Tell Me More: A new Ally Carter novel is the best way to get me to slow down and take some time for readSO GOOD OMFG I NEED THE NEXT ONE IMMEDIATELY
Tell Me More: A new Ally Carter novel is the best way to get me to slow down and take some time for reading, without ever once worrying that the story won't live up to expectations. All Fall Down, the first book in the new Embassy Row series, is no different. The story Carter tells this time around feels more intimate though, with a smaller nucleus of action. That said, the ramifications of Grace's actions have farther reaching consequences because of the setting: a street on which several countries have situated their embassies is not a place where one can sneak into the house next door as part of a prank. A single wrong move could, as the kids themselves realize, start the next world war, and Grace has always believed herself to only be capable of the wrong moves.
At first glance, Grace is not like Gallagher Girl Cammie, secure in her mother and her friends and her school, or like Kat, confident in her abilities and her crew. Grace is unsure and scarred, her mother's death a weight and a responsibility that she can't shake. Even more intriguing is how the reader can't be sure of Grace either. She's an unreliable narrator, and I loved the way Ally Carter developed that uncertainty throughout the novel. The hints are never overdone or too few to notice--we know that there is something off about Grace, and the mystery itself did not seem predictable once revealed.
What is familiar is Carter's penchant for found families, a very welcome trope. Grace's relationship with her grandfather is distant at best, and seeing her open up to Noah and the other teens on Embassy Row is just as fulfilling as seeing her gain more confidence in herself. They help her to trust herself, and to face the truth about her mother's death. The lack of a central romance highlights the burgeoning friendships even more, though there are tiny hints scattered throughout the novel of possible future relationships.
The Final Say: All Fall Down heralds the start of a strong new series, with Ally Carter's deft hand guiding Grace's story. Readers will not only be satisfied, but yearn for the next installment immediately after closing the cover.
A superb sequel that only raises the bar for all of Lyga's future books, not just the next Jasper Dent installment (because there is one, right? THEREA superb sequel that only raises the bar for all of Lyga's future books, not just the next Jasper Dent installment (because there is one, right? THERE HAS TO BE.)...more
Tell Me More:It's been two-and-a-half years since I first readI'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You, and frankly, I wish I could go baTell Me More: It's been two-and-a-half years since I first read I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You, and frankly, I wish I could go back. There is nothing like rediscovering a favourite series all over again, and even as I celebrate the release of the final book, United We Spy, I'm sad not only because it's the end, but because it'll be years before I can take up this series again and relive the experience like new. In the meantime, I want to take this moment to thank Ally Carter for one of the best series I've read in my entire life.
And what makes a series great anyway?
1. Consistency. Books 1 through 6 in the Gallagher Girls series have been consistently excellent, smart and ambitious, much like its subjects. Anyone who believes that a book with a girl in a school uniform can't be substantial is fooled by the same belief that the Gallagher Girls work to their advantage in every single chapter. United We Spy highlights the myriad ways that these girls have grown and used the way society sees women to achieve amazing and impossible things. Every time the reader falls into thinking that the story can be predicted, Cammie and her friends find another way to prove them wrong.
2. Real, powerful relationships between characters. I've always been more interested in the portrayal of friendships in literature than I have been in romantic attachments. The friendships on display in the Gallagher Girls series are some of the most luminous and realistic that I've encountered in literature. Cammie's strength and determination, especially in United We Spy, is built on the foundation of her love for her family and friends. She doesn't think twice about risking her life for them, not only because she knows they would never hesitate to do the same for her but that they are people worth saving. The friendship between Cammie, Bex, Liz and Macey is the crowning glory of the series, and United We Spy sees that friendship at its best. They are all brilliant girls on their own, but together? Their teamwork could single-handedly keep the world spinning on its axis.
And okay, the romance was pretty perfect. Zach is exactly what I wanted in a romantic interest for Cammie: he's funny, sweet and human. So many YA romantic heroes these days seem too good to be true, but Zach is realistic without resorting to extremes.
3. Unpredictable plot twists. I challenge anyone to correctly predict what happens in United We Spy. Go on. I'll wait.
Those of you who've read it already know that while all the plot twists and revelations make sense in hindsight, Carter handles them all masterfully, and there hasn't been a single book in the series that is unimportant to the central arc. The right pieces of information find their way to the surface all at the right times, and the suspense is bone-chilling when it needs to be. Carter succeeds in keeping the mystery and anticipation building, and the climactic scenes all feel like walking straight into a brick wall, they're that surprising. There were several moments where I literally screamed because I couldn't believe what was happening. United We Spy keeps the tension turned up to the highest level, and I couldn't be sure of who would survive the events in the novel until the very last page, as is only right for a thriller like this. It rewards readers who have followed the series faithfully, and it lays the groundwork for newer readers to return to the previous novels and pick out all the clues leading up to this one. (Frankly, I would be disappointed if those who've followed the series since the beginning didn't do that too.) It's clear that Carter has done the leg-, arm- and headwork involved in crafting this series.
4. Satisfaction. At the end of the day, a good series should tie up all its loose ends, answer its most pressing questions, and generally leave its readers with the sense that the story as told is complete. Sure, there should also be a desire for more. But if a reader can close the book knowing that the story can stand on its own and has achieved the things it wanted to achieve, good and bad, then the author has done an excellent job.
United We Spy does all of that and more.
I can't remember the last time I was this satisfied with the final book in a series, and really only Deathly Hallows compares. No question is left hanging, and it is very difficult to talk about this without spoiling anyone, so trust me when I say that this was exactly the right ending for the story. The biggest compliment I can give is this: as I finish typing up this review, I just keep thinking about how I want to sit in a corner, hold all six books and cry for a good long while because of the fantastic reading experience they gave me. So thanks, Ally Carter--you've got a fan for life.
It was a cute read but I had to actively work to keep myself focused on the plot. The little spy info tidbits didn't flow as well into the story and sIt was a cute read but I had to actively work to keep myself focused on the plot. The little spy info tidbits didn't flow as well into the story and sometimes felt like LOOK WHAT I CAN DO AND YOU CAN'T....more