August 28, 2014 • Cee • Reviews

Robin Benway - Also Known AsAlso Known As by Robin Benway
February 26, 2012
Walker Books for Young Readers
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Which is more dangerous: being an international spy… or surviving high school?

Maggie Silver has never minded her unusual life. Cracking safes for the world’s premier spy organization and traveling the world with her insanely cool parents definitely beat high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. (If it’s three digits, why bother locking it at all?)

But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York City for her first solo assignment, her world is transformed. Suddenly, she’s attending a private school with hundreds of “mean girl” wannabes, trying to avoid the temptation to hack the school’s elementary security system, and working to befriend the aggravatingly cute son of a potential national security threat… all while trying not to blow her cover.

From the hilarious and poignant author of Audrey, Wait! comes a fast-paced caper that proves that even the world’s greatest spies don’t have a mission plan for love.

First sentence: “I cracked my first lock when I was three.”

What a funny and delightful book! I love spy books, but recently, I’ve been apprehensive about picking one up because I’ve been burned by one that angered me sooo much. However, I absolutely adored Also Known As. It is about a girl, Maggie, on her first solo-spy assignment, adjusting to life as a regular teenage girl in New York City while making sure her cover and the Collective’s cover aren’t blown. Two things I loved: the humor and the friendships! I frequently found myself grinning at all the characters’s sass and squealing at how adorable the friendships happened. There wasn’t a lot of heavy dose of spy stuff that forced you to suspend your disbelief, which I appreciated.

Four Things Maggie Does That A Spy Shouldn’t Do

  • Have a sense of humor.

Usually, you see or read about a spy whose internal dialogue seems very serious and focused on what they’re doing. A comedic line may pop out, but there’s no funny business. At least, those are the ones I’ve read.

Maggie is not that type of spy. She’s a safe cracker. The best one there is. And she is hilarious. She’d wail about the being stuck with petty teenage girls and relate it to cannibals, or complaining about the portrayal of spies in popular culture. Everybody in this book is funny. The parents. Angelo, a non-related Uncle who’s a forger. Jesse, the love interest. And Roux, a girl who Maggie befriends, too! She’s such a delight. When you put Maggie and Roux together, their dialogue exchange will make you laugh.

  • Make friends. For reals.

One of the rules in the spy business? Never make actual friends when you’re on an assignment because you will get attached and that’s not good for a spy. But guess who breaks that rule? Maggie does. It’s not like she intended to; it just sort of happened. And how it happened is hilarious! I think it was rather sweet how Maggie and Roux became friends.

Roux, a social outcast and a former mean girl, is roped into helping Maggie out with her lack of social prowess. And somehow, the two girls who never had any friends become just that. And it’s wonderful and heartwarming, and I just want to hug everybody because it made me emotional. I love friendships!

  • Fall in love with your target.

Oh boy, this is like a cardinal sin. Bad things (like heartache and betrayal) will happen, but lucky for Maggie, she dodges a bullet with Jesse. I tend to dislike romances in Young Adult, but in Also Known As, I found it adorable. Maggie and Jesse are so endearing when they interact with each other. There’s a bit of awkwardness on Maggie’s part because she has no idea how to act with the boy she likes (since she’s never experienced anything like it in her life as a spy), but that makes their romance even sweeter.

  • Jeopardize a mission. 

Maggie’s objective: to retrieve documents from Jesse’s father that may reveal the Collective and the agents under them. But do things go wrong? Yes. Plenty of things do. (Some, you have read about it already.) Her skills are questioned after she fails to obtain the documents, and that doesn’t bode well for her self-esteem.

She also decides [spoiler]to tell Roux and Jesse that she’s a spy towards the end of the book, which is something you shouldn’t do. She’s known them a few weeks. It’s kind of naive and dangerous, but at the same time, it’s kind of heartwarming that she trusts them a lot to keep her secret and help her out. [/spoiler] Still, she’s jeopardizing her mission because what if they were spies too? Maggie doesn’t know that!


Also Known As is just a fun spy book. Though, at times, it feels like a regular contemporary, instead of a strictly spy-focused book with gadgets and double crosses and action scenes, which made certain scenes that are spy-centric, feel a bit sudden. However, I was okay with that. The book essentially deals with how a girl who’s been in the spy business all her life adjusts to being a regular teenager.

If you adored The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, give Also Known As a chance. It has awesome characters, beautiful friendships, and humor!  gradeA-



4 Responses to “REVIEW | Also Known As by Robin Benway”

  1. Kaja says:

    Oh, this sounds cool! I really liked Ally Carter’s series and I though about it even before I read your recommendation at the end of the post. I’ll be checking this one out for sure!

  2. Eeep, you gave this an A-! I think I should really read it now. I like that Maggie is not a conventional spy and make friends and falls in love. Yes, totally my kind of a book.

    I really wanted to read Audrey, Wait! this summer and I just might.

  3. Whaaaat, A-?! Now that’s high praise coming from you, dayum, I didn’t expect it to be that high even when you told me about it. I MUST READ IT.

    I loveee that Maggie has a sense of humour, those are my favourite kind of people and I am excited the other characters are funny too! Also I am so here for friendships. Meh about romance though but maybe I won’t hate it. It works in the love interest’s favour his name is Jesse. I like Jesses lol.

  4. I had so much fun reading this book! The second one, Going Rogue is just as good. :D

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