Also Known As

Common Sense Media says

Teen spy falls for her mark in far-fetched but fun romance.

Age(i)

2
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9
10
11
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13
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Some good information about choosing passwords as safecracking Maggie reveals how easy they typically are to break. The combination of spying and romance in Also Known As might make it a good choice for teenage reluctant readers.

Positive messages

Even teen non-spies will understand Maggie's feelings of mistrust and sudden distance from her overprotective parents: "My parents and I had always been a team, but now it felt like me versus them, and I didn't know how to play the game." Ultimately, they renew their bonds, promising to keep counting on one another.

Positive role models

Maggie is a loyal friend who struggles with how to be honest with the new people in her life -- including a best friend and a boyfriend -- while still working on a spy mission for the greater good.

Violence

Nothing too scary. There's a mention of an attempted kidnapping that happened long ago and an assassination. In a faceoff, Maggie and her friends must run from a bad guy; Maggie's friend breaks his nose.

Sex

Maggie and her boyfriend hold hands and make out. Her friend becomes a social outcast after having sex with another girl's boyfriend.

Language

A smattering of swear words, including "a--hole," "bitch," "s--t."

Consumerism

Some name-dropping, such as Burberry and Hunter.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Maggie's friend Roux drinks until drunkenness, and also steals Xanax from her mother. She tells Maggie she used to smoke but quit. There's a party with a lot of alcohol and no parents present; Maggie notices a boy looking stoned there.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Also Known As is a fun novel about a family of spies. As such, there is lock picking, espionage, and mentions of kidnapping and assassination. In a confrontation, a man has his nose broken when a teen girl hits him in the face. There is also some swearing, kissing, and a troubled  character who drinks, takes pills, and admits have had sex with another girl's boyfriend. But, overall, the tone is fairly light, and the book's combination of spying and romance might make it a good choice for teenage reluctant readers. 

Parents say

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Kids say

What's the story?

Maggie cracked her first safe when she was 3. Now that she's 16, the agency that she and her spy parents work for -- a mysterious organization working to \"right wrongs\" around the world -- is giving her an assignment of her own: assimilating as a private high school student in New York City. If she can make friends with a \"cute and funny\" student there, and break into his father's computer, she may be able to stop a magazine from publishing a story about the agency that is \"going to name names.\" But, her mother's warning that spying \"can be more difficult if you get attached,\" proves to be prophetic.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Don't turn to ALSO KNOWN AS if you're looking  for a tightly written spy thriller. But, if you want a novel with a fun premise and a little romance, this book will do the trick. Readers may wish that the author would have peppered her story with a few more spy tricks, and a more believable conclusion, but she does a good job of introducing some realistic themes into an outlandish story. Just like most teens, safecracking genius Maggie deals with trying to be a good friend, feeling suddenly distant from overprotective parents, and uncertainty about who she really is. Oh, and she's also got to stop a bad guy out to expose her spy parents and everyone she loves.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the cover of Also Known As. Why do you think the publisher decided to depict Maggie this way -- from the waist down in a short skirt? Do you think it conveys the story and her character well?

  • Why do you think books and movies about spies are so popular? What other novels about spying have you enjoyed?

  • Do you think Maggie should have befriended a girl who had spread rumors for years and had sex with another girl's boyfriend? Do you think people can change? How do you know when someone deserves a second chance?

Book details

Author:Robin Benway
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, High school
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Walker and Co.
Publication date:February 26, 2013
Number of pages:320
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle, Nook, Paperback

This review of Also Known As was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byRachelC05 March 4, 2013
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

review

i loved it!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byCastryha June 25, 2013
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Kinda Slow

When I first started reading this book, I loved it and hoped I could give it at least four or five stars. I'm sad that it's only three, but glad it's not any lower than that. Also Known As is a funny book, but not one that made me want to keep turning the pages. It's the kind of book where you don't have to do much thinking, so it was pretty easy, and the characters weren't bad at all. Maggie's great, but I think she seems a bit too hyper or jokes too much. It was hard to put my finger on, but overall this was an OK book.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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