Book Review | Also Known As | Robin Benway

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review | Also Known As | Robin BenwayAlso Known As by Robin Benway
Series: Also Known As #1
Published by Bloomsbury on February 26, 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA, Spies, Young Adult
Pages: 308
Format: eARC
Also in this series: Going Rogue
Also by this author: Going Rogue, Emmy & Oliver
Source: the publisher via NetGalley
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
four-stars

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.

ALSO KNOWN AS by Robin Benway is just about the most fun that you can have reading a book, friends. The characters are spunky and fun and likable, the action is fast-paced but not overwhelming, and the writing is snappy. Plus, SPIES. Criminals of a FUN nature. There’s a romance, too, and it’s cute. Most importantly in ALSO KNOWN AS, though, is ROUX. Roux the Magnificent. I liked this whole book, friends, but Roux made it for me. Roux, I loved. Ahem. Anyway, Robin Benway’s book about a family of spies whose daughter, Maggie, goes on her first solo assignment, is pretty dang enjoyable.

So the gist of ALSO KNOWN AS is this: Maggie and her parents are super international spies, which is AWESOME. They never stay in one place too long because they are always hopping around, working their spy magic for The Collective. Maggie herself is basically the best safe-cracker IN THE WORLD. She’s also never gone to a real school or had any friends. That is, until The Collective sends her family to NYC so that Maggie can work a different kind of magic on the son of Armand Oliver, a publishing magnate who has come into possession of a list of Collective agents and is going to print it. The son, one Jesse Oliver, is Maggie’s mark, but he’s also mad cute and charming, and between her growing feelings for Jesse, her AMAZE friendship with school outcast Roux, and, HELLO, ACTUAL SCHOOL, her first job is turning out to be more difficult than Maggie imagined.

I know that I’ve been gushing about Roux, but I actually want to start by shouting out Robin Benway for giving Maggie parents who are actual PARENTS who have a role in Maggie’s life. This is a pretty big deal, as any long-time, frequent reader of YA will know. They aren’t so much main characters, but they are present for sure. And she gets along with them! GASP! AND! Guys, Maggie gets GROUNDED. I can’t even. When was the last time you guys read a book where the MC gets GROUNDED!? I seriously wracked my brain and could think of NO GROUNDINGS, which is amazing enough on its own considering how many times in HS I was grounded, and how much trouble most YA MCs get up to in the books we read. Props to Robin Benway for keeping it real.

Since I started with the parents, let me take this opportunity to shout out the OTHER awesome adult in ALSO KNOWN AS: Angelo. He’s great in a really mysterious way. I can’t lie, guys: I totally suspected him for at least two thirds of the book. Am I the only one? But I liked very much that Maggie had another adult that she relied on and trusted and could talk to. So many awesome adults in this book! Her parents are great and as normal as uber-spies can be, and her father-figure person is super, too. I really enjoyed the conversations that Maggie had with Angelo about falling in love with a mark (Angelo fell in love with one himself despite the rules, and so he and Maggie have lots of great stuff to talk about). I loved how supportive the adults were of Maggie, and their positive relationships were legit.

You guys, I can’t even hold out any longer. I MUST tell you about Roux, although I don’t know how my words can do justice to her awesome. You’ll just have to read ALSO KNOWN AS and then you will understand. Roux is one of those hard Chips Ahoy cookies on the outside who’s actually a Keebler Soft Batch on the inside. Her personality just FLIES off the page, smacks you in the face, laughs at you, says something witty and mildly insulting, and saunters off to go drink vodka disguised as water. She’s so sarcastic and funny. I want more Roux. Robin Benway should write all the books about Roux. She’s got her own drama going on at school and at home (she’s got mean girl issues and absent parent issues) too, and I enjoyed reading about how she was trying to BAMF her way through it all. ROUX ILY FOREVER.

But listen, even though Roux was my favorite character in ALSO KNOWN AS, ALL of the characters were great, including the Boy, Jesse. The romance between him and Maggie is cute and mildly swoony. I have to say, though, that the dialogue in ALSO KNOW AS in general was probably my favorite part. It’s the reason that I love Roux so much, and it’s the main reason I enjoyed reading about Jesse and Maggie’s flirty cute thing they’ve got going on. I LOVE BANTER. I love it hard core, and they know how to roll with the fast, flirty back and forth. The “get to KNOW the cute boy to get close to his dad who is suspicious” plot line is kind of a cliché, but I’ll forgive because I would read about the two of them having one of their conversations any time.

Probably my least favorite thing about ALSO KNOWN AS is the bad guy. I hate when the bad guys in books are basically afterthoughts. It’s not to say that the bad guy isn’t a presence for the whole book because he’s always there, floating in the background. But my peeve is that, one, the bad guy in ALSO KNOWN AS is essentially random; and two, the end, where this person is found and captured, takes about one chapter. This is basically my only issue.

I can’t recommend Robin Benway’s ALSO KNOWN AS enough, friends. Especially if you’re in the mood for something fun, kind of light but not fluffy, with excellent dialogue and memorable characters. Or even if you’re not looking for those things! I’d still be all, “OMG have you read ALSO KNOWN AS yet?!”

Check out these other reviews of Also Known As by Robin Benway!

April @ Good Books and Good Wine: “Seriously, I just loved reading the conversations between the two and was like, please please banter for the whole book AND THEN have a three way banter session with Roux.”

Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books: “This book is the book that I didn’t know I was craving until I read it – and I’m so glad that I did!”

Merin @ Read and Reviewed: “I pretty much had a giant smile on my face the entire time I was reading.”

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Comments

  1. I loved Angelo too-such a great adult! I didn’t even suspect him-I just thought he was too awesome.
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  2. Roux made this story for me, too! She had the best lines, and she’s just tooo funny. I loved the whole thing with the doorman. I want to read this book again right now. So glad you enjoyed it.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Review: Wait for You by J. LynnMy Profile

  3. I’m so very glad that you enjoyed this book! It’s pretty darn awesome. I was cracking up most of the time as I read it, which is always a good sign. And I adored Angelo and Roux quite a lot 🙂
    Alexa Y. recently posted…My Trip to the PhilippinesMy Profile

  4. Ahh, THIS REVIEW. AMYYYY. It’s perfect. FIRST. Roux. Oh, Roux. How much did I adore her? I wanted to be BFF’s with her and hug her, but prepare myself for her banter and snarky comments. I LOVED her. She was such a great side character, and if Robin HAPPENED to write a book from her POV, it would be awesome.

    Did you know there’s going to be at least one sequel? I’m really psyched about that, and I’m a girl who likes series, but feels certain there are too many.

    Agreed that the Big Bad needed to be fleshed out more. It did feel tacked on, but the book was still SO much fun. I almost applauded when I saw that the parents were not only AROUND but that they cared!

    Great review, Amy!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  5. I really (surprisingly) enjoyed this one too. I was super nervous about it because I don’t normally love books that are “unrealistic”. I know, I’m boring but this one totally won me over. LOVED ROUX. So much! In my review, I said I pictured her as Rebel Wilson! I need to go back and read Robin’s book after Audrey Wait but before this one…

Trackbacks

  1. […] Umm, because Roux is the character who completely captured me while reading ALSO KNOWN AS. She’s got zest and personality and humor, even though she’s got a past that kind of […]

  2. […] Title: Going Rogue Author: Robin Benway (web | twitter) Series: Also Known As #2 Genre: Contemporary YA, Spies Amazon | Goodreads | B&N Publisher: Walker Childrens Release date: January 14, 2014 Source: ARC from the publisher via NetGalley (Thanks, Walker Childrens!) Related books: Also Known As […]

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