August 8, 2013

Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

Also Known As (Also Known As #1)
Author: Robin Benway
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury Juvenile
Page Count: 320
Source: Borrowed from the New York Public Library
Rating: Adorableness at it's best.
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.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Maggie's the daughter of two spies and a master safecracker. She always works on her parents assignments, but for the first time, Maggie gets her own mission - and she has to go to high school for the first time ever and flirt with a cute boy to complete it. Piece of cake, right?

Let's break this down:

The cuteness of this book is OFF THE FREAKING CHARTS.

I feel like that's a strange thing to say about a spy book. Like, you'd think a spy book would be gritty and scary and suspenseful. Which isn't to say this book wasn't a little of at least two of those things (scary and suspenseful - there really wasn't any grit here). But in general, it was just really adorable. This is because the baseline of this book is just adorableness and then there's some spy stuff slapped on top.

Do I think the spy stuff was inaccurate? Absolutely not. In fact, I think it was super accurate. Why WOULD you use a drill to break into a safe? That does seem loud and very illogical. All that stuff with the calling cards and secret meetings and passports? Yup. I buy it. But Robin Benway doesn't really focus on the scary. She more focuses on a teenage girl actually getting to be a teenager for once in her life. And said teenage girl is actually exercising her more or less true personality, making her first every friend and getting to know her first ever boyfriend. It's messy and complex and very cute and high school.

The scary's there, to be sure. There's a chase scene and a murder plot and a plot to expose ALL OF THE SPIES that would lead to imminent death. And yet the whole thing is just super light and fluffy. There's enough suspense to keep you turning the pages of this book, but it's light enough for you (dear reader) to be able to read this one before bed and not have trouble sleeping/have any nightmares.

Aside from the plot of this book being the most adorable of the adorables, I also loved the following:

1. Jesse Oliver - He's just such a precious, baggage-having teenage boy who happens to have a really cute puppy. So. What's not to love?
2. Maggie - She's just so adorably all over the place, is she not?
3. Jesse Oliver and Maggie together - I like Jesse, I like Maggie, stick 'em together, you have an adorable Jesse/Maggie sandwich.
4. Roux - This whole troubled teen who needs a friend after she betrayed all her other friends plot? I like it. I'd totally be down to read her story, but I feel like it'd be a little darker...
5. Maggie's Parents - I love to hate and hate to love overbearing, unreasonable parents. Even when those parents are spies.
6. Angelo - You dear, dear man. Never change. And please, take me to the Met with you. I feel like that'd be fun.
7. EVERYTHING ELSE - Can someone please take me on a date inspired by the dates in this book? Please? Thanks.

Okay. I think that's enough from me on the cuteness factor of this book. Especially since, if I keep going, I'll probably have to look up synonyms for "cute" and "adorable" and I really don't want to do that.

The long and short of it?

Plot: I mean, cute? Adorable? Those work. This one's also wonderfully simple and a totally page turner.
World Building: I don't know much about spies (GOOD JOB SPY ORGANIZATIONS AROUND THE WORLD!) but it sounds pretty legit to me. And that's totally what private schools in Manhattan look like. Trust me.
Character Development: I like how Maggie stops being JUST A SPY and totally becomes a teenage girl with teenage girl problems (plus a whole pile of spy problems on top).
Prose: The first-person narrative in this book totally helped the page-turning quality on this book. Maggie's voice is genuine and awesome. Very teenager-y, totally perfect for this light, fun spy book.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Looking for a cute romance, a little scary and suspense and a total page turner? This book's for you.

Like spies? Cute boys? Fun date ideas? WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOT READING THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW? Talk to me about your life choices in the comments below!


  1. We read this one at the same time, didn't we? *scratches head*

    I saw Robin Benway at a signing, and she talked about the research she did. She talked to safe crackers and got what she could out of them, though I think they're pretty protective of the tricks of the trade.

    The scary bits totally were not the meat of this book.

    I still always think Jamie Oliver and have to correct myself.

    I love Roux, and I think book two is about her, actually, though I could be lying to you right now.

    Sadly, I shall have to turn down the dates since a) I don't live in NYC and b) cannot ice skate to save my life.

  2. I LOVE that you loved this book. I agree - it's filled with adorableness. I saw Robin Benway at an event earlier this year, and she told us this funny story about the research she did for AKA. She knew she wanted Maggie to be a safecracker, so Benway contacted all these locksmiths to learn about locks, but none of the locksmiths would help her out. I guess because it's there job, and maybe they were a little concerned that this woman was asking how to break into places. Of course, Benway was much more entertaining when she was telling the story.

  3. I LOVE and adored this book. It was the perfect light read.

  4. I traded for this book and I can't wait to read it! <3 You just got me so excited!

  5. *claps wildly* SUCCESS. I want everyone to read this book and love it like I did, so I'm happy you liked it, Gaby.

    Wasn't Roux a fantastic side character? And Angelo aaaaaaand and and JESSE. I felt slightly inappropriate, liking him so much, but he was so damned CUTE and awesome. I cannot wait for the sequel.

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  6. This book is TOTALLY adorable! I thought it was really funny too. My favorite characters are definitely Roux and Angelo -- I would like one of each of those people in my life.

  7. I have such happy memories of reading this book. It was so much fun. Don't you think it would make a great Disney Channel movie?

  8. I LOVED Angelo. I et so excited when people read this book because I thought it was just ADORABLE. And I agree with Estelle. It'd make a great Disney Channel movie!

  9. I adored this book so much! I would have liked a liiiiiittle less instalove and a liiiiitle more spy stuff, but who cares. It was so fun! Roux is one of my favorite side characters ever, but Angelo is also amazing! I need someone like him in my life. I really want to reread this now, actually. AND THE SEQUEL TAKES PLACE IN PARIS, G, PARIS!


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