Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ARC Review: Also Known As


Also Known As by Robin Benway
4.5/5 stars
Walker & Company, 2013
369 pages
YA Comedy Mystery
Scheduled to release February 26

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've had mixed success with Robin Benway's writing, DNF-ing Audrey, Wait! due to its profanity but adoring The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June. I was hoping my reaction to this book would be similarly positive and I am pleased to report that it is.

I found almost everything about this book delightful from our enchanting protagonist Maggie learning to negotiate high school for the first time as an undercover spy to her new best friend to the cute boy to her parents to the rest of the spy cabal. For years, Maggie and her parents have traveled around the world using their spy tactics for good. But now Maggie is taking the lead on a case while also posing as just any other high schooler to humorous effect.

In general, I found this book to be hilarious as Maggie definitely has a quick wit and she struggles to fit in (adjusting to homework is not easy!) Her new friend is a former mean girl and the cute boy is also the son of the target. Needless to say there are many complications but Maggie deals with them mostly with grace and as much honesty as she can. I really loved her and her parents, who have to take a backseat while their beloved daughter is out there-not easy for them all. I loved that spying is a family business, something that brings them together and allows them to appreciate each other's strengths.

My one quibble, which led to a deletion of half a star, was the conclusion to the big mystery which felt a bit too pat and rushed. I like that everything was concluded in this book instead of being drawn out over a series but I did still feel like a few scenes were perhaps excessive and that a tighter focus on the mystery would have been more appropriate. I almost forgot the family's reason for being in New York; after reading about Maggie adjusting to school, it almost seemed like the sole purpose was to acclimate her to a "normal" life.

Overall: Recommended for fans of Ally Carter's Heist Society series, when you just can't get enough of fun light fast-paced stories about spies.

Other Opinions:
Great Imaginations-3/5 stars
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics

26 comments:

  1. Awesome review! Also Known As looks brilliant and I'll definitely be adding it to my TBR pile! :D

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  2. I just finished this one. Totally agree with the ending. All this build up and no why. Left me a bit disappointed. Great review.

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    1. I know, right? If the ending had just been a bit stronger, I could have given this a perfect five stars for being so pleasing.

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  3. Oooh, I like the sounds of this one. Maggie sounds like a great character. Great review. I am definitely going to have to keep an eye for it.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

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    1. Hope you can get a copy soon-it's such a fun light read!

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  4. I really enjoyed Robin Benway's other books, but I didn't know she was coming out with a new one. This is awesome news! And I'm glad to hear that you liked it!

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    1. So glad to share this with you :) Hope you enjoy it if you pick it up!

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  5. I love Heist Society and I loved Robin's previous two books -- so this review gets me VERY excited for Also Known As. I love that you mention spying as a family business -- that should make for an interesting dynamic. Also, I am glad to hear this one is funny as well. Sucks about the resolution but I love that there aren't cliffhangers.

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    1. Spying as a family business is an interesting business-I would like to read some other books with that as a plot point (also families in the mob-maybe I need to rewatch The Godfather?)

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  6. I was also surprised that this was a standalone. I was completely expecting a series. But I loved the humor and also think her books also have a lot of heart.

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    1. There's definitely room for it to become a series though so I have my fingers crossed! I like that you mention heart because I think that's one of the reasons it appealed to me although I wasn't able to put my finger on it.

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  7. Reading about Maggie navigating high school sounds great, and glad that you came away with positive from this one like APril, May and June (which I have but still need to read)
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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    1. You should definitely check out April, May, and June! Although I think it's been 2+ years since I read it, I still have very positive memories of it.

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  8. I just finished this one a couple of days ago. I agree about the ending, too. It did become too easy to forget why they were in New York. I really enjoyed it overall, though!

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    1. Right? There were ostensibly high stakes but I wasn't really feeling it.

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  9. This one sounds fun but I have a hard time buying into teenage spies. I know it's not supposed to be taken so seriously but I can't help it for some reason.

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    1. I understand not being able to take that seriously. I'm pretty credulous so that's rarely a problem for me.

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  10. I actually loved Audrey, Wait! but haven't read her other book. I do really want to read this one and your review has me convinced I definitely need to give it a read! I had seen a DNF review so I'm feeling better about it now.

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    1. I think it will definitely depend on your mood. Are you looking for a funny novel as a palate cleanser between darker, heavier, longer reads? Then this would fit the bill!

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  11. I love Ally Carter's Gallagher Girl's series and this sounds similar so it peaked my interest. Seems fun and I love a good stand alone but it's too bad the ending was rushed. Maggie seems like a great MC.

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    1. Maggie was so much fun! I only read the first two Gallagher Girls books but I think these have a similar vibe.

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  12. Yeah, I liked this one but I didn't love it. If you haven't you should try reading Audrey, Wait. I think it's her best book so far.

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    1. I didn't like it when I tried it some years ago but I do love YA novels more now so maybe it will be a better read for me.

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  13. I'm always up for a good spy story. This sounds cute. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for it.

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    1. It is so cute-just what I was in the mood to read!

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