I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (2006)

Id tell you

Spy girl falls for normal guy.  What could possibly go wrong?

Recommended grade level: 7-10

Pages: 284 (for ISBN 9781423100034)

Genre(s) and keywords: adventure, spy, romance, humor, chick lit

Tone/Style: conspiratorial, humorous

Pace: moderate

Topics: spies, illicit romance, boarding schools

Themes: deception, desire for romance, desire to be normal

Summary: The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional 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. (Source)

Who will like this book?: The fresh blend of romance with humor and adventure make this an easy book to get excited about. The powerful but still girly characters make it a good choice for empowering female readers with more traditionally feminine personalities and interests. Blending spy tropes with romance tropes is kind of genius.

Who won’t like this book?: Members of the usual spy books crowd may want to give this one a pass because of the focus on dating. I hate to generalize, but it’s a hard sell for most boys. (A note on reading and gender)

Other comments: I met Ally Carter once. She let me give her a hug.

Sequel(s): Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (2007); Don’t Judge a Girl By Her Cover (2009); Only the Good Spy Young (2010); Out of Sight, Out of Time (2012); United We Spy (2013)

Readalikes: Carter has two other series, Heist Society and Embassy Row. Also Known As by Robin Benway is another book about a teen spy finding first love in the world of normal people.  Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall and Rebel Belle series are similarly genre-bending and tongue-in-cheek. A Buffy the Vampire Slayer watch-alike recommendation might also be in order, for those who like humor and kick-butt girly-girls.

-Kylie Peters

 

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