Book Title/Author: Also Known As by Robin Benway
Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury – February 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary (with a mystery/spy twist)
Series: Unknown for now. I’ve heard that it is.
Other Books From Author: Audrey, Wait! and The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June
I received this as an egalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!
Since Maggie has been a young girl she’s been cracking the codes to safes and picking locks as she apparently inherited the spy gene from her parents who are international spies taking down serious baddies around the world. She’s never stayed in one place for too long and has never gotten a chance to be with her peers but her latest mission sends her into the trenches of high school for her most important mission yet — a mission that relies solely on her. She must act the part of a high school student of a fancy private school in New York City while trying to get close to Jesse Oliver — the cute boy who will get her the information she needs from his dad. She must maintain her cover while navigating the foreign world of high school — meeting friends, handling classes and talking to guys — as she realizes that it’s not as easy to look at people as “just a job” when it gets personal.
Also Known As was my latest gym read. This was a problem. Why you ask? Because pretty much the whole time I had a stupid grin on my face while reading it. Will confirmed this one day when he asked me if the book I was reading was funny because every time he looks at me I’m smirking. Also Known As, like Robin Benway’s novel Audrey, Wait!, made me smile a lot because of the snappy dialogue and a loveable cast of characters (also: the adorable romance). It was impossible for me not to smirk with this wildly entertaining teen spy story. Truly though it was a fun read whilst on the elliptical because it was incredibly fun and easy to get into — I swear I heard James Bond music in my head during some parts.
This is my first teen spy novel I’ve ever read and it was a beyond fun plot — a teenage spy has to go undercover in high school (somewhere she’s never been with her undercover, on the road life style) and integrate and hone in on her subject that she needs to get closer. That subject just happens to be a cute boy. You know the sorts of shenanigans that are bound to happen with that sort of plot and Also Known As didn’t disappoint with Maggie’s thrilling yet fun mission full of mishaps and danger. It definitely had more of a light, fun feel rather than a dangerous feel but you always knew the stakes were high for Maggie and her family.Definitely an older Spy Kids kind of feel but better!
I loved Maggie’s badassness throughout the novel but loved the way she had to assimilate into high school — a completely foreign world to her in contrast to her safe-cracking and lock-picking in cities around the world and bringing down serious baddies of the world. Before in her missions she didn’t feel any sort of human connection — she was in and she was out. With this big mission, not only was it hard to get down the whole high school thing, but she had to get to know her subject firsthand and I really loved her struggle with getting to know these people and still treating them as just a mission. You could really feel how conflicted she was as she juggled the lies and the feelings and the expectations of her parents and their bosses.
As much as you’d think this would be a fast, breakneck plot-based novel (I mean, a crimesolving teen spy), it was really driven very much by Maggie and the fabulous cast of characters. The friendship between Maggie and Roux was refreshing and Roux made the best sidekick ever. Maggie and Jesse’s complicated relationship was engaging and delightful even though you know it’s going to get messy when Jesse becomes a real person to Maggie and not just a subject. Jesse is incredibly sweet and a refreshing and, if you love the nice guys in YA, you are going to fall head over heels for Jesse. I also really loved the adults in the novel — Maggie’s parents and Angelo. I loved that it was a family affair and that their family had to learn to adjust to Maggie being a “normal” high school student for this mission.
Like Robin Benway’s Audrey, Wait!, Also Known was completely charming and fun as we watch a young spy’s transition to being a high school student for her latest mission while trying to crack the case by getting to the subject’s cute teenage son. It was a fun, crimesolving romp through high school and the city streets of the Big Apple but the shining star is Maggie and her growth and the delightful cast of characters involved. COULD NOT STOP SMIRKING while reading it on the elliptical because of the snappy dialogue, the grin-inducing situations and an adorably complicated romance. I mean, she’s a SPY and he’s the target. You know it’s going to get messy. I really enjoyed this one though I still think Audrey, Wait! is my favorite of the two I’ve read from her.
For Fans Of: teenage spy stories, snappy dialogue, a good balance of a crime-solving plot and character development, Spy Kids if they were a bit older, Veronica Mars (ok not SO like it bc nothing could ever be VMars but sort of with the witty nature and the balance of high school life and her detective life)
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? How did you feel about it? How awesome was Roux?? I think she is a new favorite secondary character. Have you read any other really good spy stories? Do you also think it could be a fun movie?