By Claire Berlinski
What caught me about this book was its rather charmingly unconventional premise: Selena Keller, a disenchanted academic of Sanskrit literature, decides on a whim to join the Agency. This and the portrayal of an unlikely yet endearing romance between the jaded young protagonist and the consummate nerdy chubby guy can be construed as yours truly succumbing to new-wave chick lit. But the satirical insider-esque account of life in a CIA training camp puts this short novel in an unique genre of its own.
You get a really good idea of the kind of people who’d enlist in the CIA, who’d willingly undergo the rigorous screening and subsequent training at “the Farm”, and then keep a good chunk of their lives classified from family and friends. What’s more, the petty rivalries, unexpected betrayals and social paranoia amongst the cloistered Intelligence trainees provide a dark undercurrent of substance to this otherwise enjoyable and light-hearted read.