Thursday, June 24, 2010
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You
Author: Ally Carter
Length: 284 pages
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You is Ally Carter’s first novel in the Gallagher Girls series. Cameron ‘Cammie’ Morgan is used to blending in. In fact, she excels in it. This may seem rather unfortunate for a teenage girl, but when you’re a student at an exclusive boarding school for spies-in-training, it is a skill which is highly regarded. That is, until she is noticed by one particularly adorable (and completely normal) local boy. Cammie must now take on her most challenging mission so far – playing girlfriend without blowing her own cover or jeopardising the school’s reputation.
I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading others in what seems like a really fun series. As someone who was a huge fan of both Harriet the Spy and Nancy Drew when growing up, I was delighted to see a spy series developed for teen girl readers. I really loved hearing all about the history of the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. Masquerading as a private school for rich girls, Gallagher Academy trains its students in espionage, body combat, foreign languages and covert operations. Carter makes excellent use of technical terms, spy jokes and sleuthing techniques.
So obviously the other major plotline in the novel is Cammie trying to maintain a ‘normal’ relationship with Josh, a local guy from town. She has to start thinking like a regular teenage girl (quite a task, as the child of two CIA operatives and her mother currently acting as principal of Gallagher Academy), and play the role of girlfriend, whilst disguising her other life. The romance plotline is slightly predictable (don’t people realise that secret plans never work out and when someone lies about who they are, it always comes ends up coming up and backfiring on them), and would have been pedestrian if it hadn’t been for the spy-school spin on events. Cammie meeting Josh in a park – boring! Cammie sneaking out of school through a series of secret passages, then accidently executing a kick-arse karate move on him – awesome!
Carter also writes female friendship quite well and managed to give Cammie reasonably well-developed friends, with their own quirks and distinctive personalities. I also liked the way she handled the mother-daughter relationship which was able to address relatable parenting issues (single motherhood, having a working mother) as well as less conventional ones (your mother is now your principal and a renowned former secret agent).
Whilst the narrative is successfully concluded and Cammie’s mission completed, Carter still leaves enough clues to make you want to keep reading the series. We’re left hopeful for future missions and for Cammie to do some snooping to shed light on her own family secrets - like what really happened to her father. Carter seems to have the right combination of Mallory Towers, Veronica Mars and Alias.
Not only is it a fun read, but also great to see such a strong, female focused and empowering series for young women.