Saturday, February 2, 2013

Also Known As

Also Known As, by Robin Benway.

My family works for the Collective. You've never heard of the Collective, but you've definitely read about our work. Tobacco executives on trail because of damning evidence? Human smuggling rings being broken up? The fall of that Peruvian dictator? That's us.

I have to admit, I'm still not sure who or what the Collective even is. I know only a few details: there are two hundred spies stationed around the globe, moving to wherever we're needed. Some of us are forgers (more on that later), computer hackers, statisticians, weapons experts, and I think a few assassins, too, but my parents won't answer my questions about them. I don't know how many safecrackers there are, but we move a lot because of me. Apparently a lot of safes need cracking.

Also Known As, Robin Benway, YA, teenage spies
If you are a fan of Ally Carter's books (which I am), or a fan of YA fiction in general, you will like this book. It's about Maggie, a spy who was born into her life, since her parents are spies, and cracked her first lock when she was a toddler. She and her family move back to NYC, for her toughest assignment yet: high school. Maggie has to become friends with a boy named Jesse Oliver and then figure out how to stop his dad, Armand, from publishing an expose on the Collective that could unmask her and her family and countless of other spies. The only problem is that she's never actually been to high school before ...

Official synopsis, from
Believe it or not, there are some drawbacks to being a 16-year old safecracker, daughter of spies, and member of a Robin Hood-esque organization that fights corruption. On the list: never getting to stay in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend, being the only spy ever to have a 10 p.m. curfew, and being sent on assignment to Russia. In the winter. For Maggie, the major perk thus far has been the avoidance of high school, and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple Masterlocks on the lockers(If it’s three digits or less, why even bother?). But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York on a major assignment, though, 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 information she needs to crack the case, all while trying not to blow her cover.

I thought the characters in this novel were very likable, including Maggie; my only complaint is that she seems to assimilate and make friends super quickly, and I don't know if that would play out in real life like that. Her "assignment," Jesse, is gorgeous, and predictably she falls in love with him. She also makes one good friend, Roux (pronounced like Kanga-ROO, minus the "Kanga"), who later ends up helping her with her mission. This book was a little "fluffier" than most teen spy novels I have read (meaning that it reads more like a YA book than a spy novel, if that makes sense) but it was definitely fun to read, and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good romcom/mystery.

And PS: if you end up reading Also Known As and liking it, the author has confirmed that there will be a second book - so keep an eye out for that on the shelves too, hopefully sometime soon.

Also Known As will be in stores on February 26th. 3.5 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley to review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.


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