The Innocent Assassins: Review

innocent assassins

Author: Pema Donya

Publisher: Astraea Press

Genre: Young Adult Spy Thriller

Summary: There are three rules to staying an assassin at the corporation of Covert Operatives: (1) your parents must be deceased, (2) your contracts must remain confidential, and (3) you must be under the age of eighteen.

After a murder mission goes awry a month before her eighteenth birthday, Covert Operatives assassin Jane Lu finds herself caught by the federal government and forced to spy for the CIA while remaining in Covert Operatives. Once her spying mission is over she will be allowed to live a civilian life without facing criminal consequences, a life she’s only dreamed of having.

As Jane leaks information to the CIA, she uncovers secrets with enough power to both destroy Covert Operatives and her own boyfriend, Adrian King, who’s next in line to be CEO of the company. When her identity as a double agent for the CIA is discovered within Covert Operatives, she must decide where her allegiance, and her heart, truly lies. (Via Goodreads.)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


I was really excited when I was asked to review The Innocent Assassins. It felt very serendipitous to me as the morning before I received the email I was thinking about how much I wanted to read a spy thriller and then boom there it was waiting in my inbox. It felt like fate had conspired to give me exactly what I wanted but sadly I was disappointed.

While the plot of the novel was interesting, very Alias-esque, a young girl discovers that the agency she works for has been lying to her and she decides to work for the CIA to bring them down and finally earn her freedom, but the execution was flawed. There were a lot of things that I just couldn’t overlook. The relationship between Jane and Adrian for example, should have been interesting, should have been exciting and engrossing but it just felt tired. It was a lot of fight, break up, get back together, repeat. This relationship was the crux of the novel, it was the most important aspect and it didn’t capture me at all. I didn’t buy into it. I didn’t think it was realistic and when that failed everything else sort of collapsed for me.

The characters too weren’t great. At times, yes I was fascinated by them and even found them to be quite enjoyable and interesting but these moment were few and far between. The main issue for me was Tristan. Tristan is Jane’s CIA handler/informant and he is completely unnecessary. He is only there to create drama and it’s not even good drama. He has a really unnecessary side-plot that doesn’t go anywhere and it was just dull and I question why he was included.

In addition to that I just didn’t find this book realistic and there were a few continuity problems that just baffled me, for instance Jane wasn’t supposed to know that Covert Operatives was killing innocent people but towards the end of the book she knows why people are being killed, she knows she’s getting sent to kill someone for having an affair and she doesn’t bat an eyelid and it just didn’t jar with me.

Donya set up her world and for this most part she did a good job but I just didn’t believe it. I didn’t think the C.I.A. would be so cavalier about murdering innocent people, I didn’t think they would give their secret agents USB’s with C.I.A. stamped on the side and then drop them outside evil head quarters. I just didn’t believe it.

There were some parts of the book I enjoyed. Donya does have potential as a writer, there were a few moments when I was just like, “Yes, it’s happening, we’re getting somewhere!” but they never materialised beyond those brief moments.

Overall, I was disappointed by the Innocent Assassins. There were a few parts I did enjoy, but they were ultimately overshadowed by the all the problems I encountered.

2 Stars.

About the Author:

pdPema Donyo is a coffee-fueled college student by day and a creative writer by night. She currently lives in sunny Southern California, where any temperature less than 70 degrees is freezing and flip-flops never go out of season. As a rising sophomore at Claremont McKenna, she’s still working on mastering that delicate balance between finishing homework, meeting publisher deadlines, and… college. 

Pema’s debut novel, The Innocent Assassins, is a thriller/romantic suspense published by Astraea Press. Her second novel One Last Letter is a western historical romance published by Crimson Romance.


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