Maggie is a safecracking prodigy and the only child of parents who work as spies for an organization called the Collective. When the family relocates to New York City, 16-year-old Maggie lands her first assignment: befriending Jesse, a cute private school boy, to gain access to the e-mail belonging to his magazine editor father, who is suspected to be planning a revealing story about the Collective. As Maggie assimilates into life as a regular teenager, making her first friend and having her first kiss (with Jesse), she wonders if she is cut out to be a spy. Benway (The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June) offers a rollicking take on the "spy kids" premise, buoyed by fun characters like Maggie's irrepressible friend Roux and a well-dressed mentor who is always ready to give Maggie sage advice--or helicopter in to save her. As is common in this genre, realism isn't exactly at the forefront (Maggie eventually draws her friends into the assignment), but readers will be sufficiently invested to see the mission through to completion. Ages 12-up. Agent: Lisa Grubka, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
Gr 8 Up--The premise may seem ridiculous: a teen safecracker, daughter of high-level international spies, has an assignment to befriend a young man whose media-mogul father is planning to expose the "Collective" spy ring and steal his documents. But Benway hits just the right notes to make this premise almost plausible, and a fun read as well. While the framework requires more than a little suspension of disbelief, the absolutely delightful cast of characters and snappy dialogue transform this book into a huge success. Smart, confident Maggie, 16, faces a terrifying prospect-she has to attend her very first school in order to meet Jesse Oliver, son of the media mogul. Maggie is thrilled to be able to prove herself as a capable spy, but it's the social stuff that throws her. Fortunately, she meets Roux, a hilarious poor little rich, former "mean girl" outcast as colorful as her name, who ushers her through the indignities of preparing for her first NYC party. As a chick-lit spy caper, Also Known As has it all, from exciting action and adventure to a chaste first kiss. Roux provides a hint of darkness with her sneaky drinking and former sex-capades (which caused the outcast status), but she has a heart of gold, of course. Maggie's parents are a refreshing change from the neglectful types in most YA fiction, and Angelo, her mentor (expert forger and possible assassin?), is one of the strongest characters readers will ever meet. Even Jesse Oliver is more than a pretty face. Plan to have multiple copies of this book available.--Susan Riley, Mamaroneck Public Library, NY[Page 109]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.