Jump into an adventure like no other with Harrison, the daydreaming son of American diplomats, and Prudence, the fearless daughter of foreign correspondents, as they embark on a thrilling mission to find a lost Beatles record in Cold War Moscow.
Pursued by spies and gangsters, Harrison and Prudence must rely on their wits and courage to navigate the dark underworld of a communist state. As they race to find a priceless relic and symbol of freedom in a place where rock is banned, they will risk everything — and discover a web of secrets that leads to the most dangerous game of all.
Chock full of suspense and propelled by a grand tale of unrequited love, Back in the USSR will keep you on the edge of your seat right up to the emotional, uplifting ending.
If you enjoyed Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, or Ruta Sepetys's I Must Betray You, you'll love Back in the USSR.
Plot/Idea: Back in the USSR is a YA thriller infused with mystery and tension. Readers will be easily sucked into Harrison’s life while on Christmas break visiting his diplomat parents based in Moscow during the Cold War. Joyce displays masterful control over the narrative, beautifully weaving in a thread connected to the Beatles' White Album.
Prose: Joyce capably evokes a noir atmosphere, while bringing the Moscow setting vividly to life. The prose is clear, sharp, and expertly paced.
Originality: The story of a diplomat’s son could have taken a very familiar turn, but this novel remains fresh, poised, and multilayered from beginning to end.
Character/Execution: The author fills the story with interesting, complex characters. Fourteen-year-old Harrison George, the son of diplomats, is mature and independent, yet relatable. His friend Prudence is a spunky and lively girl who serves as a sidekick but a full character in her own right. Character development fluidly blends with a riveting storyline, never disappointing readers.
Date Submitted: April 04, 2023