Estelle: Going Rogue by Robin Benway

Disclaimer: This review may include some spoilers if you have not read Also Known As. Proceed with caution. 🙂

Going Rogue by Robin BenwayGoing Rogue by Robin Benway  [ website | twitter ]
Book 2 in the Also Known As series.
Publication Date: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Pages: 320
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: teenage spy, adventure, relationships with family and friends, romance
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: With spy life pushed to the wayside, Maggie has been a regular high school student hanging out with her best friend, Roux, and her boyfriend, Jesse. But she’s starting to miss the unpredictability and excitement of spy life. When the Collective starts to turn on its own members, Maggie is forced to keep secrets from her closest friends after her parents are accused of stealing two valuable gold coins. Can she prove her parents are innocent without losing what she loves most about her new life and the security of her old one?

It’s not every day you are hanging out with one of your closest friends, they mention a situation, and you are dying to interject about a book you are reading with a teenage spy in a similar situation. It sounds kind of silly, right? But with Going Rogue, even though the premise is a little out there, the themes are so relative. And that makes Robin Benway a total genius and me, a total fan.

First things first: I’m not normally a stickler about this but you should definitely check out Also Known As before reading Going Rogue. There is a quick recap early in the second book, and experiencing the first book is so much better than reading the cliffnotes version. Believe me. Plus you risk the chance of not getting the entire impact of reuniting with these characters and that would just be a total shame.

Back to the book: Without much action in the spy portion of her life, Maggie has spent a substantial amount of time being a normal high school student. (Not that Maggie is ever just normal. She’s quirky as hell and I adore her.) Her relationship with her boyfriend, Jesse, is super solid. (They are so cute in love.) And being able to let loose with her best friend, Roux (pronounced Roo), has been awesome as well. But the grass is always greener and Maggie is missing the spy life a bit. Before she knows it, the Collective (the organization her and her family have always worked for) has turned on her parents, accusing them of stealing irreplaceable gold coins. In order to keep Jesse, Roux, and her parents safe, Maggie (under the leadership of close friend/sort-of uncle: the charming Angelo) keeps the details of this investigation under wraps and hopes to get her parents out of this giant mess.

Seems stressful, isn’t it?

Maggie is clearly torn. She loves and trusts her friends, and of course, would do anything for her supportive parents but she can’t imagine putting them at risk. But the secrets cause hurt feelings, missed dinner dates, and a lot of tension between Maggie and those she holds dear. Can she ever be a normal girl and a spy? Will she always have to choose? And when will her parents accept her ability to make sensible (yet dangerous) decisions? Benway is able to take a super secret mission and make everyone’s feelings and reactions so true to feelings and reactions in our own lives.

While the adventures of Going Rogue are filled with intrigue (and danger!), the book truly shines when it comes to the characters and their relationships with one another. Even without the Collective being compromised, it’s obvious that these people from two different worlds have formed their own eclectic family. And what’s even better is that Benway has supplied each supporting character with an individual backstory and stand out personality. This kind of intimate connection between reader and supporting character is so rare in the young adult genre, and I applaud Benway’s attention to detail and talent for creating fictional characters that feel like close friends.

She’s also inspired me with a brand new theory about Angelo. In my review of AKA, I mentioned how his character of reminiscent of Michael Caine in Miss Congeniality but I’ve changed my mind. After seeing his in action in book 2, from his sacrifice to his advice to the great care he takes of Maggie, her family, and her friends, I was feeling real Dumbledore vibes. Angelo’s a little mysterious and very wise like Dumbledore was; everyone looks to him as a guide in the story. Though he certainly uses the word “love” more than Dumbledore ever did and leaves more notes, knowing Angelo was around always gave me comfort and hope that the trials would turn out okay. Most importantly, he always put others before himself.

I know sequels don’t always live up to their predecessors but that was not the case with Going Rogue. It was just as fun and bursting with personality and a great balance of suspenseful and LOL-worthy moments — a perfect way to kick off a new year of reading!

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