Tuesday, February 05, 2008
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You, by Ally Carter
Yup--I'm doing a bunch more YA reading recently, as the kidlets are reading books that they enjoy a great deal. So, since I'm not picking such great reading material, I'm borrowing theirs.
Tell/Love/Kill is a hybrid spy/romance/boarding school novel and is clearly setting itself up to become a series. Our Heroine, Cammy Morgan, is the enrolled at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Girls, and all girls boarding school outside Washington D.C. that is actually a training school for spies. The humor comes from the juxtaposition of spy training with ordinary school routines, as well as the on-going joke about all the things invented by past "Gallagher girls." "Duct tape didn't invent itself, you know.
Cammy is in an unusual position--her mother is the headmistress of the academy, and her father disappeared on a mission some years back. As a result she has become "the Chameleon"--a girl who fades into the background so she isn't noticed. Things change one night when the girls are allowed into town to attend a carnival, and a boy sees her. Really sees her, which is so unusual that Cammy is surprised.
A relationship develops, which Cammy tries to keep secret from her mother, while sneaking out to see Josh--a task which is made possible by her spy training. She then invents a "cover" for Josh, since she can't tell him she's a Gallagher girl--he doesn't have the right clearance for that kind of sensitive information.
Things develop as you think they might, made fresh and funny by the spy motif. Cammy and her friends rappel in and out of Josh's house to confirm he isn't there to infiltrate the school--Cammy goes along because she's dying to know more about him. Things come to a head as she's about to be outed to Josh as a Gallagher girl, so she decides she has to break up with him--sacrificing their budding relationship to maintain secrecy. So it's just too bad that her Covert Ops final is sprung on her as she walks away--poor Josh sees her grabbed, blindfolded and pulled into a speeding van. Safe to say that very few Gallagher finals have concluded with a town boy driving a front end loaded into a school building to rescue his girlfriend.
Written with some of the flippancy of Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series, Tell/Love/Kill covers the excitement of developing romantic relationships while warning girls of the pitfalls of trying to be someone else for a boy--a lesson made easier to swallow by the whole spy theme. The book ends satisfactorily, but without a clear and final resolution for Cammy and Josh. There is already a sequel out, Cross My Heart And Hope To Spy, and that one will be coming home too.