Friday, March 14, 2014

Jennifer's Book Review: The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

Cammie Morgan attends the prestigious Gallagher Academy, an all-girls school for gifted students. Or, at least that’s what the brochure says. What it doesn’t say is that it’s also an all-girls school for spies-in-training. The school invites the best and the brightest girls, beginning in sixth grade, to learn about picking locks, weapons and all forms of espionage. Cammie is a legacy, and her mother is the headmistress.

 The series is an amusing, fast-paced and totally unrealistic read. Cammie and her friends manage to solve international crimes and mysteries that adults can’t, and they generally outsmart any baddie they come up against. While the adventures get more and more dangerous as the girls age (from 15 to 18), the contents do not “age” with the character as some other series do. The romance is minimal (moving from flirting to handholding to chaste kisses[1]), and while there is some violence, it’s not very detailed (Cammie does kill two people in self-defense and witnesses the deaths of other people). It is important to read this series in order because it has an ongoing adventure throughout the series—the mysterious secret society the Circle of Cavan wants Cammie dead, and she’s determined to discover why.

This book isn’t without its faults. It definitely has its fill of token (geek, minority) characters who serve as Cammie’s sidekicks. Most characters are completely one-dimensional, and the girls in the school, except for level-headed Cammie, all act like annoying stereotypical teenage girls when in the presence of boys and handsome professors. Additionally, the premise is not very believable. Training girls from the age of 12 up to become spies (and having them perform actual, deadly missions in their upper teens) is unlikely, so warn potential readers that they will be required to suspend their disbelief!

Despite these issues, the series is a fun action-adventure romp, with just a small bit of romance sprinkled in. It ends on a happily-ever-after note, and the series could easily be transformed into a Disney TV show or movie. I’d recommend this to middle-grades teens who are looking for a laugh-out-loud, easy-to-read series.

[1] The most risqué thing in the final novel is this line: “But Zach’s hand was warm in mine, and I didn’t feel the chill, even when he stopped me on the stairs, pressed me against the wall, and kissed me. Softly at first, then more urgently, hungrily. It was like he hadn’t eaten in weeks.” And that’s it. They pull apart, and talk. And that’s only in the last book…the earlier books have even less. p.s. Does it sound like he’s trying to eat her face to anyone else? Seriously…like he hadn’t eaten in weeks? Ick.


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