Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on 15 October 2019
Genres: Espionage Accounts, Memoir
Buy on Amazon
Synopsis of Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox
You would think Life Undercover by Amaryllis Fox would be all about her fascinating and exciting life in the CIA.
You would imagine that Amaryllis Fox would be a woman James Bond running around, doing spy things and catching bad guys in the CIA.
But this book is not really centred around the CIA, but instead, it concentrates on Amaryllis Fox’s life.
Being a part of the CIA is one part of Amaryllis’s life, but this book is more of a memoir of her fascinating life journey.
We start the book with Amaryllis being tailed by some Pakistani intelligence officer. But that doesn’t concern Amaryllis Fox.
Amaryllis says that she is just scouting the area for a potential nuclear bomb denotation. So she is going to bore the intelligence officer to death before checking out her objective.
This somewhat exciting prologue ends with Amaryllis staring dead straight into the eyes of the Pakistani intelligence officer with a horse-shaped face.
The book then jumps back into time to Amaryllis Fox’s childhood before rushing forward to her exploits in Burma/Myanmar as well as the CIA.
As the book blurb reads: Amaryllis Fox’s riveting memoir tells the story of her ten years in the CIA, hunting the worl’ds most dangerous terrorists in sixteen countries while marrying and giving birth to a daughter.
Life Undercover is less a spy-thriller about the CIA and more a life memoir about Amaryllis Fox’s extraordinary life. But this doesn’t lessen the value of this book by one iota.
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What I thought of Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox
Overall Life Undercover was an emotional roller coaster with some thrills of being a spy and catching the terrorists.
The first 25 per cent of the book was a bit slow but after that it picked up and I fell into the story hard.
The story is less a spy thriller and more a personal memoir which Amaryllis Fox wrote about her up and down rollercoaster life. Some parts are about the CIA but the book is more about Amaryllis’s personal reflections and how her work and love life has affected her life story arc.
But that was okay with me. I was more interested in the life that Amaryllis Fox lead and the choices in her life and how that affected her life journey.
The first 25 per cent was a little boring because, after the initial prologue with a little action, the book fell back into Amaryllis Fox’s childhood.
I really feel that those early parts of the book should have been cut out to make the start more interesting. I mean I would expect people to read the book to read more about the CIA and less about some childhood talk.
What I liked about Amaryllis Fox’s Life Undercover:
I don’t mind if they were made up or based on simple truths, but some parts of the book really made me go ‘wow’ in terms of what Amaryllis Fox got involved in – even before she joined the CIA.
Amaryllis Fox’s writing was a bit boring at the start but once you understood her theme of ‘being true to yourself’ and the ‘deceptions being layered upon deceptions’ and how that affected her psychological state then the narrative in Life Undercover gets a lot more interesting.
Amaryllis’s personal story provided a strong personal purpose that resonated strongly across the narrative. It felt like a real psychological narrative where her story arc went across some downs and ups.
Amaryllis’s way with words made me fall into her narrative around the quarter mark and was a great narrative to escape the mundane lockdown I found myself in.
The personal eyes of Amaryllis really revealed a lot about herself as a character, and there was a lot of real-life depth to keep me entertained in seeing where her story arc of life headed.
It really was as if she looked into what a character arc is, and based her own personal memoir on that character arc. That meant downs and ups, as well a real personal choice to make at the end to reveal what kind of character you are.
What I didn’t like about Life Undercover by Amaryllis Fox
The prologue in Amaryllis Fox’s Life Undercover didn’t provide the curiosity or interesting cliffhanger which it was supposed to.
The beginning with her being trailed by a Pakistani agent didn’t provide enough thrill or challenge.
Walking into this book I thought this book was going to be a real spy thriller with an ultimate prologue like Dan Brown’s murders and such at the start. However, it did not.
After the prologue in Life Undercover, going all the way back to when she was young made the bottom fall out of the excitement that should be there at the start of the book. I didn’t want to be skimming past her childhood because it has nothing to do with the CIA. I wanted to be hooked on every part of the book.
In reality, I think they should change the subtitle of the book because it really sets up some wrong expectations for the audience. Or perhaps change the genre of the book in Amazon, since most of the books it comes up with are spy thrillers.
I feel like the memoir shouldn’t have started when she was so young as a child but perhaps started when she finished high school to keep the start of the book more interesting. Flashbacks back to her younger past could have appeared later in order to fatten her themes out later in the story.
Who would I recommend Life Undercover by Amaryllis Fox to?
I would recommend Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA to someone who wants to read more about the way a life can twist and turn, rather than someone who wants a crime or spy thriller.
Amaryllis Fox’s life is really interesting but the book was not written as a crime or spy thriller as most have seemed to expect from this book.
Instead, I really recommend Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA to people who want to read about an interesting life. Amaryllis Fox has had some really strong convictions throughout her life which has made her choose some difficult paths.
Not only that, but Amaryllis speaks about her marriages and her daughter’s birth throughout her time in the CIA. This situation really brings out the truth in Amaryllis heart, and I feel this book has a really strong message to give to its readers.
5 stars of out 5.
I really do think Life Undercover by Amaryllis Fox is awe-inspiring and provides a warm, fuzzy feeling to those who read it.
Just walk in knowing it is a life memoir, not a crazy spy thriller full of murders and secrets.
What’s Next to Read?
I am nearing the end of reading “What’s left of me is Yours: A Novel” by Stephanie Scott.
I reached the halfway of the book and I was so close to DNF. The novel just seemed to be dragging on and dragging on with irrelevant and wavy scenes. I just wanted the book to get to the climax already instead of going around windy paths with scenes that has no purpose.
I will let my final thoughts of the book in the next or the next, next post!
(P.S. Got any other books you want me to review? Then…)