Saturday, May 25, 2013
Your teen years are formidable. It seems like you will barely survive, but you eke out the other side relatively unscathed and tougher for the challenge. But what if you were raised by international spies, a lock picking, safe cracking prodigy (given Master Locks to play with and crack as a toddler), and had never gone to school, gone to a dance, or even kissed a boy? In Also Known As by Robin Benway, Maggie is up for her first official case for the group of Good Guy Spies they work for: going to high school and fitting in!
When news of a journalist writing an article about the group of spies her family works for, thereby blowing their cover, is released, Maggie is given her first job: infiltrate the high school of the journalist's son and get the evidence for the story back. This job is even more important than the other "do-good" jobs Maggie has been a part of before, because now her family's safety is in jeopardy. Even though the group of spies only work their magic for good, stopping bad guys, toppling evil, and returning items to those good people who they were taken from, she is still a spy, complete with aliases and multiple passports. Infiltrating a high school sounds relatively harmless, unless you have ever been a new kid before. Then you know just how treacherous this assignment really was. Terrifying in fact.
To make matters worse, Jesse Oliver, the mark, is a popular bad-boy. Maggie knows she has no chance of getting to him without an in, so she makes friends with an eccentric former Queen Bee named Roux. While Roux is currently a social-outcast, she still makes for a good in to Jesse Oliver's Halloween party. But after the party, Maggie realizes there is more to Jesse Oliver (she likes to say his full name!) than Maggie had expected. As she gets closer to him, she realizes she doesn't want him to just be a mark. But that would be breaking the cardinal rule for a spy: never get too close.
This was a fun, somewhat young, spy story, much in the same vein as Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series. Maggie was a typical teenager, complete with sarcasm, snark, and a desire to be kissed by a cute boy, but it was her entourage that was the most fun. You find yourself really liking Jesse Oliver, and Roux is hilarious. I like the fact that Roux was a former-Queen Bee, fallen from her throne. It made her so much more interesting, and her hilarious rambling diatribes were so much fun! When she came face to face with Angelo, the family's spy friend, I thought I was going to die! Too funny!
But this is a rather young story. It would be good for any young reader transitioning from Middle Readers to YA. The cover screams girl book, but if you can get a boy to read it, I can see them being equally entertained, especially since Maggie isn't terribly "girly". The spy stuff isn't terribly dangerous, but made for a fun read. I am looking forward to the sequel to this story to see what happens to everyone!