I have a LOT to say about this book, primarily because it features an Asian protagonist and for the first time in contemporary literature, I actuallyI have a LOT to say about this book, primarily because it features an Asian protagonist and for the first time in contemporary literature, I actually could understand a lot of her sentiments as an immigrant with parents born in a foreign country. And the fact that this is one of the first contemporary books where I've felt that way has made me feel a lot of feelings; anger that diversity is so under-represented in literature today, sadness that it is nearly impossible to find this type of diversity in an accessible manner, joy that perhaps this is an indication that future literature will feature more diversity.
Anyhow, this may be Milan's first non-historical romance novel but it is just as stunning as her previous works. What's more, this reads more New Adult Romance than Adult Romance which I absolutely LOVED because Trade Me is actually GOOD. Ignore that pathetically cheesy synopsis which makes you think all sorts of scenarios which have nothing to do with this book. Trust me, you THINK this is just another romance novel but Milan always put such a unique spin on age-old tropes.
I honestly didn't expect to fall in love with this series as much as I did. I tend to gravitate towards darker contemporary fiction featuring teens onI honestly didn't expect to fall in love with this series as much as I did. I tend to gravitate towards darker contemporary fiction featuring teens on the cusp of adulthood and yet, Benway's entertaining spy thrillers have managed to establish their own niche in my heart. In Going Rogue, Maggie, a safecracker whose life has been spent working for a spy agency known as the Collective, has finally settled down for the first time in her life. She's been in New York City for nearly a year now, spending her days alongside her best friend, Roux, and boyfriend, Jesse. Though Maggie longed for the chance to be just another normal teenage girl, now that the highlight of her days are SAT prep classes, she is forced to admit that she's bored. As much as she thought she could suppress being a spy, the fact of the matter remains that deep down, being a spy is more than just a profession; it's who she is.
When the Collective turns against Maggie's parents, however--a retaliation after Maggie exposed the chink in their armor in Also Known As,--Maggie takes it upon herself to find the evidence that will prove her parents' innocence. With the help of Angelo, the man who is practically an uncle to her, Maggie swears to save her family, all while maintaining the new relationships she's formed since arriving to NYC. While Also Known As charmed me with its down-to-earth narration and genuine honesty, Going Rogue stole my heart with its all-too-believable hurdles and heart-warming difficulties. As easy as it may be, physically, for Maggie to return to former skills in order to save her parents, it's a mental strain as it means she must distance herself from her best friend and boyfriend. After getting Roux and Jesse involved in her life a year ago, Maggie has no desire to put them in harm's way again and though she has their best interests at heart, it isn't easy to navigate those relationships.
Both Roux and Jesse understand and support Maggie, but they also want her time and presence in their lives. For Roux, who is used to being left behind by her absentee parents, the thought of Maggie going undercover instantly equates to Maggie leaving. I love the friendship between Maggie and Roux but it undergoes its rough patches in this novel, though it certainly emerges stronger for it. Similarly, Jesse and Maggie face their own struggles in their relationship but, what I love about these two is how perfectly they balance one another out, especially in times of turmoil. Despite any hurdles in their path, they face them down together and Benway writes their romance with plenty of swoon, despite the lack of steam. In fact, that's what makes their love story all the more adorable and swoon-worthy; the little things.
Going Rogue introduces a handful of new characters, all of whom I loved, and it continues to feature a stellar example of faithfully realistic parent-child conversations. Angelo, who I grew to like very much in Also Known As, has swiftly become one of my favorite characters and his wisdom, intelligence, and presence in the lives of all these teens, not just Maggie, is reassuring. It adds a touch of realism to what would have otherwise been a wildly unbelievable novel, I think, as Maggie isn't solely responsible or wise enough to take on international spy tasks without Angelo's intel and guidance. Benway's prose, as always, is compulsively readable and the narration, full of easy sarcasm, clever wit, and laugh-out-loud humor only adds to the pleasure of the reading experience. These novels prove to be the perfect light-hearted contemporary read, all with the much-needed character-depth I constantly crave. Quick, fun, and with no shortage of swoon, Benway's novels are a must-read. ...more
While the first novel in this series really is the best--Isn't She Lovely--I enjoyed Crushed far more than I did Broken and the vibrRating:: 3.5 Stars
While the first novel in this series really is the best--Isn't She Lovely--I enjoyed Crushed far more than I did Broken and the vibrant, unique protagonist of this novel completely won me over. I think what makes this series tricky--or at least the last two installments--is the fact that these protagonists are not nice. They don't fit into pre-defined labels of goodness but they also aren't quite the classic bad boy so it's hard to know how to navigate a lot of the sticky emotions in these books. Moreover, the characters are at that New Adult stage where everything just is overly dramatized, mostly because of the nature of the genre but partly because of the age group as well. While I grew a little impatient with the prolongation of the final HEA--seriously, did we need all of those misunderstandings--I still thought this was an excellent novel from Layne. Her adult series definitely sit better with me but this was a genuinely interesting and original take on a lot of classic tropes in the New Adult genre and the more I think about the nuances Layne added to her work, the more I find to recommend within this series.
