A new series for me!
Author: Robin Benway
Title: Also Known As
Series: Also Known As #1
Release date: 12th of November 2013
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Spy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Inc
Imprint: Walker Books for Young Readers
Published by: Pages: 336 pages in paperback format
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.
Lately, I’m finding myself taking up several YA mystery/spy books. Luckily, this subgenre has enough titles to pick from and I didn’t have to dig too deep.
I worship snarky, sarcastic and smarty mouth heroines who know a good joke when they hear one and don’t take themselves overly seriously. And that is exactly who Maggie is. Needless to say, I was quite fond of this spunky little heroine. She was by far the highlight of this book.
Another aspect I liked – this story was just simple, quick yet very satisfying and fun. I also have to compliment the dialogue since it was frequent (I strongly dislike “brick wall” text stories and ones that go too far with descriptions) and, most importantly, humorous and at times extremely hilarious. It was full of great one-liners and funny banter.
The sweet and young romance between Maggie and Jesse wasn’t on center stage and usually I like my romance on the foreground, but here I actually liked them as they were. It was actually quite believable and cute how they got to know each other and became closer. Another relationship I liked Maggie in was with Angelo, her confidant, colleague and friend. At times I thought he was in some aspects a much better and understanding parental figure than her actual mother and father. She and Roux, however, were the perfect partners in crime and quite equally gifted in their speech (read: sarcastic).
I think I only have one con for this book and it was quite huge, but once I got used to not taking it overly seriously, it didn’t bother me as much fortunately:
The whole case Maggie was assigned to felt like a joke: a teenager with experience in mostly lock picking only must suddenly attend school the first time in her life, seduce a boy and get access to his dad’s computer. Sounds “simple” so add some mega spy parents that suddenly go loco because their daughter stays out late and it’s dangerous opposed panicking over the job she is given which is even waaaaaay more hazardous? Aren’t’ there easier ways to go the necessary info? Like steal the laptop or hack it? Or, assign someone more experienced to the case since this is so important? Obviously not, otherwise I would also be a spy.
Maggie – As already said, I thought she was a great heroine. She was just the type I usually root for, am generally fond of and prefer to read about. She didn’t get on my nerves and even she did act irrationally I didn’t really mind as much. I also liked her relationship with her parents, still, they went overboard many time as well and annoyed me with their sheltering and doubting their daughter. All in all, I wish there were more main characters like her.
This is an unpopular opinion and forgive me, but Roux was quite annoying at times. BUT, I more or less can turn a blind eye because she had some awesome one-liners!
Jesse was a nice guy and fit nicely with Maggie, but that was all he came across in the book – a suitable romantic interest. Fortunately, I think there is decent potential there for him to shine in the upcoming books.
If you don’t want anything too heavy on the brain and simply want clean-cut YA entertainment with a spunky heroine, then this book is for you. I’ve enjoyed it more than many others with the same theme and will definitely pick up the next book in the series.