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Book Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

After Angelo left, I circled the park once to see if there were any new locks that I hadn’t seen yet. They were still the same  though, simple and easy to access, and I knocked back the rest of my espresso, spilling a drop on my white shirt (of course), and head hoe.

My mom called when I was two blocks away from the loft. At first I didn’t even realize it was my pone that was ringing. It was a new disposable cell that had some crazy German-dance-rave ringtone, and by the time I finally  got it out of my bag, I was mortified.

“Where are you?”

“I went to see a friend,” I said. “A friend” is what we call Angelo over the phone. “He bought me magazines with teenage girls in them.

“How nice,” She totally wasn’t paying attention. “How was school?”

“Wow,” I said, “how weird is that question coming out of your mouth?”

“It’s definite odd,” she agreed, “and you didn’t answer it.”
 My jacket flapped a little in the breeze from the river, and I tried to button it with one hand. 

“Frustrating,”I told her. “I didn’t see him yet.”

“Really? Why not?”

“Because there are a thousand people at that school : I exploded. “And apparently he ditches a lot, so if you want me to meet him, then I guess I’m going to have to start smoking really bad weed in some back alley with all the other delinquents, or whatever it is that he does!” I sighed and shoved my hair to of my face. Stupid bangs. “This is difficult, okay? 

It requires a little precision. I’m safecracking a person. I gotta figure out the code before I’m in.”

“Honey, we have to submit a report to the Collective by Friday-“

“I know!” I cried. “You think I don’t know that? I’m very aware that this whole thing is on me, thank you very much.:


“Sorry,” I said immediately. “Look, I can do this. I can do this better than anyone because I am a spy, okay? I am a great spy and- and something is licking me.

There was a definite wetness on my calf and I glanced down to see a huge, shaggy golden retriever pushing his nose against my leg, then giving me a big doggie grin. I had seen this dog somewhere before, and I looked from the dog to his leash to his very cute owner.

Oh no, I suddenly realized, my heartbeat flying into overdrive. Oh no, oh no, oh no.

“So,” Jesse Oliver said, “what’s this about being a great spy?”
Being a prodigy safecracker and second generation spy has it’s perks: travel, parents with awesome jobs, avoiding high school and all the drama that goes with it. However, when the Collective decides that Maggie is old enough for her first solo job, it’s off to New York City, and an exclusive high school to spy on Jesse Oliver, son of a high powered media magnet who it’s rumored has stories that could ruin the collective and place Maggie’s parents and friends in jeopardy. Yet can pulling off the biggest jobs around the world have prepared her for high school, being a real friend, and a secret threat to Maggie herself?

Robin Benway (Aubrey, Wait) writes a funny and light spy mystery in Also Known As. Margaret (aka Maggie aka Peggy aka Maisie aka Polly aka) has been cracking safes since she was three and unlocked combination locks instead of playing with toys. Raised by her master-spy parents and always on the move from job to job, Maggie knows that her life will be one of a spy- can’t think of anything else. And she’s yearning for the day when she has her first solo job. Yet when it comes- it’s HIGH SCHOOL?!?!  Spying on a high school boy and getting information is not what she had in mind, and neither was gaining a best friend, or getting her first kiss from her mark, or any of the other complications that come her way.  The relationship really make this story, and the chemistry between Roux, Maggie and Jesse as well as the family bonds between Maggie, her parents, and Angelo make this a definite read. Those looking for hard spy stories should look elsewhere, but those looking something to pair with Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series or Heist Society series will fall in love with Maggie and her crew.  4 out of 5 stars.  Would also be perfect lighter read for the Collaborate Summer Reading Program, adding it into a booklist for spies with the Beneath the Surface theme.  As of March 22, Goodreads lists Also Known As as 3.87 out of 5 stars.

Also Known As was hysterical and I laughed through out the book. The situations that Maggie gets into, as well as her reactions to what would be a “normal” high school experience cracked me up, and seem totally realistic with the mindset that Maggie has no interaction with any other teenagers. Roux was sweet and wonderful, and you can’t help but ache for her when you learn of her situation.

The huge twist in the story (the second danger, not the issue with Jesse or his dad) creeps in slowly but hits with such force that it leaves you turning the page, and wanting to know what happens next.  The fact that it’s a huge betrayal also hits hard, and the ending while seeming a little forced and pulled together, makes me hope that there are other books in the works.

And I am really glad that the cover of the ARC was NOT the finished cover for the book, as the creepy clone girls weirded me out and I did NOT know how I was going to sell that to teens.

More spies, villains and criminal masterminds .  . .