Publisher: Bloomsbury Juvenile US
Series: AKA #1
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.
Summary from Goodreads.Since Audrey, Wait! is one of my favorite books, and I really, really enjoyed The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June, I had high hopes for Also Known As. Simply put, it did not disappoint. AKA is a fun, fast ride full of wit and espionage. It's lighthearted, but like all of Benway's books, has a lot of heart.
Maggie is one of those protagonists that I want as a best friend. She's clever and fiercely opinionated and completely hysterical. Somehow, she manages to be delightfully dramatic in a teenager kind of way, without being over-the-top angsty. Her best friend, Roux, is also dynamic, to say the least. Seeing Roux's progression over the course of the story is one of the best parts of AKA, which I did not expect. And then there's Jesse. He is adorable, in a make-your-insides-mushy kind of way. It's rare you see a YA love interest so sweet and it's very refreshing.
Last but not least are Maggie's parents (and Angelo, but you should discover him for yourselves. He's the best!). Even though they're spies, they're still protective and dorky. It's also nice to have parents present in a YA book for once, to be honest. Especially parents that are so realistic. If you take away the fact that they can speak a dozen languages, hack complicated computers, and all that other spy stuff, they're still worrywarts who don't want their daughter out late in Manhattan. All of the characters contribute to the abundance of whipfast dialogue and brilliant humor this story has to offer.
The setting of Manhattan is another great aspect of AKA. Benway really captures the feel of the city. I also just like it when books are set in NYC, what can I say? :) It seems like the right place for an espionage story. I love all of the spy elements that are thrown in, references to Luxembourg and other Collective business. In this sense, it reminded me of Ally Carter's books. However, Also Known As is very much its own book.
I can't recommend Also Known As highly enough. Even though the ending wraps up quite nicely, I'm dying to read the next book. The quirky, awesome cast, the adventure, the surprising doses of suspense, the romance, the wit... all of it combines to make one phenomenal story.
*5 stars*Other Books by Robin Benway: Audrey, Wait!, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June
Will you be reading Also Known As?