I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls) by Ally Carter

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I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls) by Ally Carter

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: Cammie speaks fourteen languages...but it turns out Boy isn't one of them. Witty, entertaining, and full of wonderful inside jokes, this is a highly readable start to what promises to be a great new series.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Orchard
ISBN: 978-1408309513

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All these years I'd thought being a spy was challenging. Turns out, being a girl is the tricky part.

If ever there were a new series chock full of characters to make Harry, Ron, Hermione et al look like wimps, then this is it. Virginia might not be the most exciting of States, and sleepy Roseville may not be the most thrilling of towns, but for our purposes that's good. Boring and ordinary is good. Flying under the radar is good. To the town's residents, the Gallagher Academy is just your typical all girls private school. They don't know much about it, but then who would want to when it's clearly housing a group of snooty, snobby rich kids? Except...it's not. The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is not the place it makes out it is – this is an elite institution with a difference, for all its boarders are spies in training, with a curriculum in lethal weapons and covert operations as well as exquisite twists on the usual subjects: foreign languages here mean dedicated days where the whole school converses in any one of the FOURTEEN languages the girls have to master.

Fifteen-year-old Cammie is the headmistress' daughter, but far from being a goody-two-shoes, she's a proper chip off the old block. The daughter of two former spies she is right at home in the mansion that houses the Academy which is just as well because, for all intents and purposes, this is her only home. Still, with BFFs Liz and Bex by her side, she's quite settled in her familiar, if slightly unusual, routine. But, there's one thing years of spy school haven't equipped the girls for: dealing with ordinary boys in the real world. And, when a chance encounter sends Cammie into full-on crush-mode, she has to draw on all her years of training to stick to her hastily fabricated story of who she is and what she does, and not blow her cover.

I could see at once why this book had been a hit with high schoolers on the other side of the pond, and I'm sure British teens will devour it too. The Gallagher Academy is depicted as an insanely appealing place, in much the way that Mallory Towers was to me when I was growing up, and Hogwarts has been to this generation. The key is keeping readers on their toes. Wizards and witches and ghosts and goblins may have been done to death but spies – that's a new one.

This is not the sort of book where you realise that, underneath, the Gallagher girls are just like everyone else, advanced martial arts and computer hacking skills aside. In fact, by the end of it, the story has erased absolutely any doubts you might ever have had on this matter. Gallagher Girls are lots of things – talented, quick-thinking, imaginative, even somewhat privileged – but ordinary they are not, and this fact permeates every part of the story. For this reason, watching a super-spy try to reel in the boy of her dreams is a whole lot more entertaining than watching the girl next door attempt the same thing. Throw in some witty dialogue, wonderfully acute attention to detail and perfectly captured emotional crises, and you have a wonderful, hilarious read that pulls you in right from the start.

The book cleverly refrains from too many contemporary references (no Heidi and Spencer flash in the pans here, nor one-hit wonders on their radios) and instead fixes on more classic ones, from Buffy to Brad Pitt. Though it doesn't explicitly mention the show, there's more than a little Gossip Girl to the tale, and I think this will appeal to fans of that and other similar shows.

I thought this book was rather clever and extremely inventive: a whole new world has been constructed inside the walls of the Academy and, page by page, little snippets are dropped into conversation gradually. So, instead of someone saying, Isn't it fab we have x, y and z, you are instead transported to a world where the super cool features are so much an established part of the girls' lives that their mention is a mere afterthought, almost as something that is obviously old news. You mean you didn't know there was such as thing as Evapopaper? Or that Velcro was invented by a former Gallagher Girl, whose ranks also included a certain Amelia Earhart? Where have you been?

Read this book quickly and you'll be captivated by the rollercoaster story and enchanting characters, from new kid Macey (food is so yesterday) to honorary Yank Bex and everyone in between. Linger a little longer and you may pick up on the heavy repetition regarding how great Gallagher Girls are and how talented each and everyone is at the, wait for it, fourteen languages they all speak. Details of how they get from zero to double figures in a matter of weeks are skimmed over, but then this is a school for geniuses, so we can allow them a few short cuts.

Overall, I enjoyed the book a lot – perhaps even more than I'd thought I would. This is just the first book in an ongoing series, and I for one can't wait for the next instalment.

Many thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.

The writing style of I'd Tell You... is reminiscent of one of the better Meg Cabot books, while those who like their American boy dramas sans a little subtle spying might like to sneak a peek at The Boy Book or The Kissing Club.

Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls Series in Chronological Order

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