Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: I'd Tell You I Love You, but then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Ahhhh, I was hoping to have this post up earlier!! I had a symposium in the afternoon, but figured I'd have time in the morning to write the review... but I did not have time to finish ^_^; Luckily, the day is not over, phew!

So, guess what? Today's the TBR challenge day and I made it for a 4th consecutive month! Not only that, but I stuck to the theme! Yes! I know the themes are not mandatory, but it's fun to make it. Gives you a feeling of accomplishment, especially for someone like me who doesn't do well reading under pressure :)

Anyway, I'm happy that I made it because my reading has been kind of slow lately. Except for the new releases I was really looking forward, I have been picking up books and putting them back down, reading only a few pages :( So I was pleasantly surprised when I zipped through this book for the TBR challenge :)

Here we go!

I'd Tell You I Love You, but then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
published by Hyperion in April 2006
The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school, that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE, the latest in chemical warfare in science; and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes computer class. So in truth, Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses, but its really a school for spies. Cammie Morgan is a second generation Gallagher Girl, and by her sophomore year she's already 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 one thing the Gallagher Academy hasn't prepared her for is what to do when she falls for 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 his 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, shes beginning her most dangerous mission; she's falling in love.
Genre: YA, contemporary
Series: Gallagher Girls, Book #1

The Story: Cameron Morgan, aka Cammie aka Chameleon, is the daughter of two spies. When her father went on mission and didn't come back, everyone knew what it meant. That's when Cammie's mother decided to switch gear and come home... to Gallagher Academy as the headmistress. On the outside, Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a boarding school for rich, spoiled girls... but in truth, it recruits girls to train them to become spies and secret agents.

Cammie has been at Gallagher Academy for a couple of years and expect to enjoy her sophomore year with her two best friends and roommates, Bex and Liz. However, the routine is disrupted by the arrival of two new persons. One is Macey McHenry, the new student who happens to be Cammie's new roommate and also the rich, spoiled daughter of Senator McHenry. The other is Joe Solomon, the new teacher for CoveOps whose made his goal to show his students what field work is really and that not everyone is suited for it.

However, CoveOps takes an entirely new meaning when during an assignment in town, a boy notices Cammie who is used to be unremarkable. Later on, she runs into him again and he asks her out on a date... Is he for a real or a honeypot? Can Cammie really have a relationship with a normal guy... based on lies?

My Opinion: A few years ago, I attended a Young Adult Authors Chat panel during the RT convention in Columbus and Ms Carter was one of the featured authors. I remembered really enjoying her talk and thought that if her books were anything like her, they'd be a lot of fun. Also, at that time, she had just started a new series, Heist Society, featuring the cat burgler business which I love! So I was really interested in her books. At the convention, I bought Heist Society, but when I came back to home, I decided to also get I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, the first book in her Gallagher Girls series which made Ms Carter so popular. As you can guess though, it's been sitting in my TBR pile ever since ^_^; Once I saw this month's theme for the challenge, I thought this would be the perfect occasion to pick it up... Mission accomplished :)

Being the first book of the series, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You is definitively a set-up book. Readers are introduced to the school and its history, get acquainted with the characters and the world these girls live in. While the concept is not new, it was well executed and I like the ideas that Ms Carter came up with and also how the girls apply what they learn :) I thought the atmosphere was fun and exciting and I could totally visualize it. I think Ms Carter really did a good job thinking it through and it resulted in being one of the strong aspects of the book.

Throughout the book, the story unfolds through Cammie's POV and I think she was a good character, a good narrator. While she is training to become a spy and her life is so abnormal, deep down, Cammie is just a regular girl... especially when she meets a cute boy LOL. I thought that part was pretty fun. The fact that they are so savvy and have a lot more specialized knowledge, but at the end of the day, they are still teenagers. In that sense, I think it was great to have Macey to show the contrast... Macey has lived in the "normal" world, has a life experience that these girls don't. I think the perfect operative would be someone that has the right balance in between. Anyway, back to Cammie. She was a nice girl in love for the first time. She's sweet, she's loyal to her friends, eager to live... She could have been annoying because of all the spy-knowledge, but Ms Carter did a good job at balancing the spy and the teenage girl personality :) Also, I thought the dilemma - being an operative or not - Cammie faced was quite interesting and I liked the direction she took at the end. At her age, I thought it made the most sense. Bex and Liz were also nice friends, but a bit stereotypical in the sense that Bex likes action and Liz is the brain. One other thing is that I like the teaching staff from Cammie's mother to the new teacher, Mr. Solomon and the funnier and stereotypical teachers :)

While I really liked the concept and the characters, I felt the story was lacking a little bit. I actually liked the part about Cammie meeting a guy and falling in love with him, developing a relationship. I liked how they spied on him, putting in practice what they learned. I thought that was fun :) However, the rest of the book seemed a bit disjointed. I felt there was no flow between the different storylines - life at Gallagher Academy, Cammie's romance and their mission - nothing connecting them and making it "whole." Part of it is due to the fact that Ms Carter spent a little bit too much time setting up the world. To her credit, Ms Carter does try, but the thread is so thin that it doesn't really work... And I think it really hurt the final impression of I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You.

Overall, I thought that I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You was a fun book. It's the kind of books that you want to read when you wish to escape reality, because what happens in here is so out there, so foreign LOL. And obviously, you have to be able to suspend disbelief to truly enjoy it. If you're able to do that, then you're in for a good time. Also, it says on the back cover that I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You has been optioned for film by Walt Disney Pictures. I can totally picture it as a movie in my head. The way Ms Carter has written this book, it'd really be easy to adapt it on the big screen... and I hope we'll have the chance to see it :)

My Grade: B-. A fun and quick read, but lacking a little bit in depth. I'd say I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You is a bit like a Walt Disney movie, eg. the Spy Kids movies (not the spy aspect). It's a fun way to spend time and you're happy if you do read/watch it, but it is not ground-breaking and no real loss if you don't.