I finished Heist Society a few minutes before 2010 began, so it’s fitting that I finish Only the Good Spy Young on July 4.
Ally’s writing keeps getting better with each book, which is something that I’ve mentioned in other reviews. She’s not a slacker author and works to make each installment of the series memorable. I keep saying, “This one’s my favorite” only to have the next one be my favorite.
Only the Good Spy Young will answer a lot of your questions. But, like with any decent covert operation, with more answers comes more questions. Zach does return, so I know my girls at school will be excited. A new staff member at Gallagher shows up: Agent Townsend, a member of MI6 (you know, like James Bond and Alex Rider). He adds his fair share of complications and leaves you wondering if he’s there to help Cammie or not.
Anyone who has talked with me for an extended length of time knows that I cheer for the villains in any story. It’s a strong villain that brings out the hero’s qualities and tempts them to compromise what they believe in (see also Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight). The Circle of Cavan returns. We find out that their connections reach deep into the CIA and other clandestine organizations.
Cammie doesn’t know who to trust and it’s for this main reason that I love the series. Junior high and high school students are surrounded daily by situations that break their trust. The books frame that dilemma in a spy context. It’s also during junior high and high school that we start to view our parents as real people and not idealized portraits. Cammie is searching for what happened to her father. Throughout her adventure she sees good and bad examples of parents (a moment where she chats with Bex’s father was so simple and yet so awesome) and tries to make sense of her situation.
The boy trouble returns. These two quotes sum up how Cammie has regular teen drama on top of life-and-death situations:
“I didn’t know whether to hug him or hit him (a feeling that I frequently associate with Blackthorne Boys, to tell you the truth)”
“‘He’s a guy, Cam.’ Macey pushed past me and led the way down the hall. ‘And a spy. He’s a guy spy. There’s always going to be something he’s not telling.'”
Readers are able to realize that other people are struggling with the same issues they are and that they are not weird. Cammie has a believable balance between confidence and doubt. She is maturing, though. Gone are the training missions. Every time the Gallagher Girls take on a mission now, it’s a risk.
I remember a conversation I had with Ally when she visited my library (librarians, you need to have her come talk with your students!). I told her how I love spy stories and how there’s a prerequisite for helicopters. Only the Good Spy Young met my helicopter quota. Something else I mentioned, though, was that I respect any YA author who can threaten her characters. Many times there’s too much suspension of disbelief.
I appreciated Mikaelsen’s Touching Spirit Bear because when Cole tries to stab a bear, he gets worked over. Moral of the story? Don’t stab bears. When spies are in the field, there’s a decent chance of them being captured, tortured, and shot. Saying anything more will reveal too much plot from Only the Good Spy Young.
Students, you might want to buy the book on your own. I will have multiple copies, but I can tell you that there will be a wait list. If you are new to the series, I recommend starting with Love You, Kill You. You’ll appreciate the growth of the characters and the depth of what being a Gallagher Girl means.
Ally, keep ‘em coming. I’m excited for senior year.