Or it would be, shortly.
In ten minutes, more or less
Rose wished it would be less.
Less would be, Christ, less would be amazing.
Mostly because Rose was ready to get this thing started, but also because she was sitting quiet on forty well-trained and slightly antsy mercs in full combat gear who were also ready. Ready to storm out of their unmarked gray vans, their fake delivery trucks, their ATM vestibules, ready to invade and then take over this plain, unremarkable office building, ready to force their way a mile belowground and into the heart of the Regional Office and wage their full assault on it. Then, soon after that, if all went according to plan, ready to level the place, make the whole thing shudder to the ground.
And that is how this action-packed novel from Manuel Gonzales begins. The Regional Office Is Under Attack! is pure girl power, one in which the girls and women of the story kick some major ass.
It’s a little hard to describe Mr. Gonzales’ writing style, but I’ll try. For one, his sentences are long, some basically a paragraph long. But his words aren’t just filler, they tell a dynamic story that had me turning pages faster and faster because I HAD to know what was going to happen. How did Rose get her super strength? Does Sarah have a mechanical arm? Who is Mr. Niles? And what exactly is the Regional Office? Most of my questions were answered, but frustratingly, some were not. But that didn’t stop me from reading the novel so quickly I almost missed my train stop more than once while commuting to and from work.
The novel begins with the Regional Office, an organization that fights mystical forces of evil, under attack. Rose, a teenager with an attitude and unbelievable strength, is leading the charge. She’s ready, but still has doubts, because she’s a teenager. Sarah, a little older, may or may not have a mechanical arm, but is a loyal member of the Regional Office and will protect it at all costs. She has a special bond with Mr. Niles (the security director who, along with his partner Oyemi, started the Regional Office), and wants, no needs, to make him proud. Aside from Rose and Sarah, readers are introduced to Henry, the Head of Recruitment of the Regional Office’s Operatives, young women who have mystical powers of their own and fight the good fight for the RO.
Mr. Gonzales uses his talents to weave readers through the attack itself while giving us some back history about the Regional Office, and about Rose and Sarah specifically. Rose’s voice is very strong, as the author captures what it means to be a teenager in a town, and a life, she hates. She’s got a potty mouth on her, but it fits and doesn’t seem over the top. Sarah is the opposite of Rose but her voice is just as strong. A childhood trauma changes her life but not in a way you would think. Mr. Gonzales does a fantastic job of showing rather than telling readers what the two characters are feeling pre- and post-Regional Office and during the attack.
One of the best things about this novel is the lack of physical description of the characters, aside from tall, beautiful, etc. Withholding physical attributes from the novel leaves so much to the imagination for readers of The Regional Office Is Under Attack!, giving them a chance to turn the characters into ones that look just like them. Should this novel ever become a film (and it definitely should), Hollywood could truly use it to create a diverse cast of strong young women that represent the real world we live in.
I think the biggest issue I had with this novel is the many questions I still have about some of the characters mentioned. How was Jasmine recruited? Where did Emma come from? Who is Gemini and what happened to her? Who was Harold Raines? I have so many questions, but I have a feeling that that is exactly what Mr. Gonzales was aiming for. I truly hope there’s another book coming about this mysterious organization and its Operatives. Because if not, I may have to plan my own attack to make it happen.
Head over to your local bookstore or public library and pick up this great book. Just make sure you pay attention to your train stop while reading. The Regional Office Is Under Attack! will definitely make you miss it.