Spies Like Us

Last summer I got really into the Alex Rider books and this summer I can already foresee that my spy reads will probably be the Gallagher Girls books.  I read the first one in an afternoon and there’s a new one coming out at the end of June.  I don’t know what it is about spy stories exactly, but they sure are hilarious fun, especially if there’s spy gadgets.

In case you don’t know the Alex Rider books, this is a YA series by Anthony Horowitz that’s extremely popular across the pond, about a boy who stumbles into becoming an MI-6 spy after the death of his uncle.  All the fun games and activities his uncle did with him growing up seem to have been designed to turn him into the perfect spy.  Each of his adventures is more preposterous than the last.  The eighth book in the series, Crocodile Tears, was just released last winter, so you can imagine how preposterous that one was.  However, there’s something incredibly fun about watching Alex succeed against all odds and with ever more impressive gadgetry.  It’s great how these books hit that familiar YA theme of adults just not getting it, but played grand in life or death situations where MI-6 refuses to give Alex any backup.

The Gallagher Girls books have the same teen spy feel from an American perspective.  However, these books are at least as much romance as adventure.  I admit that the writing wasn’t perfect.  The dialogue isn’t very well done and some of the cleverness just gets a little cutesy.  Actually, there’s a whole silliness factor that needs to be toned down, which is really saying something in a genre that thrives on being silly.  However, the premise was good and there’s potential in the characters.  Each book has an excellent, if lengthy, title.  The one I just finished was called I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You. In it, we follow sophomore Cammie at the prestigious Gallagher Academy, a school for young women to become spies.  There’s not too much real action.  Instead, Cammie finds her first romance with a normal boy who she meets while on a covert ops training mission and must figure out what to do.  Later books in the series apparently present more action for the Gallagher Girls.

And now for my own spy secret.  The writing project I’m working on now is a little bit spy.  Actually, that’s sort of an argument for me to stop watching Spooks reruns and reading spy novels so I can do my own thing.  That probably won’t happen though.

2 thoughts on “Spies Like Us

  1. Hi, Farrar! So happy to finally have my life sufficiently together to read (and comment on!) your wonderful blog. Had to toss in a recommendation for the Gilda Joyce spy books, since they’re written by local author Jennifer Allison and are pretty terrific. (OK, I’ve read only the first one so far. My life isn’t *that* together.) Strong girl hero, too young for romance. Highly entertaining. And the author does workshops now and then at the Spy Museum! (www.gildajoyce.com)

  2. Ooh, middle grades spy novels. They do look fun. I’m finishing another local author’s work as well. Do you know the Lucy Rose books? Review forthcoming. I thought specifically of how you would like them. The first one reminded me a little of a few of the elements in Ethan, Suspended (divorce, move to DC) only much younger.

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