First Lines: “Just be yourself,” my mother said, as if that were easy. Which it isn’t. Ever. Especially not when you’re fifteen and don’t know what language you’re going to have to speak at lunch, or what name you’ll have to use the next time you do a “project” for extra credit.
I bought this book for $0.20 in a used book sale at my library, which is frankly the best way to buy books if you don’t mind them being a little wore and (occasionally) a little gross in places. As a teacher, I just buy them up and let my middle schoolers have at them. They’re gonna get gross anyway.
*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*
Cammie just wants to have a normal spring semester after all the chaos, secrets, and lies of last semester (as she sneaked around to meet up with her first ever boyfriend, Josh, and subsequently had to end things when he learned too much about her life as a spy). Cammie constantly wonders if Josh is thinking about her still. Does he want to get back together? Could she, even if he wanted to? Despite every effort to stay normal, danger follows Cammie like a shadow. She and her friends learn that Gallagher Academy is going to be hosts to a group of boys–code name Blackthorne. And when Cammie’s blamed for a serious security breach, she becomes determined to clear her name and find the true perpetrator. Can she find the real traitor before it’s too late? …Will anyone believe her?
I’m just going to say now that I thought this book read kind of childish. And there may be a couple of really good explanations for that. 1) I am nearly 10 years older than Cammie is. 2) This book is basically 8 years old itself, and YA was written a bit differently at that time than it is now. 3) Its target audience is not 23-year-olds, it’s probably closer to 13-year-olds. There. Totally logical explanations as to why I found this book to be a bit childish.
I did like Cammie and the other characters. I love that Cammie is a smart, capable, and determined main character who can pretty much beat down anyone who crosses her path, male or female. But I also love this dichotomy where she cannot figure out boys to save her life. She analyzes every single word as though it’s a life-or-death matter. And it’s hilarious that someone as smart as Cammie can’t figure it out.
Speaking of these boys, I gotta say that I really enjoyed Zach’s character. He was funny and sweet and frequently outmaneuvered Cammie, much to her chagrin. I enjoyed that.
I also really enjoyed that these were all strong girls whose every conversation did not revolve around boys. They don’t put their self-worth on what a boy thinks of them. (Though, admittedly, this book did start to move them in that direction as the girls went to extreme lengths to catch the boys’ attention.) Still, they weren’t as boy-obsessed as girls are in some other stories.
There are great action moments here like fights, betrayals, and secrets, but I still felt like the story took an awful long time to get going. Like, half the book. I kept reading and reading without feeling like I was getting anywhere.
Still, I’ll probably hang around to find out what happens in the next book. I just wasn’t overly impressed with this one.