I found this sequel to be even more rewarding than its predecessor. Gretchen's voice is far more developed and mature, though just as vulnerable, whicI found this sequel to be even more rewarding than its predecessor. Gretchen's voice is far more developed and mature, though just as vulnerable, which enabled me to instantly connect with her in a way I hadn't in Blankman's debut. What's more, the romantic tribulations that she and Daniel must face alongside the thrill of the historical time period they are thrown into made for a truly enlightening and exhilarating read. Extremely well-written and sure to satisfy fans of the first novel, this is not a sequel--or author--to be overlooked.
Also Known As is a brilliant, fresh, and innovative take on the classic teenage spy idea. While I've enjoyed Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls and Heist SAlso Known As is a brilliant, fresh, and innovative take on the classic teenage spy idea. While I've enjoyed Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls and Heist Society books, I find that Benway's concept manages doesn't take itself quite so seriously and the end result is not only compulsively readable and instantly relate-able, it's also downright adorable and incredibly humorous. Maggie, the protagonist of our novel, is a genius lock-breaker and safe-cracker. Born to a set of spies who work for an organization known as The Collective which brings down the bad guys of the world, Maggie has spent her life traveling the globe, saving the world one assignment at a time. When Maggie and her parents are sent to New York City, however, this is the first time Maggie has a mission all of her own--one in which her parents can't aid her in the least. And her mission? Befriend local high school student, Jesse, and steal the files his father possess which could expose the members of The Collective, Maggie and her parents included. For Maggie, this meant that she actually had to step into the dreaded institution immortalized by every film, novel, and magazine for its cutthroat citizens, ruthless exams, and downright miserable atmosphere: high school.
Seriously, who doesn't want to read a novel about a kick-ass teenage spy whose greatest challenge is high school? Maggie's voice is so honest and likable from the beginning itself that it's impossible not to fall in love with her sarcasm, wit, and all-round general awesome-ness. Seriously, this not only the girl I'd want guarding my back in a gunfire, she's also the chick I'd love to call my best friend. Maggie and her parents, despite their unconventional lifestyle, share an incredible relationship which is truly put to the test as Maggie becomes a normal high school student, for the first time in her life, and her parents find themselves having to dole out curfews, check up on homework assignments, and attend parent-teacher conferences. For a family who has operated on private jet planes and breaking-and-entering missions, it's a whole new world. I really enjoyed, however, how Maggie's parents played such a large role in her life and their conversations and arguments were completely realistic and all-too-believable.
Another aspect of this novel that I love is Roux, the loner Maggie befriends. As a spy, Maggie isn't supposed to make friends or become attached to the people on her mission, but she slowly begins to realize that normality is what she craves after a far too exciting childhood. Roux, who slept with her best friend's boyfriend the year before, is your classically unlikable and downtrodden high school student. She's the one they all label "slut", she avoids every high school party imaginable, and until she can graduate, the high school population will never let her forget what she's done. Yet, there is absolutely zero slut-shaming in this novel and it is Roux who becomes Maggie's best friend and confidant. Roux has a prickly exterior--one she's been forced to accumulate due to the acerbic quality of her fellow classmates--but inside, she's just a big softie craving love and attention. Her parents, outrageously wealthy, are constantly traveling and rarely check up on Roux who lives alone in the Upper East Side for weeks on end. She's not your classic secondary character in the least but that's what I love about her and her character is simultaneously lovable, loyal, and unforgettable.
