Rating: 2.75/5 stars
Series: Gallagher Girls, Book 1
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Mystery, Contemporary
While I know it’s always a risk to go back and reread stories you loved years ago, I’ve been lucky that recently all the books I’ve reread have been enjoyable. Of course, this one had to go and ruin that trend. Now I’m not saying that it wasn’t a fun read, but it wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered it. Sure I first read this book back when I was younger than the protagonists and that’s the age range that this book was geared towards, but I was still disappointed during this reread of the first book in a series I loved the first time I read it.
The truth is, this book is pretty simplistic. It gives the reader exactly what it says – a cute RomCom about a teenage spy. I got little more than that out of this read, so if that’s what you go into it looking for you won’t be disappointed. Of course, there are many similar stories that have been written that do this better – Heist Society by Ally Carter being one of them. (It’s also a great example of the growth Carter went through as a writer over the 4 years between the books.)
While there are a few things that I enjoyed about this read, I don’t know that I’d suggest others go out of their way to pick the series up. An enjoyable read for a preteen, I definitely feel that this book is written pretty young for someone older than that to pick it up. If you’re looking for a fun and silly book, though, you might enjoy giving this read a try. The key to enjoying this series seems to be accepting its quirky early 2000s sense of humour and settling in for the girly ride.
One of the things that I enjoyed about this read was that it’s written as if Cammie is writing a Covert Operations Report. It makes the simplistic read more understandable, since it’s supposed to be something a 15 year old is writing. It also gave the story an interesting lens – through the eyes of a girl (and spy) experiencing her first love and (undercover experience).
Though I need to admit that at times Cammie comes across as quite vapid and crass. It’s quite obvious that she’s placing Josh above her friends that have been there for her since before Josh ever saw Cammie in Chameleon mode. Heck, if Dillon hadn’t have spotted her with her classmates, Cammie probably would have spiraled deeper into her lies and deceptions, losing herself and the friends that were so loyal to her.
On a happier note, it’s nice to see a “plain” girl being depicted as the main character of a story. While there’s an abundance of beautiful girls in this story, Cammie is said to be a pavement artist because she’s bland and can go unnoticed in a crowd. She’s good at going undetected when she doesn’t want to be seen. This trend of “average” or “plain” girls as protagonists has increased in recent years and I personally didn’t experience many in the early 2000s, around the time ITYILYBTIHTKY (gosh that’s long even abbreviated!) Was published.
It was also nice that Josh was able to make Cammie feel seen. She’d gone almost her whole life trying to be invisible and succeeding so it must be nice to feel seen – especially when even your best friend has trouble with it at times. Everyone deserves to feel seen sometimes.
On the other hand, I felt bad for Josh, having been lied to about practically everything the whole time. Almost nothing Cammie told Josh about herself was real, which might be the point of a legend but is an awful way to start (and build) a relationship.
Of course, even this doesn’t stop Josh from trying to rescue Cammie when he thinks she’s been kidnapped – he’s too caring for that. Even Cammie telling him that she’s fine and is actually on a mission doesn’t stop Josh from trying to help her out. He really didn’t deserve to be lied to so thoroughly, even if town boys don’t have anything to do with Gallaghar Girls.
Of course, I enjoy the fact that Anna – shy, timid Anna who couldn’t even defend herself from Dillon and his cronies while refilling her prescription – was the one to save the CovOps mission and secure the “package”. I’m glad she was able to gain some confidence in herself.
The ending itself was pretty well written – an epilogue from a different, unknown perspective. It gives a nice hint about what’s to come in the series without actually giving anything away. Who knows, is Cammie really as special as she seems?
As I reread books I used to really enjoy, I’m finding my opinions challenged. While I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon, I certainly hope my next reread lives up to my memories more than this one did.
Are you a person who likes to reread books, or do you only like to read a story through once? I’d love to hear which side of the conversation you fall on and why that’s the way you love reading.