Daily Archives: May 16, 2009

Don’t Judge a Girl by her Cover

covercarterCould there be a series that is more fun, more sassy, more clever and more generally happy-making than Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls books? I. Don’t. Think. So.

If I had read these books as a teen, I am fairly certain I would not be a grade 5 teacher right now. I would be a spy. I would know about stuff like hacking into computer systems, creating the ultimate disguise, encryption and tailing suspects like a pro. I would be as cool under pressure as a Gallagher Girl. I would be Cammie Morgan.

For those who haven’t yet read the first two titles in Carter’s series (I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy), you must not waste a moment to treat yourself. You can read more about these two books (and excerpts too!) at Ally’s website. I’m guessing you’ll be hooked.

Super quick context to get you up to speed: Cameron Morgan is not an ordinary teen and she doesn’t go to an ordinary school. She attends the prestigious Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, which is in fact, a school for girl spies-in-the-making. Her mom is the headmistress, and one of the finest spies the Academy has ever produced. In books one and two, Cammie and her best friends learn a lot about spy life, have a lot of dramatic spying experiences, and get tied up in some complicated romantic situations along the way.

Don’t Judge a Girl by her Cover, (not released until June /09… don’t hate me!) picks up just after the dramatic finish of book two. Cammie heads to Boston to visit her friend Macey, whose dad is accepting a nomination for vice president of the United States. Far from a fun end-of-summer weekend, the pals end up caught in a kidnapping plot, and they must draw on all of their spy skills to escape. This event launches Cammie’s junior year, and sets up a whole lot of mystery, danger and secrecy as the Academy works to protect Macey from this new threat. Cammie, and her BFFs Bex and Liz, rally around their friend and try to get to the truth. Of course, there are boys and some computer hacking and bullet-dodging along the way.

There is so much to love here people. So much.

1. The private school setting is so well done. You will love the odd collection of Gallagher Academy teachers every bit as much as the professors of Hogwarts. They are a strange, well-drawn crew that add a lot of dimension and believability to the narrative.

2. The girls, Cammie, Bex, Liz and Macey, have a friendship that girls will relate to and each of them stands out a bit for their individual skills and interests. We’re really seeing how Carter defines what it means to be a sisterhood: to be loyal and proud and to defend the people you care about.

3. At this point in the series, things are starting to get a bit darker. The tension is rising. Who is after Macey and why? It’s not all fun and games anymore, and Carter brings this out perfectly without losing the humour altogether. It felt different from the first two books as secrets and threats begin to move centre stage.

So read it (in June, when it launches). Meanwhile, reread the others, or try listening to the audiobooks, which I’ve enjoyed a great deal too.

On a related note, I am suspicious that a certain kidlit blogger among us is setting up for a little spy-training herself. Read this and decide for yourself. Miss Erin, are you going Gallagher on us? ;)

Other blog reviews:

Miss Erin
Em’s Bookshelf
Chick Lit Teens