This is my first book review, so expect some mistakes!
Gallagher Girl Series
By Ally Carter
Hyperion Books for Children
I decided to review the entire series at once, rather than each of the six books. They were all relatively short, so one longer review seemed appropriate. This series was recommended to me many years ago, and I am glad I waited until after all six were done. I hate waiting for a series — definitely makes me a product of our times.
I initially decided to read the series as I want to write my own YA spy school book (or series…but that’s even more daunting sounding.) I figured it would be best to see what’s worked and what hasn’t, and this series did not disappoint.
Cameron “Cammie” Morgan is the daughter of the headmaster at a prestigious American all-girl boarding school. A boarding school, that is known as, if one has the appropriate clearance, being one of the best spy schools in the world. The school was founded by Gillian Gallagher, who was responsible for keeping Abe Lincoln alive longer than he should have been, for defeating the leader of the Circle of Cavan (who eventually becomes the main antagonist of the series), and for founding the Gallagher Academy. Each book takes place in a term of Cammie’s school year, starting with the fall term of her Sophomore year.
Cammie enjoys her life as a pavement artist codenamed “Chameleon,” an operative who blends into her surroundings with ease. Her mother plays a big part of her life (obviously, as she is headmaster), but especially as her father went missing years before. His best friend, Joe Solomon, becomes the school’s Covert Operations teacher, inspiring the girls to be better than the best spies.
Cammie shares a room with her best friends Rebecca “Bex” Baxter, the only non-American student to ever attend Gallagher Academy, Elizabeth “Liz” Sutton, the smartest girl in their class (if not the whole school) and one of the few students who is not a legacy, and their newest classmate Macey McHenry (who joins in the first book). While the girls are considered some of the smartest in the country (if not the world), they are, of course, just teenagers, and they frequently leave the school without permission on their own “missions.”
While the girls are taught everything important to being a spy, from learning and practicing fourteen different languages to disarming or killing a person with a dry noodle, they are not taught how to engage with boys of their own age. The four girls go on misguided missions trying to understand the teenage boy mind, whether it be about Cammie’s first love Josh, or understanding the boy-spies who share their school in Book 2.
Eventually the series gets darker as there is an attempt on one of the Operatives’ lives, leading to the involvement of the Circle of Cavan. This leads to missions all over the states and Europe, adding danger and elevated threats to the Operatives’ lives. Who will live? And who is secretly a member of the Circle?
My first impression:
I enjoyed the first book, and immediately thought of my youngest sister. This series is really geared for her age, with not too much violence in the beginning, and age appropriate romance. It’s not a series I plan on rereading, but I am glad I finally did. I liked the four main girls quite a bit, though I wished for more of Macey and Bex plot lines. While there are several boys throughout the books, I honestly didn’t particularly care for any of them (certainly not as crush worthy as other fiction boys I’ve read of this year. *cough Tobais Eaton cough*)
Things I liked:
I liked the youthfulness and innocence of the series. I enjoyed that as the girls aged, this lessened, but never fully disappeared. Cammie’s indecisiveness about her future rings true to my heart (as it does with most, I suppose.) The involvement with the Circle of Cavan intrigued me. The fifth book was my favorite. I don’t know what it is, but I feel that the fifth book of any series tends to have more angst and darkness.
Things I didn’t like:
While I understood the set up of the first book, there were characters introduced that were never used again. It’s almost as if it was a waste of time — I’d been happy with the first two books combined. I also found the end of book five incredibly rushed — I wanted more explained. I don’t want to spoil anything about the book, but it was as if one large question was answered, so why focus on all the other questions built up over the book? My final issue was with the forced adult relationship. I could have done without them, or at least changed who Joe Solomon ended up with.