Sleuth or Dare by Robin Benway (#2 in the Also Known As series) (Simon & Schuster UK, 27 February 2014)
SLEUTH OR DARE (published as GOING ROGUE in the US) is an enjoyable sequel to SPY SOCIETY/ALSO KNOWN AS, though not quite as good as the first book.
Teenage spy Maggie Silver is about to start her second year of high school in New York, when her parents are falsely accused of stealing priceless gold coins. To clear her parents' names, she must use her safecracking skills to retrieve the coins from Dominic Arment, the person who's really stolen them. But when her whole family is put into danger because of her actions, she has to escape to Paris with her boyfriend, Jesse, and her best friend, Roux, to come up with a plan to defeat Dominic once and for all.
The stakes are a lot higher in this book but ultimately the book's still trying to stay on the light-hearted side; what with some of the events in this book I would have appreciated more moments of profound emotion and introspection, but I feel like this book never tries to dig very deep.
I think my favourite thing about this book was that we got to see Jesse and Maggie's relationship, almost a year since they started dating each other. They're still absolutely adorable and Jesse is so cheesy and sweet and I love the comfort they find in each other. But they also have their moments of doubt and insecurity. I would really have liked to see that emotion explored further. Jesse's got such a good heart, although I think he's reduced to merely being Maggie's boyfriend in this book. I honestly don't know who he is outside of being Maggie's boyfriend anymore.
I don't know if Roux got to be as awesome as she was in the previous book. She got to really kick ass in the last one, but she didn't really do that much in this sequel, I feel. I mean, she's funny as always and she and Maggie still have such a great friendship but I would have loved to see them have more deep conversations together.
I really loved finding out more about Maggie's parents and how they met and fell in love! Maggie's parents are seriously awesome.
A few new characters are introduced quite late in the book and although they seem interesting, they're barely developed – and as the new characters include a love interest for Roux, I would really have loved to spend a bit more time with these characters and get to know them better. As such, their presence in the book seem kind of unnecessary and I didn't feel like they actually added much to the book. I feel like I know nothing about Roux's love interest, Ames – and they were totally in love with each other the moment they met.
The plot was intriguing to start with but I felt like the climax was rushed and underwhelming. I think what I really loved about the first book was the sense that Maggie and Roux and Jesse were really working together and it was the three of them facing these dangers, the three of them on their own with only each other to rely on. But the cast of characters expanded in this book and by the end it seemed like there were just too many people running around. I think I enjoy the series a lot more when it's just Maggie and Roux and Jesse.
Overall, SLEUTH OR DARE is fun but superficial. I was expecting more character development after the first book, but instead I feel like it's actually a step-down from the first book in terms of character depth. Still, it's a cute and light spy novel that's effortlessly entertaining and worth a read, even if it lacks in depth.