Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it’s really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real “pavement artist”-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?
Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she’s on her most dangerous mission-falling in love
– Goodreads Synopsis
So I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for several months, waiting to be read. I’d seen this book at my nearest bookstore and the first that came to mind was ‘Awesome title!’ So I looked it up on Goodreads and then bought it then next time I had money. And then I let it collect dust… So was it worth the wait?
When I’d picked this book up, I’d expected something like Cathy Cassidy meets Anthony Horowitz. Whilst it did indeed have that spy background, it was too Princess Diaries for my liking.
The plot left a lot to be desired. The entire book revolves around Cammie’s double life as she pursues this boy and tries to keep it a secret. All the while, she is trying to pass her new class, Covert Operations, in the hope of being the great spy that her father was. Now ‘what’s wrong with that?’ you may ask. It is boring and tedious. We know that she is infatuated with this boy, who she says is the only person who has ever looked at her and ‘seen’ her. (Okay, let’s face it, I thought this sounded quite romantic!) Now moving on from that, where is the antagonist? There is actually no clear antagonist in this entire novel. The only one that I can think of is her new Covert Operations teacher, but it’s not like he wants her dead or anything. How can you have a spy book without a proper antagonist?
We are forever told that Cammie the ‘chameleon’ is smart, and yet I find that hard to believe because of the way her character narrates the story. She can obviously do awesome things like beat up someone much bigger than herself, and she is actually very intelligent. It is some of the more ‘normal’ things that she is clueless about. I understand that attending an all girl’s boarding school would have a major impact in her, but I think the author might have overreacted just a bit. True, I found it amusing that Cammie’s school teachers her 14 languages (I’m not sure if this is the exact figure, to be honest) but the one language she has no grasp of is boy. What makes this work is that girls are forever trying to understand what boys are thinking, but this spy is particularly curious. So the girliness in this novel can work, but I think Carter overdoes it, and drives me insane whilst reading it. I wanted to read a book about a spy who is a girl; not a girl who is a spy. I wanted a kick-ass heroine who would always be one step ahead of the bad guys or something, whilst trying to guard her heart- or something.
Now perhaps this is no fault of her own, but Carter’s supportive characters are compared to Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Worst still, they are declared as better than the two wizards by some popular YA reviewer on the back of the UK cover that I bought. Now, I’m no fan of the Harry Potter series, but I loathe it when books are compared like this. Just let the book stand on its own two feet. I don’t need to be told on the cover who the characters are like. Let me determine this myself.
Now at this present time, I cannot remember the name of these two best friends of Cammie’s , which is a bit worrying to say the least. This obviously means that I didn’t particularly care for them. Upon Googling the book, I have found out that their names are Liz Sutton and Bex Baxter. I actually kind of liked them, I suppose. One of them was the strong willed type who didn’t put up with other people giving her nonsense. The other was more a techy girl, rather than the sort of spy that would go out into the field. Her geekiness proves invaluable as they
stalk infiltrate Josh’s (Cammie’s crush) every move. Helpful and mostly reliable, I blame these two for fuelling Cammie’s new found obsession. Granted of course that they are teenage girls who have little contact with boys, their behaviour maybe understandable. It is still my firm believe, however, that they took it too far. Just saying.
The New Kid
Now, let me dip into Macey McHenry for a moment. I don’t want to give too much away, after all I didn’t find that this book had much too it. Macey behaves like a spoilt brat, being the rich kid that she is. Why do these YA books always seem to have a new kid? This one also had a new teacher. Isn’t a new teacher enough? With the exception of Macey as Cammie’s unlikely ally, I do not see the point in this character. There was little to her and Carter did not explore much of her besides her vapid and shallow side. Later on, we could see that she was taking an interest in the school and even a few of the students, but by then it was too late to salvage very much.
In a way, Carter played on the whole forbidden love thing favoured by many novels. As Cammie is a spy in training, it is not advised that she starts a relationship, let alone with a boy in the same town as her school. I found it endearing that Josh managed to see her, when all her life she has been the plain girl that stayed hidden. And I don’t mean that in just the whole ‘she doesn’t think she’s beautiful’ way. She calls herself a pavement artist, the kind of spy that can go by undetected whilst following her target because she can blend in well with the crowd.
I like the way they decided to communicate, with the notes instead of by phone or email. They do the whole boyfriend- girlfriend thing, and she tries to hold on to something that she knows won’t last. It should be heartbreaking, but mostly I’m pining for more action. I’m not apathetic towards her feelings or anything, but I was promised a spy novel. I wanted less kissing (this was even kind of brushed over. I know she’s only fifteen, but you don’t have to be such a prude about it!), and more butt-kicking.
Overal, I think I’d give this book a 2.5 stars. It was entertaining, but forgettable.
I doubt I’ll be purchasing the sequel.