Diagnosed as a psychopath as a child and trained as an assassin at a secret CIA institute, Emma Garthright is not like other teens. But now Emma is faced with the one mission she isn't prepared for—making friends at an ordinary high school.
Sixteen-year-old Emma has spent most of her life at the remote Early Institute, a boarding school operating under the guise of helping children like Emma become better people. But the Early Institute's altruistic façade hides a darker motive—to turn its students into the deadliest teenage assassins the world has ever seen.
Taught to kill without question, Emma is tasked by her demanding headmaster with going undercover at Grover Cleveland High School. There, she must do the seemingly impossible—truly become a better person in order to win the trust and friendship of Grover Cleveland's most virtuous student, Susie Robinson. Susie is a straight-A teacher's pet, naturally suspicious of the manipulative and deceitful Emma, and the one person standing between the success or failure of Emma's mission to assassinate an international political figure. But is Emma really capable of changing? And why does Brayden seem more interested in her than in Susie?
As the deadly teen's newfound freedom and friendships start to get in the way of her mission, and the sinister truth behind the Early Institute begins to come to light, can Emma use her wits and lethal skills to save her friendship with Susie while keeping them both alive?
Dan Birk writes young adult and fantasy novels from his home in Chicago, where he lives with his family. Dan taught English at public high schools in Brooklyn, New York and Vienna, Austria before selling out and becoming a lawyer.
"This is an exciting, plot-driven thriller for young adults, but it's equally a character-driven examination of the inner world of a quintessential cool girl who can't feel things intensely, but who's intelligent and motivated to learn morality and functionally appreciate empathy. Written in the first person from Emma's perspective, the narration's emotional detachment is nuanced with charmingly sharp observations and shrewd self-awareness ... This makes Emma a likable character, and eerily trustworthy for someone who, in another book, might be an unreliable narrator. The secondary characters, particularly the friends Emma makes at her new school, have depth, conveyed through Emma's attention to detail. The story's action sequences are seamless a seamless and vivid, and the overall plot is surprisingly convincing. An engaging novel with a consistently smart, funny, and self-reflective narrator." - Kirkus Reviews
"Twisty, action-packed and fun to read ... Emma is a bluntly humorous narrator, think of a young Deadpool ... [or] a young Villanelle." - LoveReading
"Step into a world of secrecy, danger, and deception with this thrilling new novel ... With unexpected twists and turns at every corner, this heart-pounding novel will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. Dan Birk has provided a captivating tale of assassination, betrayal, and the resilience of the human spirit. All of these elements combined make for an unforgettable book. With each page, Birk paints a vivid picture of the character's struggles, their triumphs, and the sacrifices they must make to survive." - Midwest Book Review
"Five stars." - Readers' Favorite