Book Review: Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

ally carteronly the good spy young Book Review: Id Tell You I Love You, But Then Id Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Cammie Morgans having a tough year, and things arent looking to improve. Having narrowly escaped a kidnapping the previous year, shes been under constant surveillance ever since, which makes for some rather dull school holidays-admittedly those dull school holidays involve ice skating in England with a handful of MI-6s top operatives. But if youre Cammie, the mere threat of those razor sharp skate blades isnt enough to get the heart pounding. Nope, a CIA raid, some fist fights, and a whole lot of stuff about double agents seems to be the way to go instead.

Poor Cammie finds herself being questioned (politely) by the US secret service, and learns a few unpleasant things about her Covert Ops teacher Joe Solomon. Namely that hes a double agent working for the Circle, the group thats rather intent on capturing Cammie and doing whatever it is that theyre out to do (later on we find out that its not about puppies and lollipops by any means). Needless to say, the security at the Gallagher Academy is ramped way up (Again. For a bunch of spies, these guys arent very good with the whole security thing), to the point that Cammie is chaperoned just about everywhere but the bathroom.

But for the notoriously security-blase Cammie, added protection is the last thing on her must-have list. Because Cammie is convinced that despite his apparently evil ways, Solomon is one of the good guys. (Hey, if Snape can be redeemed ) Before Solomon disappeared, he left Cammie with a cryptic message exhorting her to follow the pigeons, and this message has been playing on her mind ever since the incident. As always, Cammie and her friends are determined to investigate, but with the heightened security and the addition of a new Covert Ops teacher whose motives seem little to do with teaching and more to do with sleuthing, this is no easy undertaking.

Only the Good Spy Young'is the Gallagher Girl equivalent of the later Harry Potter books: the vibe becomes increasingly dark, motivations increasingly ambiguous, and setting-wise (and character-wise) there are plenty of places where the two could be conflated. Where the first two in the series were fun and fluffy, things took a darker turn in the third outing, and they do so again in this fourth novel. Not only do the characters less easily fit into the good-bad dichotomy, but theres a good deal of frankly distasteful stuff that will have readers questioning their, and the characters, loyalties. Even Cammie herself struggles with who she isparticularly in light of what we learn about the company she chooses to keep.

My complaints with this volume are similar to those of the third, in that after a few inexplicably slow chapters, the plot feels rushed and breathless, but here to an even larger degree. Fight scenes and secret spy activities are cut down to single line descriptions that often entail re-reading, and some of the emotional complexity is lost in the frenetic whiz-bang of the narrative. But its all oddly superficial: a lot seems'to happen, but upon reflection, this isnt the case.

Another issue that was also evident in the previous book is that Cammie remains in the dark about exactly whats going on, even though there seem to be plenty of knowing adults about the place. Given that, if the previous books are anything to go by, these adults seem utterly incapable of keeping the Gallagher Girls out of the line of fire, perhaps a little dissemination of information wouldnt go astray? And although the dark and mysterious nature of the Circle is much easier to get across by keeping them, well, dark and mysterious, it does prevent the reader from feeling that its members are truly to be feared.

Flaws aside, Only the Good Spy Young is an interesting departure for Carter, and Im curious to see what her fans make of this book, and of the subsequent one (which, from the cliffhanger ending, will be likely darker and tougher in tone again).

Rating: ????? (good)

Your turn: whats your take on light series that gradually grow darker as the books progress?

With thanks to Hachette Australia for the review copy

See our other reviews of Ally Carters books

This book appears on our'list of YA books about spies

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Other books by Ally Carter:

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ally carter id tell you i love you Book Review: Id Tell You I Love You, But Then Id Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

ally carter cross my heart and hope to spy Book Review: Id Tell You I Love You, But Then Id Have to Kill You by Ally Carter





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