Thursday, February 21, 2013

ARC Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

Also Known As
Author: Robin Benway
Publication: Walker Childrens; 1 edition (February 26, 2013)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: I just loved this funny contemporary story. Maggie is a spy. She is also seventeen. She and her parents have traveled the world working for the Collective—a super-secret organization. Her mother is an excellent hacker, her father has a gift for languages, and Maggie is an excellent safe-cracker. Their latest case—and Maggie's first solo job—has her entering new territory. She has to go to high school! Maggie is enrolled in an exclusive New York City private school where she has to befriend Jesse Oliver in order to find out if his magazine owner father is going to publish an article that will out Maggie and the other spies who work for the Collective.

Maggie wasn't expecting to find a friend or to fall in love with her target. Almost the first person she meets at the school is Roux who is a friendless poor little rich girl. Their personalities click and Maggie becomes her only friend. It is a nice benefit that she has also known Jesse since they were pre-schoolers. When Maggie meets Jesse, she is immediately attracted to him because he is smart and nice and funny. She goes to his Halloween party and manages to find a flash drive in a hidden safe but she also gets closer to both Roux and Jesse making her feel really guilty about the secrets she has to keep.

I loved the humor in this story. I still break out laughing when I think about Jesse and Maggie's first date and ice skating. While I was reading that scene, I had to keep setting my Kindle down to wipe away the tears of laughter that kept blurring my vision. 

I loved the relationship that Maggie had with her parents and their friend Angelo. It was clear that they were both loving and supportive and Angelo filled the role of a benevolent uncle. Maggie's relationship highlighted the bad relationships that both Jesse and Roux had with their parents. Roux's parents had more or less abandoned her. She lived alone in a luxurious penthouse apartment with a housekeeper who didn't work evenings or weekends. Lots of Roux's problems came from her innate loneliness and her desire to find someone to love her. Jesse's parents had just been through a divorce. His father was so obsessed with his business that he didn't talk to Jesse and his mother has disappeared out of his life.

Readers of contemporaries will find much to love in the novel. I look forward to sharing it with the students in my high school media center.

Favorite Quote:
He spoke the same way my dad did whenever he was annoyed with me. Short sentences. Because the effort. Of Talking. Is just. Too much.
I got this book from Walker Childrens via Netgalley. You can buy your copy here.

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