Friday, February 5, 2010


by Ally Carter
May 1st 2006 by Hyperion
Hardcover, 284 pages

Placement In Pile: Maybe Middle of the Stack (if I'm being generous)

The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, while the Gallagher Academy might say it's a school for geniuses what they really mean is spies.

But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn't have a code name? Cammie Morgan may be fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti), but the Gallagher Academy hasn't prepared her for what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without him ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she's doing something riskier than ever—she's falling in love.

I've been interested in reading this one for a while, seeing how it got a big deal, it's a NYT bestseller, it's being made into a movie, etc. etc. The premise sounded so fun and interesting and exciting. The reality? In my opinion, it fell short. Like really short.

First of all, the voice felt like middle-grade to me, not YA at all. Was I wrong in thinking this was a YA book? Cammie feels like a twelve-year-old, or maybe thirteen to me, with how she narrates this. Not a sophomore in high school. And there was at least one "aside" in ( ) on every page. It drove me nuts! Not to mention all the other things I've been taught are "mistakes" in writing that supposedly won't even get you an agent, let alone a publishing deal. So that all distracted from the story for me.

The actual plotline was cute, but nothing stellar to me. I actually had to make myself keep reading it, because I hate not finishing a book. It wasn't awful by any means, it was very cute at times. It just wasn't great. It didn't grip my attention, all of the spy "jokes" about everything the Gallagher girls have supposedly done throughout the last two hundred years got old after a while (for me), and despite the interesting and unique premise, it felt formulaic. It just wasn't what I'd been hoping for. So, if you're in the mood for something VERY light and silly with not much substance, this is the one for you. Or maybe your 6th grader. (But maybe I'm not the best to judge, I was reading Jurassic Park and Pride & Prejudice and Gone with the Wind and etc. in 5th & 6th grade... )

I've seen mixed reviews on this one though, some people loved it, and lots felt the same as me. What did you think? And are the sequels even worth bothering with? (AKA do they get better? or stay about the same?)


Aubrey (AKA Stacey) said...

Thanks for the review. I have seen good things about the second one, and that made me interested in starting with this one...maybe I will get to it some day, but it certainly isn't on the top of my list for now.

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Great review! I definitely felt like this was a light airy read too, though enjoyable all the same. I've read the second book in the series too, and they both feel on the shallow end of YA. So not my favorite series, but it's nice for a quick read. :)

I'm Erin said...

Ohhh I'm so intrigued! Do you have the ARC or did you buy this one? If you have the Arc, can I borrow it?

I have it on my To Read list. I have read a few lately that had really young voices for YA, which I always think is wierd especially if there's any sort of kissing. Because who wants to make out with a 13 year old? (Well, besides that whacko teacher Mary Kay Laturno...ha ha)

Anyway, great review. I'm quite intrigued.

Oh...p.s. I read Jessica's guide to dating the Dark Side
last night and I thought of you. I think you'll like it!

Shawna said...

I've only read the first two books. I thought they were just teen books and not YA. I did think the second one was better than the first.

Guinevere said...

Erin: No ARC, this one was published quite a while ago. I just checked it out from the library. I'm surprised you're so intrigued about wanting to read it, since I didn't really love it that much! ;-) I've had JEssica's Guide on my list for a while, I guess I'd better read it now that you say you think I'd like it so much!

Shawna: I just double-checked on PM to make sure I'm not wrong, and it was sold as Children's: Young Adult, so...?? I just feel like the voice of the main character was a VERY young YA. I may have to try and second one to see if it is a little bit better. Thanks for the comment!