Published: 7th August 2008 by HachetteAU
Format: Paperback, 240 pages
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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?
Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love.
A fun novel about a boarding school that trains future female operatives for the CIA, I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You follows a group of four sophomore (15/16-year-old?) girls. I liked the casting, although they were fairly stereotypical for YA – super-brainy girl, drop-dead-gorgeous girl, rebellious girl, and our protagonist, the spy equivalent of a wall-flower. I also liked the story, which is highly entertaining and made me laugh and roll my eyes a lot, but I was expecting more substance from this novel.
In particular, I wanted the girls to display amazing super-sleuthing skills and uncover deep dark secrets, but they basically spent the whole novel misappropriating the spy gear to … stalk a boy. Disappointing, and for me, it took away a little from the premise of ‘kick butt girls who can save the world’. I resent the persistent fiction that occurs in YA that paints all teenaged girls as desperate and boy-crazy. I also despair the safety of an America that is one day going to the hands of operatives who are so easily distracted.
You also don’t have to look far to see the gaping plot holes in the story either – killing someone with uncooked spaghetti is just as ridiculous as it sounds, and I am still baffled at why the girls thought they were getting away with something by sneaking in and out of the school. A spy school where the adults can’t keep track of their students? A mother who isn’t angry at her daughter for flouting rules and putting everything in jeopardy, but congratulates her on her sneakiness?
The other thing that mystified me is that Gallagher Girls is a supposedly a school for the extremely gifted women in each age group. Class sizes are small (they all fit into a van), and yet, aside from a few comments about how quickly Liz calculates things, I don’t see any evidence of the genius status of the students. I went to a school for gifted kids, I’m not saying that students shouldn’t act like normal teenagers and talk about boys, fashion, makeup, sneak in and out of school, run covert operations and generally give the teachers hell. I’m that that’s all these girls did, and aside from a few spy gadgets thrown in here and there and cool revolving bookcases, these girls could have been in any other boarding school.
However, this is an undeniably enjoyable book, with a funny, sharp-witted narrator who I couldn’t help but adore. I’ll be reading the rest of the series to see where more serious training and more covert ops lead these girls, and I look forward to finding out a little more about the equivalent male training centre.