"Book 3 in The Specialists
With two successful missions behind her, GiGi is feeling confident and comfortable with the Specialists. Unfortunately, things are about to change. TL has informed her that a notorious chemical smuggler was personally responsible for the death of both her mother and father. The government has been trying to track him down for years, to no avail. Enter the Specialists, and this time, GiGi’s in charge of the mission. Only there’s a catch—the success of the mission depends on many things, including Beaker’s chemical expertise. And Beaker is the last person GiGi wants to deal with. When the mission deems it necessary to go to Florida, Beaker is ready. But when her cover has to be a cheerleader at the national cheerleading competition, Goth-girl Beaker is not too pleased. With personality conflicts, mission challenges, and the demanding schedule of the cheerleading competition, it’s difficult for Beaker and GiGi to focus on the task at hand. Can they put all things aside and find the smuggler, or will their window of opportunity be shut forever?"
The Winning Element introduces yet another member of GiGi's team. Well, more like focus on than introduces. But that doesn't matter. Beaker is an expert on chemistry. It is so fun to see the ties with the Leverage team. GiGi and Beaker is Hardison. Wirenut and Cat is Parker. TL and Jonathan is Nate Ford. Most of them are grifters (Sophie). Bruier and Jonathan is Eliot. See, it is all the Leverage team. I, however, prefer the books to the movie. They are a tad bit more descriptive. You see, sometimes I have no idea what Parker, Hardison, even Nate are talking about when they mention some stuff. It is a bit helpful to have a guide.
Beaker is one good chemist. She is an expert with chemistry and even invented a few of her mixtures. She is great with all kinds of things. Mostly, her field is chemistry and being very grumpy all the time. I even envisioned her as a grumpy cat once. Yes, I mean that grumpy cat in that grumpy cat meme. So cute and terrible at the same time. Anyway, Beaker is just one of those characters who are just grumpy and a bit Eliot Spencer-ish. They just need a hug and a bit of love to cheer up!
GiGi, on the other hand, remains bad on missions. She sometimes falls for the most simplest of tricks and lies, which is undeniably painful to my eyes. She is still clumsy, but she is improving. She goes undercover as a cheerleader. Hello? That is one interesting combination. A Bella Swan as a cheerleading. Imagine that girl with no emotion in a cheerleading outfit. (I do mean Stewart, of course. That girl). At least, she becomes a bit more interesting. However, her character remains a bit slow for my liking. This is a thriller, right? Not a freaking chick-lit... Actually, that is a bit of a question, too.
The Winning Element is a fun thriller with teenage ties. Any teenager would love reading this book, with the exception of boys. They never seem to like chick-lit. Well, those who are reading buddies of mine. I guess. Maybe they do like it, but they afraid of coming off girly? Hmm... That is another mystery for another day. GiGi, in this book, now learns about who really killed her parents. And no, it wasn't because of a lack of oxygen. It was because of a nice bullet hole in her daddy's forehead. Isn't that wonderful? Oh, and her mother? No one knows where her body is, which only leads to a bunch of speculation. Is she really dead? Where is she buried? Perhaps, she was that character or really that character? Maybe she got a plastic surgery? She might be that agent? Oh, she might be Nadine!
Yeah, the ideas get crazier and crazier.
Overall, I think The Winning Element is a good summer read. It is best read in some dark space with cool lighting... I'm just kidding. It could be read anywhere. The Winning Element doesn't go dark. Despite the number of deaths or the seriousness in the conflict, Shannon Greenland manages to keep it nice and easy with a touch of romance. Yes, that man is David.
Rating: Three out of Five