On the surface, 15-year-old Cammie Morgan is a student at an exclusive boarding school for privileged, wealthy girls. But that is just her cover. In reality, the Gallagher Academy is a school for spies in training. Many of the girls are the children of spies, wishing to follow in their parents' footsteps; some are simply extremely bright children who have scored well on the aptitude tests and entry exams and who have spy-ish ambitions. Cammie's mother is a spy - and also the director of the academy. Cammie's father, who was also a spy, went on a mission several years earlier and was never seen again.
Cammie is starting her sophomore year, which means she is finally old enough to take Covert Ops, a class she's been looking forward to taking for years. The new teacher is a very hot James Bond-type guy, and Cammie's not sure how she feels about him, especially after seeing him wink at her beautiful mother. On their first assigned "mission" for class - to go into town and shadow a faculty member (who happens to be the most paranoid faculty member on staff) at the local carnival, Cammie learns there's more to covert ops than she previously thought. Although she is nicknamed "Chameleon" for her uncanny ability to blend into her surroundings and escape notice, she realizes that someone has noticed her, and it's a very good-looking, friendly boy her own age. She chats with him for a while, makes up some lies about herself so as not to give away her true identity, and hurries off to catch up with her classmates and finish the mission.
But she can't stop thinking about Josh. He thinks she's a normal girl, and for the first time Cammie sees the allure in that. She runs into him again, and they start seeing each other, Cammie sneaking off through the underground passageways of the school. Her friends are suspicious - is Josh really what he seems, or is there more to him than meets the eye? With her super-genius spy-trained friends to help her investigate, Cammie discovers creative ways to put into practice everything they've been learning in school. But she soon realizes that even genius girls don't always have the best judgment, and she has a whole lot to learn about romance, boys, friendship - and covert ops.
This was funny, exiting novel with an interesting premise that never took itself too seriously. Cammie is a genius, sure, but she's also fifteen and makes the same kinds of mistakes that every teenager makes - although possibly without the spy gadgets and genius pals for backup. I enjoyed listening to the audio version for the most part, although I did feel the reader's voice was a bit too breathy and sweet for a tough-as-girls spy in training. And when she did Josh's voice, it unfortunately came out sounding exactly like the voice of Bart's friend Milhouse on The Simpsons, so initially I had a hard time seeing him for the hottie Cammie and all her friends made him out to be. Still, I plan to listen to the next book in the series, because it sure was a lot of fun.
Book in the Gallagher Girls series:
1. I'd Tell You I Love You, But then I'd Have to Kill You
2. Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy
I'd Tell You I Love You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You (#1 in the Gallagher Girls series) by Ally Carter; narrated by Renee Raudman (Brilliance Audio, 2006)
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WORD for Teens