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Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

Also Known As by Robin Benway
Series: Also Known As #1
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury Juvenile US
Young Adult
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery

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.
*Digital galley provided by publisher for an honest review*

In this James Bond-esque young adult novel, filled with teenage shenanigans, witty humor, partying hard, and a subtle-growing love, Also Known As does justice in the spy department and has me craving more of it's genre.

When Maggie is sent on an independent task that involve going to high school, getting to know Jessie Oliver in order to find out confidential information that could ruin the people she loves if it goes viral, she finds herself in a little over her head. But that's what makes this story great. Here we have a young, female prodigy safe-cracker sent in to obtain information to save her family's ass from being exposed. Maggie is a character that wants to prove to her parents as well as herself that she can complete this mission with no sweat at all. But the longer she get a taste of the high school life, being around people her age and making an outgoing, crazy, quirky friend name Roux, even falling for for the charming, sweet assignment that she had taken on, Maggie finds herself at war internally: her feelings combating the assignment she had taken on.

Now this shows the strength that Maggie is brought up with. When I say feelings, I don't just mean her growing affection for Jesse, what I mean is the betrayal that she has over this entire assignment. The secrets that she keeps from her friends in order to protect her family. Hiding such a huge secret is a hard burden to bare, and Maggie perseveres when it comes to keeping things under lock and key ironic for the prodigal safe-cracker. Now and again throughout the story Maggie tells herself that "People aren't safes" and that they can't just be picked apart for the information that she needs. Maggie learns the over time what it means to be a friend and what a friendship actually is, and putting your trust into people that mean so much to you.

The story itself was engaging as it was funny. You always know a story is going to be good when the main character can actually make you laugh out loud. Jeez, not just the main character but the supporting character as well. Roux was a riot! I loved every scene that she was in and almost every time she talks about her swear jar and her doorman, Harold. She was my girl this entire book, let me tell you. And my absolute favorite scene was the mess that was having Maggie's parents meeting everyone. Oh my, God, a great scene that just dripping with laughter, where the lies don't match up with the truth and Maggie is left jaw-dropped. One of the best parts of the book. You just don't expect it to happen, it's written so well that you can't not laugh because you know that Maggie's lies are never as she wants them to go. Pure hilarity this book, just page after page and it always gets better.
"I looked at my parents like they were speaking Korean. (And to be fair, my dad can speak Korean, so it wasn't outside the realm of possibility."
-Maggie- Also Known As uncorrected galley

Final Summation: Never have I gotten my hands on a young adult spy novel. The last ones that I remember reading were probably the Harriet the Spy novels and I enjoyed those back when I was in elementary school. Reading Also Known As was quite a refreshing change of pace in genre selection of fantasy, paranormal romance, etc., and I'm really glad that I had been given the opportunity to read and review this. I'm all for a novel that makes me smile, definitely an advocate for one that can make me laugh. Recommended for older teenagers because of Roux's propitious alcohol consumption/recommendations, but other than that Also Known As is an adorable, funny, spylicious novel that should be the next book on your "To Be Read" lists.

First Line: I cracked my first lock when I was three.

Four targets slayed