I'm so excited to be part of the Triple Threat Blog Tour! I'll have a review of Also Known As by Robin Benway today and a review of Hysteria by Megan Miranda on Friday.
by Robin Benway
To be published by Bloomsbury
on February 26, 2012
Source: eARC from the publisher
My summary: Maggie is the daughter of spies, and has been dragged around the world on her parents' secret missions as long as she can remember. But one day they tell her that she's being given an assignment of her own. She has to attend private school -- complete with lockers, annoyingly short uniform skirts, and actual classes to attend. Her mission is to find classmate Jesse Oliver and steal some information -- held by Jesse's father -- that could endanger her fellow spies. No problem. Maggie's an expert safecracker, a master of disguise, a cool liar. But when she starts spending more time with Jesse, she forgets to keep an eye on her heart.
My take: After reading a couple of very dark books, I was SO happy to pick up Also Known As. First off, I'm crazy about anything that has to do with spies. I always wanted to be a spy or a detective and, though I've resigned myself to the fact that will probably never happen, I love to live vicariously. I'm also just a big fan of Robin Benway's books. If you haven't read Audrey, Wait! and The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June, you should definitely add them to your list.
I adored Maggie. She's grown up globe-trotting with her spy parents, watching them work, and they've given her little jobs to do, but she's dying to prove herself. So when they tell Maggie that has her first solo assignment, she's beyond thrilled. All she has to do is locate this new classmate of hers, Jesse, and get into his father's safe. Since Maggie has a special talent for locks, she's confident she can do it. First, though, she'll have to survive high school. She's appalled at the tiny uniform skirt she has to wear, disappointed in her ability to speak French, and generally not used to classrooms and New York City.
As someone who has complained about all the dead parents in YA, I am pleased to report that Maggie has a living mom and dad who are a crazy mix of spy and overprotective parents. There's also this great mysterious character named Angelo, who's Maggie's handler and surrogate uncle.
As a honorary New Yorker (I've lived here since college) I am pleased to say that Also Known As gets the setting exactly right. Yes, the private school girls here do wear microscopic skirts (in fact, they roll the waistbands to make them even shorter.) Yes, the cabs either go too fast or too slow. And yes, locals like me are reduced to sputtering rage when tourists have the nerve to stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Hello? The sidewalks are like our highways. Pick your lane, and keep it moving.
If you've read Audrey, Wait!, you might remember Victoria, Audrey's outrageous BFF. In Also Known As, Maggie meets the equally outrageous Roux. (If you watch a lot of cooking shows, you'll know that this poor girl is named after a mixture of melted butter and flour. ) Roux is an outcast after getting caught up in some serious Girl Drama, and she offers to be Maggie's friend. This seems like a bad idea, but then Roux turns out to be a really endearing and hilarious character. This is a funny book, but I think I laughed at Roux's lines more than anyone's.
Then there's Jesse. He's also not what he seems to be. This was probably my favorite part of the book -- watching Maggie figure out if there was any way to carry out her assignment and not break Jesse's heart. I was so nervous, wondering what she was going to do. To me, that was more suspenseful than the spy stuff -- which was suspenseful too. And -- shocker -- this book actually had a resolution. I was not expecting that, but I loved it!
If you're a fan of books like Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series and Heist Society series, you should definitely try Also Known As.
If you're a fan of books like these, check out my post on YA Books About Spies, Assassins and Secret Agents!