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Book Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway



Maggie Silver (not her real last name, obviously) is a 16-year-old safecracker and member of an international spy movement called The Collective.  Both of her parents are active spies, and they travel the globe, fighting crime and stopping evil in its tracks.  When it comes time for Maggie’s first solo-mission, she feels ready: infiltrate a Manhattan prep school, snuggle up to the school’s resident bad boy to get information crucial to the case, and get out without being made.  But when she starts to make friends, Maggie starts to realize that being a spy has its downsides.

Robin Benway’s spy book has a lot going for it. It’s fun, frequently funny (which can be hard to achieve), and more than a little silly.  Readers looking for a fun, easy read are going to enjoy this one.  It’s a romantic comedy in book form.

Maggie is the kind of protagonist it’s hard not to like.  She’s funny, a  little cocky, and completely her age.  Despite her years of spy training, she’s authentically sixteen, and as a result, the book’s plot ends up going the way you’d think it would.  Although a bit on the predictable side, Maggie’s narration is so often humorous it’s impossible not to continue reading.  As her relationships with kids at the prep school develop, so does your investment in the story.

Realistic relationships, including a healthy one with her parents, help round out this novel’s appeal.  While her romance with Jesse Oliver is totally standard fare, it’s got all the tropes that readers looking for romance will gobble up.  Her friendship with the colorful Roux is much more interesting, and the book’s ruminations about growing up, friendship, and trust make this more than just a spy caper.

The premise is ridiculous, of course, but that’s part of the genre’s appeal.  Silly, light fun, guaranteed to hook readers.  This one has massive teen appeal, especially for fans of the Gallagher Girls series.  Recommended.

Also Known As by Robin Benway.  Bloomsbury Juvenile: 2013.  Library copy.

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