December 12, 2013

Review: Going Rogue by Robin Benway

Title: Going Rogue (Also Known As #2)
Author: Robin Benway
Release Date: January 14th, 2014
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Page Count: 320
Source: ARC from Publisher
First Reaction: EEEEEEEE *sigh* Perfection.
Being permanently based in a local New York City high school as an undercover operative has its moments, good and bad, for 16-year-old safecracker Maggie Silver. Pros: More quality time with her former mark-turned-boyfriend Jesse Oliver and insanely cool best friend, Roux. Getting to spend quality time with her semi-retired and international spy honorary uncle, Angelo. Cons: High school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. But when Maggie's parents are falsely accused of stealing priceless gold coins, Maggie uses her safecracking skills to try and clear their names. Too bad it only serves to put her and everyone she loves in danger. Maggie and her "new team" flee to Paris where they must come up with a plan to defeat their former allies.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]


It's been a year since Also Known As ended and Maggie's been out of the life. She's not a spy but a girlfriend, daughter and best friend. Which is pretty great. But once a spy, always a spy. So when things start smelling fishy up in the Collective, Maggie's pulled back in to help sort things out. But the thing about "once a spy, always a spy" is that it causes trouble with certain areas of life - like the girlfriend and best friend bits. Not to mention, when the Collective starts smelling fishy (even more fishy than last book), things get really dicey, really quickly, which basically leads to this book being my favorite spy book to date.

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways:

1. Robin Benway: This is a weird category for me to count, but I think I should go into this saying I adore this author. I read Audrey Wait a long, long time ago and thought it was really cute and fluffy but not necessarily something I'd go back to for the feels. Then I read Also Known As a little while ago (my review) and I was like, "Yeah, this is AdorbsTown, I really like it, Robin Benway really knows how to keep it light." But then I read Going Rogue and it turns out that not only is Robin Benway THE BEST at constructing THE FLUFF, she's also a brilliant drama/angst/feels writer. I mean, this book had so much yelling and feels and stuff blowing up that I was just like, *jaw on floor*. The ante was so upped on this one I can't even see it anymore. 

2. Hanging Out With Old Friends: Part of the reason I think Going Rogue is so great is because we had a book one to get to know Maggie, Jesse and Roux. So instead of having to get to know new main characters, we got to plot down for a fun story time with our old, fun, quirky friends who always know how to entertain. The dynamic between the three is flawless (please, Roux is the best, Jesse is... well, well *winks* and Maggie, be cooler, honestly). I just can't get enough and, even though this book totally ended in a good place, I would love a third. Love. (There isn't going to be, one, right? Don't worry, I'm already crying over it.)

3. Maggie: What an awesome, spy protagonist. I mean, you're great in all of the ways. You're a great leader, a great thinker, a great friend (no matter what you think otherwise). You're also a great person. And you feel like a real person too. Honestly, I'd hang out with you, no matter how much danger you'd put me in. Because life is more interesting when you're not just sitting around watching TV. Or, at least, so I'm told.

4. Maggie and Jesse: I don't want to write a whole bullet point. I just want to spontaneously combust from their adorable-ness. Even when they disagree/fight they're still one of my favorite couples in YA. I especially love how they make room for Roux in their lives. She's such a lonely character and her situation absolutely breaks my heart. (But more on that later). Maggie and Jesse are just so fantastic and, guys, there's this one scene where Maggie asks Jesse why he loves her, which might have made me mad if it wasn't done at the perfect moment. And if Jesse hadn't provided the most adorable answer. Basically, what I think I'm saying is, pack me up a 24 year old Jesse Oliver, I'll take him to go.

5. Jesse: Jesse needs his own bullet point for just one second because he speaks French and I want to marry him. Still. That is all. (I could also go on about his hair and his perfect understanding nature but that seems excessive I think you all know my feelings about this boy by now.)

6. Roux: Roux is the sad character of the book. Which is interesting because she's the loud bubbly one. But she totally comes to show that just because you seem happy all the time doesn't mean you are. And I can relate to that. A whole lot. But if you think about it, she has every right to feel all of the sads. I mean, her parents are no where, her only friend is a spy who can't share everything with her, Facebook and the streets of NYC are places where people yell mean words at her for a bad decision she made over a year earlier. I mean, really, High School, I forgot you were so mean, but the more I think about it, the more I remember how awful teenagers can be.

7. Angelo: We all need an Angelo in our lives. I can't even understand how anyone could ever hate him, I love him, come here and teach me how to play chess, OKAY SIR? Also, teach me how to pick locks. I think that'd be a fun skill to learn as well. 

8. The Parents: I think one of the things that's so fantastic about the series is how involved the parents are. Sometimes in YA, the parents are completely missing and it makes me so mad my head almost blows up. But Maggie's parents are the totally opposite. They're always present and so very close to their daughter. There is a bit of this book where they're separated but it's not because anyone wants to be and it's just. so. perfect.

9. The Plot: Hey, that's right, this book is more than just character driven, it's also crazy awesome spy mission driven. Maggie really kicks butt and takes name in this one, and so does Angelo. Roux and Jesse get even more involved this time around, despite Maggie's protests (a spy can't have everything she wants, y'know?) and the whole thing moves so quickly and so fantastically. I also loved the new characters that are thrown in to flesh things out. Ames, Ryo and Elodie are so much fun and they really help with both the humor and serious sides of this book. OH and, so, the bad guy in this installment is the Collective. AKA the organizing good guy of the last installment (kinda) and that in and of itself was so clever and intense and amazing. I just loved it.

10. The Places: Um. Robin Benway. Let's talk settings. I live in Manhattan and I didn't even know about all of these places. I get off the subway on 95th and Broadway and what even? The way NYC is described is so perfect (not to mention that Roux is the quintessential New Yorker and I love it). And the history of the city woven into this book is amazing, please can we sit down and talk more about my City - this place you seem to know all of the things about. And then Paris. We can sit down and talk about Paris on a flight to France and then let's go on a tour because it sounds like you know things about that city I'd like to see with you as my guide. I mean, what even with the research I loved every second. (I hope that was coherent because it might not have been.)

11. The Growing Up: In the last book the main characters just kind of fell together. They went with it, got through it and left it. In this book, there's a lot more coming together of the minds. Maggie has to learn how to share information. Jesse and Roux have to learn about the spy life and how it really works. The three of them really have to learn how to work together outside of the moment, when things are quiet in between the loudness that is the danger of spying. And it's rough at first. They almost don't pull it together. But they eventually figure out how to be a team, not just three people who care so much about each other. It's that development throughout the story that totally made me love every single page of this book (among other things) (JK among Jesse things) (no, but really I loved everything, not just Jesse).

The long and short of it?

Plot: Fun, fluffy, serious, exciting, THE BEST.
World Building: I'm still not over how real all of the places and situations in this book felt to me.
Character Development: Everyone in this book has their moments of weakness, strength, utter realness and growth. And I loved it all.
Prose: I love Maggie's voice so, so, so much. I felt like I was right there with her the whole time, even though I'd only just snuck into her head through the pages of this book.
Would I Recommend This Book?: I'd recommend this series to anyone who loves spies, fluffiness, serious times, great friendships, good romance, NYC, Paris and all of the other good things on planet earth. 

So. Are you getting the feeling that I'm recommending this whole series to everyone in the world? Are you? GOOD. That's kind of my intention here. If you still need convincing, let me know in the comments below and I'll set you straight, okay?