Hi everyone! I’m back with another book review. Today’s book, Ally Carter’s Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy!
This is the 2nd book in Carter’s Gallagher Girl series. If you missed it and want to check it out, I did a review on the first book, I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You.
Oh fun story, I’m sick again! Poor me… It’s just a cold this time, thankfully, but I have quite the headache today (writing this on Sunday) and I keep sneezing (a lot) and blowing my nose (also a lot). Apparently a symptom of a cold is run-on sentences. Great.
So about the review. I’ll do a spoiler free version with a summary to start off with. After the spoiler free section is done I’ll put a warning followed by the photo of the book cover. The full review (with spoilers) will be next and once that’s done I’ll put the photo of the cover again so if you want to avoid spoilers just scroll until you see the book again. Obviously the spoiler free section will not have spoilers on this book but may spoil the first book if you haven’t read it so beware!
Here we go!
Summary & Spoiler Free Review
The book picks up almost immediately after the first book ends, at the end of the winter break following the semester’s events. Cammie is convinced she’s moved on from Josh and is determined to go through the next semester by staying under the radar. Of course, that doesn’t happen when Cammie and her classmates learn that there is a boys equivalent of their school who will be making a guest appearance on their campus. When the boys arrive, their school’s status as a top secret institution is at risk and they must work quickly to both prove Cammie isn’t the risk and uncover who is.
Overall, the book did a great job picking up where the story left off. There was still quite a lot of repetitive “oh my gawd I go to SPY SCHOOL but let me say it again for the people in the back I GO TO SPY SCHOOL” inner dialogue for Cammie but towards the end of the book I either became immune to it or it finally went away.
The characters stayed true to the development they experienced in the first book. Cammie still displays a natural talent for spying although a serious, and worrisome, lack of common sense. Bex continues to beat everyone up in class, Liz is happily off in the safety of her lab work, and their classmates are all trying to navigate their Covert Operations course with a surprising lack of instruction. Macey, the new comer in the first book, is still my favorite despite how little page time she gets. She’s dedicated to her studies, working to catch up to her roommates and displays real talent. Even though she’s about a year or two behind in schoolwork she is still caught up in a lot of the shenanigans going around and keeps up perfectly.
Of course, we got to know some boys that are also studying espionage and their Cammie equivalent, Zach, is very good at it as well. As someone who went to school with boys her entire life, it was hilarious to read the girl’s reactions to this. Of course, Macey kept her cool, but everyone else? Not a chance. Remember their reaction to Mr. Solomon in book one? Yup, exactly like that. They’re so funny!
Ultimately I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars, changed it to 2 out of 5 stars, but I’m thinking of bumping it up to 3 again. It just wasn’t as good as the first book to me, for reasons that I will detail in my full review. Speaking of, we’re moving into the spoilery review so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip down to after the second photo of the book below!
So right away Cammie is going to be debriefed in Washington DC for her Josh incident. I didn’t quite see the point of it as it concluded with the acknowledgement that Josh got the memory altering tea and Cammie formally stated she wasn’t going to try to restart the relationship again. Still, the school is meant to be top secret so perhaps that’s why such a response was warranted in the eyes of the author. Also it does sound cool.
One of the biggest issues I had with the book, and the reason why I couldn’t give it more stars, was how inadequate the Gallagher Girls’ education seems to be compared to the Blackthorn Boys’ education. The boys, particularly Zach, are displayed as highly skilled students, and they get to learn about the Gallagher Girls before they even know Blackthorn is a thing. Of course, Cammie & Co know because they self appointed themselves to investigating that mission on their own.
Right away, Cammie is bested by Zach as she practically walked him all the way to where her class was gathering. Going forward, the boys seem to know so much more and have much more skills than the girls do, including Zach easily finding the bugs that Cammie and her friends left in the boys rooms. While they were planting the bugs Cammie even notes that they haven’t covered that subject yet, but it seems the boys have.
The boys were of course interesting at first, but because it’s a YA book and under 300 pages, we didn’t get too much development on them besides the main guy character, Zach. I was surprised Carter didn’t take the opportunity to really showcase Bex here, or even Liz but again, the boys seemed to outshine the girls in all opportunities which was so disappointing.
The only moment the girls seem to come out on top is when Cammie reveals that she responds to Zach’s “Gallagher Girl” comment when they first officially meet by greeting him as “Blackthorn Boy” and surprises Mr. Solomon and Zach. Other than that, they don’t really get the chance to shine. She pretty much does a 180 when she forgets she’s on comms while bumping into Josh and DeeDee in town. Sigh.
Macey did get a bit of a moment for herself when she moved up to the 9th grade. As I said earlier, she shows the most promise due to her natural talent at being a spy. She doesn’t get the same classes as Cammie, Bex, Liz, and the rest of their age group but if she needs to think on her feet she does so easily. She even has to save Cammie on various occasions. Her character is just amazing and I hope that she gets more page time later. One of my favorite parts was at the beginning of the book when she mentions her father was mad about her grades, A’s and B’s, as he assumed she was cheating. Her solution? Study harder to get all A’s. Now that’s a Gallagher Girl if I ever saw one!
I also loved how Liz is off making her own path. While Cammie and Bex continue trying to be spies out on the field, Liz immediately takes the opportunity to drop Covert Operations as that’s just not her thing. It was great seeing as how she really isn’t meant for field work. While it was sad when Cammie and Bex watched Liz head off to her lab classes, it was nice to see her character take off to her chosen path.
The ending was pretty exciting though. I loved that the girls went off and ditched the boys who then had to scramble to catch up to them. It was nice to see them all working together and getting the job done. I think that the girls did show a lot of promise at this point and were the ones to bring together the entire operation but the boys did ultimately have to help them out in order to save the disc with the identities of all the Gallagher Girls.
Honestly, the book wasn’t all that bad, but the fact that the boys seemed to be lightyears ahead of the girls in terms of classes and skills was so disheartening that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how they all match up in the future, as the ending did allude that the Blackthorn Boys would make an appearance again in the series.
So that’s my review on Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy! Let me know if you’ve read this series and if so, should I continue? I do already have the next book from the library so it’s certainly doable!
Update on my cold, in the time it took me to write this (a long time as I kept getting distracted by tea, cookies, and YouTube) I took a cold medicine powder tea and my sinuses feel better and my headache went away! Still sneezing a lot though. Oh also my mom came in with a braid of her hair that she chopped off and it didn’t go so well. I wonder if she managed to fix it herself as she hasn’t come back since. It’s quite an eventful weekend!
Thanks for reading!
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