Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

After a semester of sneaking out of the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women to see her first boyfriend, Josh, and getting in a massive amount of trouble for it (and for a spy like her, that means a debriefing by the CIA and having Josh’s memory erased), Cammie Morgan is not ready for the new guest at her school. She’s not ready for boys.

No one at the Gallagher Academy , the best spy school in the world, ever suspected that there might be another school out there like theirs…for boys.

As soon as the guests get there, things start to go mysteriously wrong. The school has its first Code Black in years, the boys’ rooms are surprisingly spotless, Mr. Soloman (the Cover Operations teacher) is acting really strange, there’s a mysterious picture in Cammie’s mom’s office, and worst of all, genius Cammie is confused and may be falling for one of the boys.

So why is all this happening? Who are these boys really? And what’s going on behind closed doors at Gallagher?

I have yet to read the first in the Gallagher Girl series, I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, but it’s not really necessary—even though it may make Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy a better book.* So I recommend doing the obvious and reading the first one…first. The character development begins slowly but quickly speeds up until you’re introduced to each of the main characters in a small way. There’s, of course, Cammie Morgan (known as Chameleon because of her way of hiding in the shadows, blending in), her mother (also the headmistress of Gallagher), and Cammie’s friends and teachers. The problem is: there are barely any descriptions of them, nothing but names and dialogue. What little description there is creates vapid, unrealistic characters, anyway.

And then the writing itself…uh…? The writing was a self-centered (and spy-centered). Nearly all the words in the entire book (besides dialogue) are Cammie’s thoughts. Personally, I believe that good writing has descriptions about the surroundings and the characters. And it should actually tell you who’s speaking. Sadly, this book had none of the above.

What it did have, was an obtuse amount of parenthesis and inside these parenthesis, there were far too many cheesy afterthoughts to force the reader to remember—as if you’d forgotten—that you were reading a book about spies. For example:

‘She cut me a look that could kill (and will—just as soon as our head scientist, Dr. Fibs, perfects his looks-can-kill technology).’**

Eventually, though, comes a light at the end of the tunnel. Finally we were introduced to Zach, the first character to actually develop into someone with a past, a life—one that didn’t surround everything Cammie did—and strangely enough, he was supposed to be portrayed as the character Cammie knew nothing about.

As the book continues, the writing gets a little better, the plot becomes bearable, and the dialogue more believable.

I give Ally Carter’s Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy just 3 cups of coffee (hazelnut at that, because some people like it, but it’s just not my flavor).


* maybe that’s why the character development wasn’t there for me, so please excuse that if you thought it was good.

** this was one of the worst throughout the book, not only because it was a terrible play on a popular figure of speech, but also because Ally Carter couldn’t be creative enough to come up with a better name than ‘looks-can-kill technology’???

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