Going Rogue (Also Known As #2) – Robin Benway

Action, Best "best friends", families, Female Leads, love, Middle Grade Romance, Safe Bets, Series, spies, Young Readers

In this second novel of the Also Known As series focused on the average family out the outside, super spies on the inside, we find 16-year-old Maggie in a good place.  She still loves living in New York, her best friend Roux, and her boyfriend Jesse.  She has great parents (spies) and a friend-uncle (also a spy) and her skills at opening safes are amazingly honed.

……. and of course that can’t last…….

Soon her parents are facing false accusations of stealing and Maggie must face her next challenge without them.  Don’t worry for our girl though, she’s a quick thinker and has a new team to help her.  This tale takes us to Paris, a new twist with the Collective, and also the typical high school challenges that Maggie, Roux, and Jesse face – as well as the secret world that awaits our favorite spy family.  Maggie is a little more experienced than the first novel and faces more grown up issues once she is on her own.  However, she is still a character with heart who puts the protection of her friends and family above her own.

It’s a safe series that keeps the reader’s attention.  Roux is, thankfully, a voice of realism and sarcasm and even she finds some happiness and acceptance in this sequel.  The intrigue continues not only throughout this book, but enough that I will continue with the series (as soon as there is word on Book #3, which there isn’t as of today).  It’s funny, smart, loyal, and adds adventure and mystery.


Also Known As – Robin Benway



Secret teenage spy with the skill of safe cracking mixed with all teenage angst of clothes, friends, and a crush – but written better than it sounds.

Maggie has multiple names, dozens of passports, and parents who are international spies.  To say the least, her upbringing was not a typical one.  She is skilled at breaking into locks, safes, and any obstacle: all but high school. Her assignment is to befriend a high school boy, Jesse Oliver, to get to his father’s article about The Collective, the spy group that Maggie and her parents work for.  Of course along the way, she realizes she’s never had a “normal” teenage experience and the story has a nice balance of high school entertainment (friends, parties, boys) and spy gadgets and adventures.

This is another book nominated for the Arkansas Teen Book Award, which, yes, is why I began it, but it’s light enough chick-lit YA that I didn’t mind reading it.  Maggie is on her first lead assignment.  She must attend an expensive private school on the Upper East Side, a’la Gossip Girl.  She befriends an outcast and quickly gets a crush on her assignment, but there’s more to the story than that.  Maggie has intense loyalty and Roo (yes, as in Kanga & Roo) is a hilarious friend – if you can see past the fact she is alone and forgotten by her Upper East Side parents, a cuss machine (who is working on it with a swear jar with her doorman, the closest she has to a daily person in her life), and drinks a lot.

Cussing and drinking.

I’m not a prude when it comes to cussing and drinking in YA books, but I also like to know when they exist.  This isn’t as much cussing as Reality Boy (which was great), but know it’s there – and this is certainly a book geared for girls…. kick awesome, spy, smart, savvy girls.   Don’t let the cussing keep you away.

Sequel: Going Rogue 

All Fall Down: Book One of Embassy Row -Ally Carter

Action, families, Female Leads, revenge, Series

all fall down

Grace is the grand daughter of the American ambassador and has returned to live with her Grandfather 3 years after her mother’s death – a death that only Grace knows the real cause: Murder.  As the only witness, Grace is haunted by her mother’s death, which other’s believe was an accident.  No one believes her – not her grandfather, not the police, not anyone who can help her on Embassy Row.

That is, until she meets some new friends and reunites with another child of Embassy Row. Besides mystery concerning Grace’s mother’s death, is the mystery of the tunnels beneath the city and the men who Grace accidentally comes across and hear’s plan for another killing.  As Grace and her new cohorts, the few who do believe her, explore the city, hack into computers, and follow the man with the scar, one can assume that soon this secret surrounding Grace’s mother’s death will of course include the politicians.  The book, after all, is the beginning of a series called “Embassy Row” so I think our curious international characters will become quite the spy team.

What’s nice about this mystery is the group of friends that comes together, from different countries, of different races, and of different ages.  They speak of Embassies, and of their homes, as the country their parents or grandparents represent, which means we get comical passages like [paraphrasing here] “I look up and I’m in Iran” or ‘I crossed the wall from Canada to Germany’.

There were some twists with who the good guys were verses who the bad guys were and it ends with a little mystery.  This would interest those who like mysteries or conspiracies.

Sequel:  See How They Run