Author: Ally Carter:
Series: Gallagher Girls #1
Date Published: April 25, 2006
Genre: Contemporary (YA)
Source: Garage Sale :)
Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?
You guys know me. I am a TOTAL sucker for the boarding school YA books. Lots of people are sick of them...but maybe because I'm still waiting for my letter to Hogwarts, I just LOVE a book that is set in some kind of cool old castle/church/mansion/etc. And you know what? The Gallagher Girls series is ten times more awesome than any of those other boarding school books you've heard about because these chicks not only attend one of the most prestigious schools in the country...but they are training to be freaking spies dude!
Besides from being a mouthful of words, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You is a ton of spy-skill fun all wrapped up in a cute, light, and endearing YA novel. Cammie Morgan is NOT your typical teenager. While most girls her age were learning to tie their shoes, Cammie was learning to hack computers, speak fluent French and the art of disguising oneself into her surroundings. But that's everyday life at Gallagher Academy, an all-girls "reform school" in the middle of upstate Virginia. The town thinks it's the home of snobby aristo-brats who've partied themselves out of their regular prissy private schools, but these girls are FAR from the rich and famous. It's hard to focus on fashion and gossip when you've gotta spend every meal speaking a different language, or taking advanced defensive maneuvers instead of plain old P.E.
Cammie is pretty well-entrenched in her life as a spy. With a mother as an ex-CIA agent, ex-valedictorian of Gallagher, and now Headmistress, there really was never another option. She and her friends are the top of their class and they know it...then things start to change when Cammie meets a town boy while out on a mission. It's hard to find a good guy when you live with hundreds of girls and the only men around for miles are over 50, so when Cammie falls for Josh, she falls HARD. As in stalking his place with her friends, rappelling up his walls when he's not home so she can get some info from his room, hooking GPS's to his car so she can find him kind of infatuation. Crushes seem to me so much easier (and kind of scary) when the crushee is a spy, but I admit it was laugh-out-loud funny when the spy-girls turn something so simple as getting his number into an intensely planned out Covert Ops Mission.
Character-wise, I loved how Cammie was portrayed. She wasn't a showoff and she wasn't a snob. She just had some kick-ass spy skills and wasn't afraid to use them. My favorite thing about her is that she actually liked who she was and where she was in life. So many times we get the WHY ME syndrome in YA lit. The main character spends like 8 years moping around and bemoaning her fate before putting on her big girl panties and dealing with her life. NOT the case with Cammie. She loves being a spy, and doesn't resent not having a normal life, she just finds a way to experience a bit of normal along with the crazyness that is her life. I also liked her group of friends, especially Liz and Bex. They were always there with a quip, one-liner, or decisive plan of action to get Josh's attention for a date or dance or somesuch. I did feel like I didn't get to know each of them as well as I would have liked. I always maintain that a 250 page YA novel isn't enough to really get to know main character, let alone a big group of characters. It takes time to see how they grow and change and how their beliefs change over time. Still, I'm sure that will come down the road, after all this is still book one!
Josh was a good love interest and he is really sweet and adorable. He's super nice and it's hilarious to see how hard it is for Cammie to flirt with him. For example here is typically how her mind works on their dates. “I searched my mind for something—anything—to say, but kept coming up with things like “So, how ‘bout those new satellite-controlled detonators with the twelve-mile range?” Or, “Have you read the new translation of Art of War? Because I prefer it in the original dialect…”Oh Cammie...you poor socially-awkward teenager you...even being a spy doesn't teach you how to talk to boys like a pro. If I have one complaint about the way that Ally writes about teen love is that it isn't as swoonworthy and passionate as I know teens are. They are a freaking ball of hormones waiting to combust. If they aren't making out in a car, on a counter, against a wall, etc, something is probably wrong with them. It takes entirely too long for kisses and romantic moments to come about in the majority of Carter's books and it kind of makes me like them a little less. The same was the case in this book, though I suppose that might appeal to some parents of younger teens who are looking for a squeaky-clean read so as not to corrupt their ickle-baybah's minds.
To be honest, the plot was a little surprisingly devoid of spy adventures. I understand that these girls aren't fully fledged spies YET, but I wished I would have gotten a glimpse into some more extreme classes than what we got. Though the Covert Ops classes were cool, I felt like they were just included to give the girls some ammunition to use when trying to date Josh and secretly sneak out of the school to go to parties and meet boys. It was more of a tweeny-romance story than adventurous spy drama in my opinion, at least right up until the last few chapters. It seems like all the action I was missing out on in the majority of the book comes exploding out at the end until you quite literally have no idea what just happened, where you are, and what is about to happen. I kind of loved that I didn't expect ANY of what was happening and I am heading into the next book with no idea what I will find.
I give I'd Tell You I Love You , But Then I'd Have to Kill you 4 out of 5 Keys. No, Cammie and her friends don't have a terrible amount of depth. The story was pretty predictable and didn't really make any mind-altering revelations about the nature of life as we know it. But you know what? I really enjoyed the book anyways. Sometimes all you need is a cute, funny, light book to get you over a bad reading experience or to get you out of a reading rut. I really loved this book and I want to run right out and get book two. I think I like this series even more than Ally's other series, Heist Society...who would have thought I'd chose Spies over Thieves.