There was a big flea market sale in the Catholic girls school a block away from us so I ended up picking through the books there and getting these. I've heard the titles before - they're long, but memorable titles. These two are the first in a series about a girl who is going to what everyone thinks is a rich girls boarding school for geniuses, but is really a school for spies. I'd Tell You I love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You is book 1, and Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy is book 2. Book 3 is not out yet and scheduled to come out next year (June 9th, 2009).
Cammie Morgan is the daughter of the school headmistress (a former spy naturally), who has grown up at the Gallagher academy and with spying as a family tradition. Her father was also a spy – who left on a mission and never came home – this is a source of internal grief for Cammie. Since she's the headmistress' daughter, Cam knows many of the secret passages and hideaways within the academy, and she's a master at blending in (her nickname is Cameleon).
These were fast, enjoyable reads. I read them at the end of my day and had to stop and make myself sleep, but I could have easily read them in one 2 or 3 hour sitting. There's a lot of fun in reading about the unique school - all the students that may go to it, and the classes that they need to take. So that part is entertaining, but here are some realistic teenage problems that occur in the unusual setting, which made the books are surprisingly more relatable than I first expected them to be. Mostly because in between learning how to be a good agent, Cammie Morgan is learning about boys. That's a universal subject – and something girls in the Gallagher academy have no experience on. I think all girls in this world have once felt like boys were speaking a foreign language with one word answers and cryptic sentences that need dissecting later to figure out what he really means. It was sort of funny that even the talented Gallagher girls, who know several languages, have genius IQs and secret agent training, can't figure out out the mystery of the opposite sex. They even talked about a writing a translator. Nothing is really easy or pat in terms of relationships, so I felt like the story was a bit above the usual young adult "girl gets boy" novel. The book was light reading for the most part, and the spy school is fantasy, but there is some depth in the growing pains I read in here. Cammie's reactions felt believable – she takes her time and is more cautious after certain experiences – a bit less trusting, more wary, which seems more realistic, especially with her life. I also liked how the author made a point for the school to really want to teach the girls that what they're learning isn't just fun and games- it's often a dangerous job and people die. The adults do not take what they put the girls through lightly.
Fun way to pass the time – probably a hit with it's target audience. I can see this as being a good book for 12-14 year olds.