Also Known As by Robin Benway (#1 in the Also Known As series) (Walker Books, 26 February 2013)
Also Known As is a fun book with surprising emotional power about the difficulties of being a teenage spy, featuring a cute romance and an even cuter female friendship.
Maggie Silver cracked her first safe at the age of four. Her parents are both spies, working on the side of good for an organisation known as the Collective. Maggie has been wishing for some excitement all her life though – sure, she gets to crack the occasional safe, but she's spent all her life moving from place to place, each brief stay involving only long days of sitting around the house doing nothing. Now, finally, Maggie is getting her own mission: attend high school in New York to get close to a boy called Jesse Oliver so she can stop Jesse's father from running a magazine article which will expose members of the Collective. The trouble is, she didn't expect Jesse Oliver to be so cute...
Maggie's voice was so awesome. Authentic, funny, and totally engaging. I fell in love with her from the first page; I couldn't stop grinning. Her voice really manages to carry the entire book.
I was really invested in Maggie's character. This whole spy thing is all she's always known, what she's grown up believing that she would always do, but now she discovers there's so much more to herself than she could ever have realised before she started going to high school and making friends her age, fighting with her parents for the first time and having to keep secrets from them. I found the emotional struggle so real and believable.
And falling in love with a boy for the first time, as well! The romance was incredibly sweet and delightful, with some adorable and even touching scenes between Maggie and Jesse. I actually teared up at one point – I know, it's a light and fluffy book really! But Benway balanced the light-hearted moments with some serious moments that touch on the importance of honesty in a relationship, and I loved it.
Even more than the romance, the friendship between Maggie and Roux was beautiful. Maggie meets Roux on her first day at school. Maggie immediately realises that they're quite similar people, and they slowly become best friends. Roux's parents are never around, and after some incidents the previous year, Roux has become something of a social outcast at school. Maggie and Roux's friendship means so much to the two of them, as they were both very lonely in different ways before they met each other. And they support each other through everything and kick ass for each other in this book. It is so wonderful!
All the spy stuff and the plot was pretty cool too, and it all drew to an intense climax. I enjoyed the entire book so much. I'm super excited to read the sequel, which I bought immediately after I finished reading this one!