Also Known As: A Book Review

Book: Also Known As (Also Known As #1)

Author/Authoress: Robin Benway

Also Known As (Also Known As, #1)

Cover:3/5

Yikes! No offense (and we all know that when someone says that they really do mean offense ) but I can see why Maggie hates that uniform. And I only saw the shoes, socks and skirts. Having spent 5 years in private schools, she has my sympathy. Completely. But it’s not my sympathy which gives this cover a 3/5 rating. It’s all the spy terms that are subtly written. Espionage, mole, spy, detective, double agent… as Maggie would say.’ Not beige’. Definitely gives the cover some originality And that’s why the cover gets the (somewhat) salvageable score of 3/5. 3 marks for the cool words.  5 marks off for everything else.

Seriously, you should compare these two and since Also Known As was released later (2013) than I’d Tell You I Love But Then I’d Have To Kill You (2006), I’m going to have to say Also Known As is the knockoff.

Plot: 3/5

Which is more dangerous: being an international spy… or surviving high school?

Maggie Silver has never minded her unusual life. Cracking safes for the world’s premier spy organization and traveling the world with her insanely cool parents definitely beat high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. (If it’s three digits, why bother locking it at all?)

But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York City for her first solo assignment, her world is transformed. Suddenly, she’s attending a private school with hundreds of “mean girl” wannabes, trying to avoid the temptation to hack the school’s elementary security system, and working to befriend the aggravatingly cute son of a potential national security threat… all while trying not to blow her cover.

From the hilarious and poignant author of Audrey, Wait! comes a fast-paced caper that proves that even the world’s greatest spies don’t have a mission plan for love.

Yep, it definitely looks a little cheesy but doesn’t everyone like cheese? This was a super cute read and the little snippets of technical know-how on safecracking and spying that were slipped in made me feel like this was not a huge waste of my time. Not that I know how to pick a lock or anything…Nope, not at all. 

Characters:3/5

In these kind of books, it’s the narrator’s voice that can make it or break it. And in this case it was definitely make it. Robin Benway gave Maggie a quirky, sarcastic and witty style of speaking/thinking. You know how some authors make their characters (espescially in young adult novels) a whiny voice so that the narrating voice isn’t monotonous or flat? Yeah, this author doesn’t. She’s a drama queen but not whiny. Another thing that middle aged authors don’t seem to get? Despite what our text messgaes look like, we teenagers do not exclusively speak in abbreviations. We don’t say stuff like ‘brb asap ttyl bff’. And Robin Benway understands that. Or at least his characters do. 

I have a bone to pick with the parents in this story. Other than having a couple of cute lines and worrying themselves sick about their daughter, they barely seem to exist. I mean, hello, they’re supposed to be spies. Couldn’t they have done a little more than sit at home doing  crossword puzzles and discouraging their daughter from having friends? Couldn’t they, you know, actually hack? Or use their impressive language skills to do more than scold their daughter and make nice with her french teacher?

But other than the parents, we have a pretty cool, diverse cast in this book. Angelo, a retired forger and a elegant and calm man plays the role of god-father/ best friend for Maggie. Wanna know what’s so cool about that? He’s a LGBT. Bu what impresses me most about him? His Yoda like advice.

Roux is a lot like the MC and maybe that’s why they both get along well. They’re both sarcastic, quirky and outcasts. Maggie’s an outcast by virtue of being the ‘new kid’ and Roux’s one because she cheated on her ex-best friend. Roux has a lot of interesting dialogues (both while she’s drunk and sober). She has a way of ingratiating herself with everyone even though it would seem her boisterous and blunt personality should take away from that instead of contributing to it.

Jesse started off with a less than spectacular introduction. We/Maggie learns that he shoplifted a book. Worse (for Maggie at least), he got caught. In fact, I think she makes some remark about how meeting his golden retriever would probably be the best part of having to befriend him. But her opinion quickly changes after he helps her take the very drunk Roux back home. She realises he’s actually a  sweet and nice guy and not just a rebel-without-a-cause.

Romance:4/5

The romance is sooo adorable. The couple often has their awkward moments. But who gets texting and phoning etiquettes right on their first try? There was something easy and natural about their relationship (once you get past the fact that she met him solely because he was her assignment). There’s a slow, sweet pace to their relationship. You know, the whole friends and then more than friends thing?  I love, love, love how their conversations go. Definitely one of my favorite YA pairings.

Ending:2/5

This is something I’m not a fan of. It wrapped up too neatly with everyone finding out the villain was shot and that everything was okay. Also, I was annoyed that the villain shifted in the middle. All of the family conflict that would have been inevitable had it really been Jesse’s dad was avoided. What a copout!

Also, I was really annoyed with the epilogue. I mean it’s nice that the whole family stayed in New York for Maggie’s sake but it’s pretty unrealistic.

Plotholes: 2/5

Not a fan of the limited role of certain adults (ahem, Maggies’ parent’s I’m looking at you). Nor was I fan of the ending. Or the epilogue. 

Overall Rating:3/5

It was a sweet and cute read with quirky, interesting dialogue and cool characters but it was nothing really special. This is more of a beach read than anything else. Nothing thought-provoking or profound in here but it was a fun read while it lasted.

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