League of American Traitors by Matthew Landis

League of American Traitors by Matthew Landis

National Treasure meets Hamilton in a breathless history-based thriller from an outstanding new voice.

Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. . . .

When seventeen year-old Jasper is approached at the funeral of his deadbeat father by a man claiming to be an associate of his deceased parents, he’s thrust into a world of secrets tied to America’s history—and he’s right at the heart of it.

First, Jasper finds out he is the sole surviving descendant of Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor in American history. Then he learns that his father’s death was no accident. Jasper is at the center of a war that has been going on for centuries, in which the descendants of the heroes and traitors of the American Revolution still duel to the death for the sake of their honor.

His only hope to escape his dangerous fate on his eighteenth birthday? Take up the research his father was pursuing at the time of his death, to clear Arnold’s name.

Whisked off to a boarding school populated by other descendants of notorious American traitors, it’s a race to discover the truth. But if Jasper doesn’t find a way to uncover the evidence his father was hunting for, he may end up paying for the sins of his forefathers with his own life.

Like a mash-up of National Treasure and Hamilton, Matthew Landis’s debut spins the what-ifs of American history into a heart-pounding thriller steeped in conspiracy, clue hunting, and danger.

Oh, how I wanted to love League of American Traitors.  It had such a promising premise but the execution just didn’t work for me.  While it’s a quick read that definitely has it’s fun moments, there just didn’t anything that makes it stand out among the many other young adult novels available these days.

From the very beginning of the book, I had issues with the plot.  Everything was just so unbelievable.  I’m sure there are many descendants of American heroes and traitors but for them to get together and duel each other seems a little sketchy.  Also, why the heck are the descendants of these people so angry?  These people can seriously hold grudges.  We’re talking about descendants of George Washington challenging the descendant of Benedict Arnold even though they are all just teenagers who have no control over what their ancestors may or may not have done.

The teenage characters were very easy to like and had fun personalities, even if some were a little over the top.  Lacy and Sheldon were definitely my favorites.  Lacy was kind of the ringleader.  She took charge of the investigation into Benedict Arnold.  Sheldon was the comic relief of the group.  Tucker was the whiz kid with an odd personality.  He didn’t interact with many people and he didn’t seem to have many emotional reactions to people or things.  He was hard to get a good read on.  As for Jasper, the main character, he didn’t have much of a personality either.  I didn’t understand most of his motives or his reactions to things.  For instance, his dad died and all Jasper could talk about was how much he hated the guy.  Then he spent the whole book discovering tiny little details about his dad that made him immediately forgive him and think that maybe he didn’t know him after all.  I could possibly understand this if he discovered some huge secret about his dad that made up for 17 years of abandonment but that wasn’t the case.

The historical aspect of the book was really what drew me in and while it was a fun part of the story, it wasn’t developed well at all.  I understand the National Treasure reference but don’t let that get your hopes up.  National Treasure has a much more believable backstory than League of American Traitors and it’s actually fleshed out, unlike this story.  The whole Benedict Arnold conspiracy theory was so flimsy and had almost nothing to back it up.  This whole story was based on the truth but Matthew Landis had the chance to add to history in any way he wanted.  Instead, he added very little and what he did add wasn’t anything substantial or all that interesting.

Overall, League of American Traitors read kind of like the first draft of a book.  The details needed to really make this a unique and interesting read just weren’t there.