August 2, 2012

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter (Hyperion, 2007)
GENRE: Romance - Contemporary

REVIEW: Fifteen year old Cammie Morgan goes to the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a boarding school that trains future spies. Even there, she is truly special, with an ex-CIA mom (who is also headmistress) and a dad killed on assignment, Cammie is a natural spy. But she's also a girl, as the author is quick to point out. Curious about life beyond self-defense and covert ops, Cammie falls in love with Josh, a local boy, who has no idea who, or what, she is. Hijinks ensue as Cammie uses her skills to keep her worlds from colliding, which, of course, they inevitably do. The 1st person narration is perky and cute, almost to a fault, as Cammie confides in the reader through plentiful, though eventually tiresome asides. The world of the Gallagher Academy is completely over-the-top, though if you suspend the right amount of disbelief, the ridiculousness is almost fun. Unfortunately, the stakes never get high enough for all the drama to seem warranted. There are no real bad guys and no lives at stake. For a novel populated by supposedly hard-core spies, this is a problem. As a result, Cammie's real-girl struggles fall a bit flat in this elevated, fantasy world.

OPINION: Carter keeps a tight focus on the audience I Would Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You is aimed at. Though it ultimately fails to live up to it's potential, tweens and teens will very likely devour this blend of everyday romance and girl-power spy-fantasy. Cammie is sympathetic and generally likable and, though not the most interesting person in this motley cast of characters, she is the easiest to relate to.

IDEAS: A good suggestion for girls who want their romance with a little humor and a bit of action. The importance of female friendships is also a nice touch and will likely appeal to a wide variety of girls.

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