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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
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Review: Only The Good Spy Young

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter. Disney Hyperion. 2010. Personal Copy.blogger 201x300 Review: Only The Good Spy Young

The Plot: Life is never boring for Cammie Morgan, Gallagher Girl and spy-in-training. Winter vacation in London with her friend Bex turns into something more. No, really, something much more, even for Cammie. She is going to need all her skills, all her talent, and all her friends to figure out who to trust.

The Good: Cammie Morgan and the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women (AKA a school for super spies) were introduced in I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You. Cammie juggled spy school, friendships, and secretly dating Josh, a town boy who knows nothing about spies or spy schools. Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy introduced a new layer to Cammie’s world: boy spies from the Blackthorne Institute including a maddening, heart pounding, annoying, (and so cute!) Zach. Cammie and friends prevent a kidnapping in Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover.

The Gallagher Girls are best read in order. Cammie falls for Josh in book one and then Zach enters the picture, which is GREAT. One of my pet peeves with books (any books, not just young adult) is the “first guy is The One” theory of romance. (I won’t waste your time with my rant on that, but it’s a doozy!) It’s terrific that Cammie can fall for a guy, kiss him, have feelings for him and, then, well, life happens and it doesn’t work out and that’s OK and there are other cute guys out there.

The Gallagher Girls — the girls themselves — continue to rock. How many books have a school were the students love school? Study because they want to? OK, they’re studying Covert Options BUT STILL. This is a book were learning is cool and exciting and matters.

While some elements of the storyline that takes center stage for Only the Good Spy Young were in the first book (Cammie’s father died on a mission, teacher and family friend Joe Solomon) other elements (the Blackthorne Institute, the Circle of Cavan) are introduced later. Each book is a stand alone adventure, but each book also builds on the one before which is why they are best read in sequence.  All of Carter’s fabulous touches remain (humor, great characters, fast plot, inventive storytelling) but a seriousness is being added to the series. Cammie is getting older and realizing spying is not all fun and games. Oh, she knew from what happened to her father that spies die. What she is learning now is that spying (and what it takes to become a spy) is more than what is taught in the Gallagher Academy. Sometimes, it is ugly; and sometimes, there is betrayal. Carter is introducing shades of gray to a story that began very black and white. Yes, these are books about teen spies, but they are also books about teens, and teens grow up. Cammie is growing up, realizing there is much more to her world, and I’m looking forward to what happens next.

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Jen McIntosh says:

    This series has been exactly what I needed, when I needed it. I was able to read the first two while my kids were rolling around the floor. They were fun (the books) and I could easily read them. The 3rd and 4th are a bit darker and deeper and … exactly what I need right now! I’ve gotten much better at ignoring my children so I can read more thoughtful books. :-) I love how this series perfectly exemplifies growing up–going from lighthearted black & white boy problems to someone’s trying to kill us problems, all the while keeping the fun. I’m really looking forward to the next one too.

  2. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Jen, what I love is how Carter is going darker and deeper but keeping the fun and the sheer inventiveness of it all. So it’s fun-dark.

  3. Jen McIntosh says:

    I like that! Fun-dark. That should be a new genre. ;-)

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