to continue it.
I received a free copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.