Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Ramblings on Also Known As by Robin Benway

Also Known As
By: Robin Benway
Release Date: February 28, 2013
Author Website
Book Provided by NetGalley


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. (from goodreads)

My Ramblings: 
This was a good book that could have been so much better. When I read the synopsis I got really excited. The plot, about a teenage spy, isn't one that I've seen a million times, so I was really looking forward to diving in. And it was good. Very good as a matter of fact. I liked the plot, I liked (most of) the characters and I loved how it all ended. However, there were a few things that irked me and I found I couldn't over look them. 

***Spoilers Ahead ***

Let's get the negatives right out of the way. Maggie is a spy, her whole family is spies, her life is one big adventure and bad guys are real and she's cracking safes and running for her life. AWESOME. Still with the exception of the final action of the book (which was perfect), we hear a lot about it, but don't really see it. In many instances the spy stuff takes a back seat to the teenager/family stuff. Which is okay, but I was expecting and hoping for more of the mystery and adventure. One moment in particular got under my skin. We see Maggie take on her first solo mission, she cracks a safe and gets the documents she was after, and then it was completely overshadowed by her missing curfew, to the point that the documents and her success or failure in her objective wasn't even mentioned. I loved how the book focused on the family dynamics and how everything is changing, I just wanted more of a balance. 

The other negative for me was Jesse. I just couldn't get behind him as a boyfriend worthy of potentially giving it all up for. He's clingy and needy and he is constantly looking for reassurance. I was annoyed with him in the first few sentences and I was just reading about him. I can't even imagine trying to deal with him in real life. Throughout the story I found myself thinking that the reason Maggie fell for him so quickly was because she didn't have any frame of reference to compare it to. It might be cute now that he's upset that it took her 15 minutes to call him back, but that sort of stuff wears on you in the long run. 

Those are my two big negatives.... everything else though? Everything else was great. Maggie and her family were written in such a way that made it  really easy to believe that they were so used to their lives on the move as spies that they couldn't adjust to trying to be a normal family. Her parents were totally unprepared to deal with both a daughter on her first solo case and one who might just be a normal teenage girls. It was awkward and humorous and somehow heartwarming at once. Maggie's friend Roux was awesome as well. A social outcast looking for a life jacket and she fit in perfectly with what Maggie needed.
My favorite character was probably Angelo, a family friend who is a master forger and Maggie's confidant. He is almost a 3rd parent to her, looking out for her and also trying to help assimilate into the real world. She's someone who Maggie can completely confide in, about both the spy stuff and the high school stuff. Plus he happens to be completely bad-ass. He wears a 3 piece suit and flies a helicopter. When she needs him he is ready to come to her rescue and when she doesn't need him he knows how to fade into the background and let her find her own way.

Seeing Maggie struggle with trying to do her job and finding out what it's like to be a real teen for the first time was really well written. She so wants to do her job well and make her family proud, but at the same time she is getting her first glimpse at what a non-spy life could be like. One where you have friends and get to just relax sometimes. It's completely foreign to her and what we find mundane is actually really appealing to her. 

As for the last action of the book. I loved it. There is a slow reveal as to who is trying to sabotage Maggie and her family. Benway does a great job at keeping you guessing. I thought I knew who it was, then I thought it was someone else (and was heartbroken b/c it would have been horrible if that person was the mole) and then suddenly it was someone else and it all made sense. I liked that I found out who it was the same time Maggie pieced it together instead of spending the book knowing who it was and wanting Maggie to just figure it out already. The way it all comes together is exciting and it was great to watch Maggie and her buddies come into their own and bring down the bad guys. 

So overall I liked this book- it didn't blow me away but it is really well written and keeps moving. If you are looking for a super spy book, this might not be the one for you, but if you are looking for a fun YA book about growing up and making your own choices in life, pick this one up and give it a spin.

No comments:

Post a Comment