Also Known As
by Robin Benway
Original publication date: February 26, 2013
Length: 318 pages
Publisher: Walker Books
Obtained Via: Purchased
Format Read In: Ebook
Purchase on Amazon:Also Known As
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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.
Also Known As completely charmed me. I was a bit worried going into it–teenage spies? really?–but it won me over in the end. I know the teenage spy books have always been popular, but they’re never really been my thing. However, I really loved the humor in Audrey, Wait!, Robin Benway’s debut novel, so I decided to give it a chance. Even though Also Known As did require some suspension of disbelief, I was relieved to find it never felt ridiculous or over-the-top to me. Looking back, maybe parts should have, but I was enthralled with Maggie’s story enough that I breezed right through those parts.
I really liked the insights into Maggie’s safe-cracking ability. If you’re going to make me believe that this teenage girl really can crack almost any code, you better give me some proof, and, well, Benway did. She showed her intelligence in other ways throughout the novel, even though she definitely slipped up at times(as is understandable).
But even more than Maggie’s spy activities, I really loved the glimpse of this girl who has been anything but normal all along trying to be a normal teenager. She’s a fish out of water from the start, and it doesn’t take long for that to lead to some humorous moments but also some really poignant moments of friendship. I love that strong friendships have been components of both books I’ve read from Robin Benway. I also really liked seeing Maggie’s relationships with her parents in Also Known As. It’s unconventional, due to the nature of their work, but it’s a strong relationship and it’s nice to see parents be so involved in YA.
Jesse Oliver, the love interest, was smile-worthy as well. I loved seeing Maggie interact with a boy she has a potential interest in and trying to figure out HOW to navigate the world of romantic relationships, which is an area she’s had little experience in. Their interactions are sweet and sometimes awkward, but mostly adorable.
Even though there’s some spy activity in this book, it was mostly just a cute read. I think that might disappoint some people who want Also Known As to be a little more, but it was right what I wanted at the time. I read this one after finishing some quite lengthy and serious books, and getting to enjoy Maggie’s world for a little bit was highly enjoyable and amusing. I did have a few minor issues towards the end about how something happens and Maggie doesn’t try to inform her parents, which I think would have taken care of a lot of the problems, but I’ll let it slide since it worked out well in the end.
Also Known As was the perfect light book I needed after a string of heavy reads, and I really enjoyed it! I thought Benway did a good job of making Maggie’s job as realistic as it possibly is to portray a teenage spy, and I really loved the friendship Maggie formed and also the dynamic between her and her parents. 4/5 cupcakes.