Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review of Also Known As by Robin Benway

Title/Author: Also Known As by Robin Benway
Publisher: Bloomsbury Juvenile US
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Buy It: Amazon / Book Depository

     Being a sixteen-yaer-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.

     Hmmm.... Okay, here we go. This book was absolutely mediocre. Middle-of-the-road. For every thing that I liked about it there's something I strongly didn't. Where should I start?

Robin Benway did a really fantastic job of creating characters that are realistic. The way that they speak to one another and their responses to certain social situations rang true for me. Roux, Jesse, and Maggie behave exactly the way actual teenagers do, which is nice because sometimes I read a novel and all I can think is "Yeah right, because all 17 year olds are this self-aware". Robin Benway's characters screw up, they are shy and nervous, sometimes bold and (hilariously) drunk, and lonely. They're perfect.

On the other hand, being able to write realistic teenagers does not mean that you can thrust them into any old situation and make it seem genuine. I don't know if it's lack of relevant details or being spoiled by very well written caper-type novels (Ally Carters Heist Society, duh) but I just couldn't buy Maggie and her family as spies. Which wouldn't be such a big deal except that it's (obviously) incredibly central to the plot.

Speaking of plot, it was pretty thin and at certain points there were *gasp* holes.

This was a quick read and while I didn't hate it, it didn't exactly leave a mark on me, either. There were a few times where I laughed out loud, and the relationship between Jesse and Maggie is really funny, awkward and lovely (except for the last 1/3 of the book where there are far-too-early in the relationship declarations of love) but overall this book fell flat for me.

I would say that it's worth a read, for sure, but probably pick up a copy at the library before you buy to make sure it's something you'll actually want to bother reading more than once. I know I don't.

**Side note: Robin Benways' Audrey, Wait! was really wonderful, and you should NOT skip that one. : ) **  

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