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Frenemy of the State #1 – Review

What if Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan worked for the C.I.A.? That is basically what Frenemy of the State is about, but don't be so quick to write it off. The idea is simple and brilliant. The face that Hollywood or some other entertainment faucet has come up with this idea just proves its brilliance.

Ariana Von Holmberg is the daughter of Actress Katherine Walsh and Count Stefan Von Holmberg. She's American royalty and famous for being famous. She's also incredibly smart and physically fit. She's attending an unbirthday party for one of her friends or frenemy, with ulterior motives. She needs to break into the host's safe and steel a flash drive for the C.I.A. Ariana didn't always work for the government. Once she was just like the other celebs drinking, partying, and not wearing underwear. Then her boyfriend cheated on her. The catch is that her boyfriend's dad is a Senator and she broke into his home to catch the cheater.

Agent Byrne makes Ariana an offer: Join the C.I.A. or go to prison. She makes the obvious choice. See... Ariana is very smart. She can hack into computers, she fences, and she knows the stock market, but refuses to apply herself to anything that's not a challenge. Mixed with her fame, her personality matches what the C.I.A. is looking for in a field agent. So back to the party, where she easily cracks the safe and takes a flash drive. Something else Ariana has is a problem with authority, and that's when she's discovered watching the contents of the drive.                                                                                                                                                               https://www.entertainmentfuse.com/images/Frenemy of the State 1.jpg

The writing on the book is pretty clever and clean. The writers, Rashida Jones, Christina Weir (Checkmate) and Nunzio DeFilippis (Checkmate) tell a strong narrative that captures a snap shot of our society. They don't attempt to pass judgment on celebrities and keep their commentary to a minimum. Ariana is strong and interesting character that never comes off annoying or unbelievable. Her dialog is witty, especially when she corrects the Unbirthday Girl about her misconceptions of Alice in Wonderland. There is a fake Twitter from a fake celeb site to begin the book which honestly wasn't the best way to introduce the reader to the world. It was very off putting reading "text talk" and trying to figure out what was happening.

The art has a unique and "indie" style to it. Jeff Wamester (Myspace Dark Horse Presents) mixes gun-play and espionage with TMZ to form a perfect hybrid. Ariana is beautiful and has a powerful presence. The celebs are as shallow and plastic looking as the personalities. Jeff's style tends to struggle with several characters on the page and a lot of the locations are hallow and lifeless. Ariana's apartment is large and empty, which isn't very fitting of her personality. The biggest deterrent in the art is the fact that all of the body guards at the party look exactly the same. Even with the negatives the art is still very beautiful and fits the story perfectly.

Oni Press has a great little book on its hands with a lot of potential. It's not perfect, but with some fine tuning there's a ton of story/adaptation potential. With the pop culture references this book may be cutting its shelf life short, but it's so good at capturing a chunk of American culture that it can't be ignored. Thankfully, it's not actually Paris Hilton working for the C.I.A. that would be scary.

Actually I think Lohan is a C.I.A. agent, otherwise she'd be dead by now. Follow Dustin not following Lohan on Twitter and ask him anything non-Lohan on FormSpring.



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