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Brie's Corner

Supervillain book reviewer. Lover of secret pains and purple proses. I review over at Romance Around the Corner.

Also Known As

Also Known As - Robin Benway Originally posted at Romance Around the CornerI bought this book on an impulse after reading a couple of favorable reviews. I’m surprised I actually managed to read it, because as much as I’m a fan of impulse buys, I don’t usually read YA stories that sound, well, so juvenile. I’m even more surprised by how much I enjoyed it.Maggie is a 16-year-old spy who, along with her parents, works for a secret organization in charge of stopping criminals. As a talented safe-cracker, her job always involves waiting until her parents are done so she can come in, open the safe and get out. But when their latest target takes them to New York, she becomes the person in charge of the latest assignment: befriending the teenage son of the magazine editor who’s about to expose the entire organization.In order to do so, Maggie enrolls in a prestigious private Manhattan high school; something that seems quite easy at first. Yet once there, she realizes that she lacks the social skills to pass as a regular teenager and that being normal might be the most difficult assignment to date. Worse, the guy she has to befriend (and ultimately betray) is really cute, and the lonely girl she meets on the first day makes her long for friendship and normalcy.Will she be able to complete the assignment and survive high school?This book was plain unadulterated fun. A story about a teenage spy going to high school for the first time can’t be taken too seriously, and the author knows it and rolls with it. On the other hand, a book like this is in danger of being too silly and cheesy for human consumption, even if it’s aimed at a younger audience. But although it comes perilously close to that line, it never crosses it, and the end result is a light story that uses likeable characters and a ridiculous setup to address interesting themes, or at least reinvent some tropes.Maggie is the heart of the book; a big responsibility, for sure, but she can more than handle it. I found her endearing, charming and clever -- just the type of lead you want in a YA book. What makes her truly special, though, is the relationship she develops not only with the love interest, but with former mean-girl turned social pariah, Roux. It was interesting to see a friendship that comes out of necessity and loneliness be so grounded in honesty (even if, yes, Maggie lies to her half the book).The love interest was just as charming. Ms. Benway takes the bad boy and turns him into something authentic and worthy of a book about people pretending to be someone else. Even better, the conflict is directly related to his character and it’s complicated enough to create tension, but manages to avoid predictable resolutions. In fact, these guys could give adult characters a lesson in communication.And finally, parents! You heard me; there are parents in this book, as well as a third parental figure to offer guidance and help. They are present throughout the story, have a say in what the main character is doing, are supportive, and intervene when they have to. Maybe a bit too late, but that’s half of the fun.I can’t find anything bad to say about this book other than it reads really young (as it should). But that’s more about personal taste, so the only thing that stops me from recommending it is that I’m not sure if you guys will like it. But maybe the teenage kids in your life will! It has a sweet romance, interesting characters, and positive role models. If this sounds really good to you, give it a try.