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Book CoverLiviania’s review of I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls, Book One) by Ally Carter
Contemporary Young Adult romantic suspense released by Hyperion 20 Mar 07

Cammie Morgan is on her way to become an elite spy, following in the footsteps of both her parents. She knows how dangerous those footsteps can be since her father never came home from a mission, but she’s still eager to use her abilities in the field. No one can follow a suspect like the “Chameleon.” While outside the walls of the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, she falls prey to her hormones when she meets Josh Abrams.

Josh is an ordinary student at the local Roseville High School. He’s not-so-typical in the fact he notices Cammie while she’s trying to hide. Flattered by his attention, Cammie uses her and her friends’ skills to escape the Academy and go on dates. Of course, it isn’t as easy to pretend to be a regular girl rather than a spy-in-training as Cammie thought. It becomes an even bigger problem since she doesn’t have even a vague understanding of boys due to being raised at an all girls’ school.

This works until you think about it.  Why is a group of girls training to be femme fatales utterly ignorant of boys?  I’m not saying they should be experts in seduction, but they should have basic skills for interacting with the opposite sex.  After all, males comprise the majority of the politically important – the Gallagher Girls are going to be doing the majority of their work with men.  Ally Carter developed a fun concept, but this quibble makes it sometimes hard to suspend disbelief.

I am predisposed to like I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You.  I love spy novels, particularly ones involving younger spies.  It allows for an interesting exploration of psychological elements.  I also loved that it had a female protagonist.  I like the Alex Rider series and similar, but sometimes I want something girlier.  While the Gallagher Girls novels aren’t my feminine spy novels of choice, I enjoy them and look forward to the next release.

For one thing, I like reading about the other Gallagher Girls as much or more than Cammie.  You have Liz, a brilliant scientist who leaves something to be desired in fieldwork.  The glamorous Bex worries about her parents, who may disappear like Cammie’s father.  Macey, the new girl, becomes part of the group slowly – and partially because of her knowledge of boys gained through heterosocial education.  The other girls who aren’t part of Cammie’s main group also show potential in their brief appearances.  The novels, in my opinion, focus a bit too much on Cammie when there’s an intriguing ensemble cast waiting to be explored.

Josh and Cammie have decent chemistry, but their relationship seems pretty doomed from the start.  To me, this undercuts the drama and emotional intensity.  No relationship built on such complicated lies could or should survive.  However, it’s extremely fun to watch the schemes the girls develop to learn more about Josh unfold.  Every girl wants friends like these.

Carter has a cool concept, but her execution isn’t the best.  Most of all, I wish for more of the girls’ friendship to be shown and less attention paid to a lackluster love interest.

liviania.jpgGrade: C+

The Gallagher Academy for Exception Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, while the Gallagher Academy might say it’s a school for geniuses what they really mean is spies. But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn’t have a code name?

Cammie Morgan may be fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti), but the Gallagher Academy hasn’t prepared her for 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, and track him through a mall without him ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she’s doing something riskier than ever—she’s falling in love.

Read an excerpt here.