Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Also Known As by Robin Benway

Monday, February 4, 2013

Just Finished Reading ... Also Known As by Robin Benway



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.

Also Known As
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!

50 comments:

  1. So happy to read your review-I only read the first chapter last night but I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing what is to come and especially meeting the unfortunately named Roux.

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    1. Hope you love it. I thought it was so much fun.

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  2. I'm not really sure if this is something for me, but it definitely sounds like a great read after some dark books! :) I'm happy to see that there are still books out there with a family/parents in it!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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  3. I love spy books! I'm so excited to see an addition to the YA group. Great review!

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  4. I can't wait to read this! I love Ally Carter's books. I got this from Net Galley so I'll be reading it soon

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  5. I'm not sure if this is a book for me but it does sound interesting. I'm glad you enjoyed it :) Great review!

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  6. Lol Jen I am with you in that boat XD the weird non existing parents in YA world irks me, or the fact that if they do exist they are kind of lame and always wrong. So in this one, I guess they are not so lame :p

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    1. They are hilarious. I mean, they're spies and she's on a spy mission, but they argue about her curfew.

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  7. LIVING PARENTS? You've got to be kidding me. ;) This book sounds so fun! I love spy novels and you don't see too many in YA that are done well. I hadn't even heard of this one, but I clearly must read it after your rave review. :) Thanks!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. It was a lot of fun. I love books that make me laugh out loud.

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  8. EEP! =) I also love spy books and quite frankly don't think there's enough of them out there so I'm super, SUPER excited to read this!! I've never read any of Robin Benway's books but have heard great things about her writing. Your review has gotten me even more pumped for this book so thank you! =)

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  9. oh wow I am reminded of Ally Carter's books and like you, I've grown up with this dream of being a spy or detective and like you, I am sure that will never happen. I love the synopsis you described and can't wait to pick it up. I have searched high and low for Audrey Wait! but I have a feeling I need to just order it online. Great review, and wow Roux... that is a scar-inducing name.

    great review! I am even MORE excited for this book than before

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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    1. I live in hope that I will have a second career as a spy...

      Hope you love this one

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  10. Oh this one sounds so fun!! Great review!! I have been meaning to read The GG books and The Heist Society ones and this sounds very much like those!!

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  11. This seems like such a fun book! I'm on an emotional overload, book-wise, too. I love smart girls, and when you add in spies, I'm sold.

    Great review, Jen. I'm really glad you enjoyed Also Known As.

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    1. This is a really charming, funny book. With. An. Ending. That's huge!

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  12. I just checked out AUDREY, WAIT from the library, and this book sounds even more exciting. Spy novels are my favorite. I just pre-ordered this one from the library so thanks for putting it on my radar!

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  13. Aw, I can't wait to check this one out! LOVED Audrey, Wait! so much and like you I also love spy novels (especially ones in the same vein as Heist Society.) I'm anxious to see if I love these characters much as Audrey and the gang (they really stole my heart!)

    Like you I am also a big fan of including the parentals in the story so that is a definite PLUS.

    And I must meet this Roux chic! Yeah, what a tragic name she was given. That name would suck even if you lived in the heart of Cajun country:)

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    1. At first I was skeptical of her but soon she had me laughing so hard my family kept coming in and asking me what was so funny.

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  14. This does sound like fun! I wonder if there's space on my tbr... :)

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  15. I was pretty much sold just front he cover. It looks like a lot of fun & yay! for adults....who care!

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    1. There was another cover (on Netgalley) with her in a bunch of wigs and I liked that one a lot. But she spends so much time complaining about her uniform skirt that this one fits.

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  16. Maggie sounds great, and know what you mean about lighter books after darker ones.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  17. Cool! I need to start reading more books like these. Sigh* So many books so little time.

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  18. Ah! This book just seems like so much FUN. I loved Audrey, Wait, and I'm so happy to be hearing wonderful things about this one. Yay for live (spy) parents and a Victoria-like best friend! I'll certainly be checking this one out.

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  19. This sounds like a fun book! But I kind of want to go stop in the middle of NY crosswalks now. Maybe if I ever feel like taking a walk on the wild side. lol.

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  20. One of my favorite things about this book was Maggie's parents. They were so cool, yet still parents! That doesn't happen often in YA, but whenever it does it seems like I always love those books just a little more because of it. I adored this book! Greg review :)

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

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    1. Right? It cracked me up how they'd be all, "Go crack that safe open, but be home by ten p.m."

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  21. Why do I have a reading schedule? Why can't I read this NOW? So glad you enjoyed it...can't wait to get my giggle on. :)

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    1. Because you and I are those kind of people who do things in order. I'd be reading this later in Feb except for the blog tour!

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  22. I have a feeling, I'm going to need something to hold me over after I finish Perfect Scoundrels. This is probably going to be it.

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  23. This book sounds like so much fun! I will admit to you that I *may* have been one of those tourists to stop in the middle of the sidewalk, it's just that there is so much to see! I promise it won't happen next time I go to New York!

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    1. Just pull over to the side of the road if you have to stop. That's all we ask :)

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  24. A book that ticks a lot of boxes for me. I needed a book like this right now & it's thanks to your review that I found it.

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  25. I think this may end up on the TBR list. I just started listening to Heist Society and LOVE it! This might be my new niche in YA!

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    1. Heist Society is a fantastic audio book. I read it AND listened to it.

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