Perhaps the aspect of this novel most integral to the plot, however, is Jesse. Though Jessie is Maggie's mark, she finds herself falling for him--hard. At first glance, Jesse seems like a typical bad-boy, good-for-nothing student. Not only is he failing calculus, but he was caught shoplifting a copy of Catcher in the Rye as well. But as Maggie gets to know Jesse more and more, she realizes that there is far more to him than what her initial research revealed. And she likes him. Their romance is utterly adorable and, though you wouldn't expect it, drama-free which I appreciated. I love how level-headed these two are and they manage to balance one another perfectly. Everything about them, from their first kiss to their first date, just made me smile so much; my cheeks hurt. It's the perfect example of a YA romance that really enriches Maggie's life and adds to it instead of causing drama or hurt instead.
Angelo is yet another secondary character who really stands out in this series. He's a close friend of Maggie's parents and basically an adoptive uncle to her. Not only is he a skilled forger and a guide to her in her spying endeavors, but he's an adult--who isn't her parents--who Maggie trusts and relies on. His wisdom is aptly given and delivered in such a way that Maggie is more likely to listen to his advice instead of those same words from the mouth of her parents. I just really appreciate that Maggie has another adult in her life who serves as her inspiration beyond just her parents. Also Known As is such a strong novel precisely because of the strength of its characters. Maggie maintains such strong relationships with all of those closest to her, from her parents to Angelo, and slowly her family starts to grow and expand to include Roux and Jesse as well. Moreover, the crux of this novel lies not in assignments and spying, but rather in Maggie comes to terms with what she wants from her life and defining that not only for herself, but for her parents too. Maggie begins to question whether a life dedicated to The Collective is really for her when she sees the advantages that normalcy can bring and the fact that the core of this novel is a classic coming-of-age tale is what makes me love it most. Robin Benway is quickly on her way to becoming one of my most favorite authors ever and if you read Also Known As, you'll definitely see why. ...more
I vaguely remembered picking this one up a year or two ago but then figured it must have been a different novel. Just a few chapters of thRating: DNF
I vaguely remembered picking this one up a year or two ago but then figured it must have been a different novel. Just a few chapters of this, though, and I clearly remember why I abandoned it--the plot. Maybe I'm just not in the mood for something so silly and unbelievable. Sorry Tessa Dare, but I think I'm going to stick to your Castles Ever Series and nothing more....more
Having binge-watched all six seasons of "Parks & Rec" in the past two weeks, I couldn't resist the audiobook of Yes Please. While many readers havHaving binge-watched all six seasons of "Parks & Rec" in the past two weeks, I couldn't resist the audiobook of Yes Please. While many readers have assured me that I'm missing out by not having a physical copy of this novel to peruse, filled as it is with pictures and other creative images, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a listen of this novel. Poehler's voice is animated and intimate, impossible to stop hearing, and the guest speakers and sound effects she adds makes this a truly unique listening experience. While I didn't enjoy every single one of the memories shared, the ones I did fall in love with affected me deeply and profoundly. There's something reassuring about a celebrity memoir in that the aspects of life they share in common with you only serve to humanize them and make your own life experiences seem that much better since, if Amy Poehler had similar thoughts, surely I must be a pretty exceptional person myself? Regardless, I loved this book for its raw, open advice, it's silly lists which made me laugh out loud, and the superb narration which made it feel as if I was listening to a movie or a play, not a book. For fans of audiobooks, memoirs, or just Amy Poehler, this is a must-read....more
Eh. I really like the idea of Spindle Cove and there are certainly more than just a few funny bits regarding this village ruled by kick-ass spinsters.Eh. I really like the idea of Spindle Cove and there are certainly more than just a few funny bits regarding this village ruled by kick-ass spinsters. But, that being said, the actual romance itself brings nothing new to the genre. It's standard, run-of-the-mill and the love story escalates rather quickly. I wasn't entirely taken by it and definitely swooned more from the medication I'm on thanks to having my wisdom teeth yanked out today than this novel. Dare hasn't impressed me much with this installment but if you're looking for a quick, sweet pass-time with a distinctly modern heroine, this novel does the trick....more