Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: Also Known As (AKA)

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover. Quoted from Goodreads


Such a cute story!  Honestly, anyone who loves Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls books needs to check this one out. Strong, quirky main character? Check.  Loyal, opinionated best friend? Check.  Adorable love interest? Check.  Delightfully off-the-wall mentor? Check. Lots of safe-cracking? Check.  Peril and possible kidnapping? Check. Really, what more could you ask for?

First there's Maggie.  She is absolutely adorable.  She's quirky, funny, and dramatic.  I loved watching her find her way through high school, make friends, and fall in love. She has a strong voice, and really, she's what makes the story work so well. She's the type of person you can totally see as being your best friend, and you kind of wish she existed so she could be.

Next on my list of things I love? Jesse and Roux.  Jesse was an adorable love interest (and yes, I realize I'm overusing the word adorable, but it's sort of the driving tone of the novel). He's the realistic, average, teenage boy you can't help but fall in love with, and I enjoyed watching their relationship progress.  Now Roux.  She's kind of hilarious.  Mean girl turned social outcast, who becomes Maggie's best friend is ripe with potential, and Robin Benway absolutely has fun with it. Roux's quirky, kind of crazy, and hilarious.

Now for everyone else.  First, Angelo.  He is the delightfully quirky spy every book like this needs to have.  He makes the perfect mentor for Maggie, and before Roux came along, he was kind of her best friend as well.  I enjoyed his outfits and business cards and pretty much everything else about him.  Now for Maggie's parents.  I have mixed feelings about them.  They have an excellent backstory, and I love their close relationship with their daughter.  That being said, it drove me a bit crazy at times.  For all they raised her in the spy world, they don't seem to really trust her.  I understand this is a new situation for all of them (Maggie being new to the whole high school thing), but there were several times I wanted to smack them either for their impatience with her work, keeping secrets, or almost destroying her cover. It just didn't really seem to fit with the people they were established to be in the beginning.

Now as far as the actual spy element goes, it's a little lacking.  Maggie cracks a few safes and solves a mystery but it's not really the driving force of the novel.  It's more the set up for Maggie's journey through high school, finding a best friend, boyfriend, and balancing out her life.  It's not that it isn't fun or present, but if you're looking for a hard core spy novel with tons of suspense and cool gadgets, this isn't it.  It's half spy novel, half high school romantic comedy/coming of age.

Still, I found this an absolutely delightful novel.  Absolutely 4 stars.  It's fun, full of great characters, and enough action to keep you from ever putting the book down.  Honestly, if you don't find yourself smiling through most of this book, I'd be very surprised. It's pure, addictive fun.

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