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ARC Review: A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar

Publication Date: December 13, 2022


Adiba Jaigirdar, author of one of Time‘s Best YA books of all time, gives Titanic an Ocean’s 8 makeover in a heist for a treasure aboard the infamous ship that sank in the Atlantic many years ago.

A thief. An artist. A acrobat. An actress. While Josefa, Emilie, Hinnah, and Violet seemingly don’t have anything in common, they’re united in one goal: stealing the Rubaiyat, a jewel-encrusted book aboard the RMS Titanic that just might be the golden ticket to solving their problems.

But careless mistakes, old grudges, and new romance threaten to jeopardize everything they’ve worked for and put them in incredible danger when tragedy strikes. While the odds of pulling off the heist are slim, the odds of survival are even slimmer . . .

Perfect for fans of Stalking Jack the Ripper and Girl in the Blue Coat, this high-seas heist from the author of The Henna Wars is an immersive story that makes readers forget one important detail— the ship sinks.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was SO excited for this one. I really enjoyed Adiba Jaigirdar’s other books, and ‘sapphic heist on the Titanic’ ticks like, ALL the boxes for me.

And for the most part, it lived up to expectations.

The plot progressed smoothly without any hiccups and without stalling, which I appreciated.

The heist itself was a bit underwhelming, and they gave up on the initial objective pretty quickly, making the whole endeavor seem a bit pointless. However, it was written quite well and it kept my interest and had the appropriate amount of things kept back from the reader and reveals and such.

The part after the heist was actually more intense and kept my interest more. At first I didn’t pay much attention to the dates and times at the beginning of each chapter, but towards the end the chapters got shorter and the timestamps sped up until it became a pretty intense countdown. Equally intense was the fact that the reader knows first that the Titanic is sinking (not a spoiler – we all knew it going in but we didn’t KNOW know it. Or at least I didn’t) and the tension builds quickly as we watch the girls separate and each have to discover that fact on their own.

I was confused about which character was which at first, but as the story progressed they each got more time to shine and I grew to appreciate each of them. Violet and Hinnah were maybe not as well-developed as Josefa and Emilie, but I still appreciated getting their POVs.

I liked the romance, and I also liked that it was very mild and was very much not the focus of the book. It was there in the small things if you looked for it, but it didn’t overpower the heist storyline.

The ending was a bit of a shock as I didn’t know to look up content warnings on the author’s website, but upon reflection I feel like it was fitting and more realistic than the ending I was expecting. The final epilogue-like section took away some of the drama and tension of the ending and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one had I like it and it feels necessary, but on the other hand it leaves everything feeling a bit anti-climactic.

Some of my issues with the story could have stemmed from the fact that I listened to a ‘digital voice galley’ which is not the actual audiobook and is not read by a real person. So it is necessarily a bit robotic and it can make it hard to differentiate between characters. In the actual audiobook, I imagine they will have the four main characters either read by different people or read by a skilled voice actor who can give each girl her own ‘voice.’

Overall I enjoyed this a lot and I would recommend it to readers who enjoy historical novels and heists and sapphic characters. I would however caution that it does not reach the intricacy or depth of heist novels like Six of Crows (not many do – perhaps it’s not the best benchmark by which to judge this genre).

*Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Audio for providing a digital voice galley to review.

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