Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks Bloomsbury!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]
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. (from Goodreads)
The first word that comes to mind when I think about this book is hilarious. I laughed a lot while I was reading Also Known As, and I consider that a major bonus when I'm reading. I loved this story, which should come as no surprise since it's full of elements that appeal to me - a main character that I could relate to, a set of friends that I totally would want to have in my life, parents that are pretty much the epitome of awesome, and a fun mystery to solve. This book is the book that I didn't know I was craving until I read it - and I'm so glad that I did!
I'm partial to books where I connect well with the main character. I absolutely loved Maggie! She was refreshingly honest with herself, and so funny when she was thinking about things like high school and "normal" life. I loved that I felt like we shared the same brain sometimes, because her reactions and her thoughts are so much like mine. Plus, she's totally cool for knowing how to crack safes and for the mere fact that she's a living, breathing spy.
I totally want to have Maggie's friends in this book as my friends in real life. Her mentor and family friend Angelo was so cool, and obviously very talented (and you'll have to read the book to find out what that talent happens to be!). He often helped her deal with problems that cropped up, and just provided a listening ear whenever she needed it. The way they set up meetings is pretty darn cool too!
And then there's Roux, who is the wild card and Maggie's first friend at school. She's a bit of a loner because of an incident at school, but she's really a kind person who's just misunderstood. It's nice to see how well she and Maggie get along, even though she's tons more exuberant and definitely more well-versed in real, regular, high school life than Maggie is.I thought her character definitely had some witty lines, and she added to the humor in the book with her antics! Her name is really cool too.
Maggie's parents were also pretty great characters. They're awesome, first of all, because they happen to be spies too! They have their specialties, and I think it's fun how each of them (her mom, her dad and Maggie) all have talents that lie in different areas. What I loved most was how they were both typical and unusual as parents. They were unusual in terms of their career choices and what they encouraged Maggie to do, but they were also typical in terms of worrying about Maggie and her safety, as well as trying to set house rules and the like during this case.
There's one more character that needs to be mentioned - Jesse Oliver. Yes, he sounds cute and yes, that's a name that certainly rolls off the tongue. But, honestly, their relationship felt like things were getting a bit serious too quickly, which is probably why I feel a little indifferent towards him. It was hard to be too annoyed with it though because he does have a great personality, and considering Maggie had never really been in one place or with kids her age for too long, I could understand the immediate fascination.
The book's biggest draw was the whole promise of spies and a mystery. The mystery was fun to read about, considering I figured nothing out if Maggie wasn't able to. Though it was decidedly simple in terms of objective, I like how it appeared to be something that was complicated to solve. Maggie had her fair share of trouble figuring out the solution to the mystery, and it was interesting to read about the case.
I've never read anything from Robin Benway before, and I now consider that a tragedy as I enjoyed Also Known As so very much. This book is laugh out loud funny, packed with superb characters and possesses a plot that kept me eager to read from start to finish. I highly recommend you grab a copy of your own!