Set in Shanghai and Seattle, Calculated is a gritty, modern day blend of The Count of Monte Cristo and Mission Impossible.
She has many names – Octavia, Double 8, Phoenix, Josephine. She’s a math prodigy, a calculating genius and everyone wants her.
In seventeen-year-old Jo River’s complicated world of numbers, there’s no such thing as coincidence. When she is betrayed by someone she loves, kidnapped by the world’s most wanted smuggler, and forced to use her talent to shore up a criminal empire, Jo deems her gift a curse—until she meets Red.
Fellow captive and unlikely sage, Red teaches Jo to harness her true potential, so she can do more than just escape. Before he dies, Red reveals a secret about her enemies and makes her vow to right his wrongs. But Jo has a vow of her own. With help from Chan, a bitter billionaire, and Kai, his off-limits son, Jo rises into a new role, ready to take down those who ruined her life. Until a mathematical error comes back to haunt her with a threat much more dangerous than the criminals on the loose.
To beat the odds, Jo must decide who she really is and if risking everything is worth it.
After all, history is not made—it’s calculated.
With themes of revenge and forgiveness, loss and identity, brainpower versus brutality, and the triumph of right over might, it will resonate with readers everywhere.
I haven’t read The Count of Monte Cristo, but I sure loved the movie. When I saw it was a comp title for this book, I couldn’t pass it up.
The first several chapters alternate between past and present. Jo in the past is portrayed as an excited prodigy eager to begin her first job in China. Present Jo is a jaded, bitter young woman who is imprisoned, forced to use her gift for illegal activities, and was betrayed by her family. I couldn’t wait to see what she’d experienced to alter her life so completely. It soon becomes obvious she’s not only incredibly intelligent and determined, but is also a survivor.
Because of her gift, Jo bases everything on numbers – they don’t lie and they make sense to her. But she soon learns there’s more to life than numbers and ideas that aren’t as concrete such as forgiveness, love, and finding your purpose. How perhaps there are no coincidences and fate puts you exactly where you’re needed and can make a difference in the world. Revenge isn’t everything.
With the setting in Shanghai, I felt as if I got to experience a bit of the city and Chinese culture while reading this book. I also appreciated how the author didn’t try to dumb-down any of the complex financial and mathematical details even though I might not have understood them. The plot is incredibly intricate, full of action, and well-paced. The last several chapters are like watching perfectly placed dominoes topple one after the other. Some plot points may have fallen into place a bit too easily, but I still enjoyed this book and was pleasantly surprised to learn there will be a sequel. I’ll absolutely be adding it to my list.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.