Goodreads Description: Being permanently based in a local New York City high school as an undercover operative has its moments, good and bad, for 16-year-old safecracker Maggie Silver. Pros: More quality time with her former mark-turned-boyfriend Jesse Oliver and insanely cool best friend, Roux. Getting to spend quality time with her semi-retired and international spy honorary uncle, Angelo. Cons: High school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. But when Maggie’s parents are falsely accused of stealing priceless gold coins, Maggie uses her safecracking skills to try and clear their names. Too bad it only serves to put her and everyone she loves in danger. Maggie and her “new team” flee to Paris where they must come up with a plan to defeat their former allies.
Thoughts: Robin Benway is the master of writing smart, thoughtful books that you don’t even realize are smart or thoughtful because you’re having so much fun reading them. It’s been well established that I loved Also Known As, 50% because it’s a great book and 50% because the main character’s name is Maggie and I’m happy to say that I loved Going Rogue just as much, if not more, then I loved Also Known As.
Because I didn’t think Also Known As needed a sequel I was slightly worried going into this, but I should have just trusted Robin. In this second book in the series The Collective has gone off script and Maggie, her parents, and Angelo must go rogue. Maggie must also break out from under her parents’ careful watch and start to take on missions of her own and unfortunately Roux and Jesse get dragged into all of the craziness that ensues.
In my review of Also Known As I wrote: “Do I think a 16-year-old could really be a safecracker working with some of the top spies in the world? No. Do I think this book had a lot of absurd things happen? Absolutely. Did it matter? No.” And I still feel the exact same way. Reading about a 17-year-old breaking into a criminal mastermind’s home just doesn’t seem real to me, but the story is so fun and the characters are so great that it just doesn’t matter.
Let’s get to where I think Robin Benway really excels and that’s at blending the serious with the fun. Everything about this book is fun. Even when Maggie is in tough situations she’s still her smart, sarcastic self and that makes reading these books such a joy. But there’s also a lot of seriousness and relatable situations hidden among all the good times. When this book starts Maggie and Jesse have been dating for a little over a year and while things seemed to mostly have been good, as Maggie gets drawn back into the spy world things get tough for them. Maggie must keep secrets from Jesse and Jesse, even though he doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, is worried for Maggie’s safety and wants to protect her (in the least misogynistic way possible). Essentially these problems are variations of problems lots of people face in relationships; sometimes you have to keep secrets from those you love and sometimes you have to let people take risks and live their lives even when you want to protect them.
The same can be said for Maggie’s relationship with her parents. I absolutely love the parent-kid dynamic that they have in both books, but in this book Maggie needs to strike out on her own and put some space between herself and her parents. Not only because she’s entering her senior year of high school and getting ready to leave for college, but also because she’s working with Angelo as part of their “going rogue” on things her parents can’t know about. Even though the mission with Angelo is such a crazy thing it really struck me how Maggie’s need to assert her own independence and live her own life is just like what so many other teenagers go through.
After the perfect blend of fun and serious my favorite part of this book was obviously Angelo and Roux. So often I can’t stand supporting characters and best friends, but Angelo and Roux are something special. I loved that we got to see more of Angelo in this book and more of Angelo at work. And Roux is just amazing, I don’t think she was quite as wacky in this book, but she has some amazing moments. I mean, who else would have a Faberge egg hidden in their sock drawer?
Bottom Line: This book is so perfect for so many people. If you like fun, read this book. If you like contemporary YA novels, read this book. If you like spies, read this book. Robin Benway’s books are something truly special and if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading one of her books yet I encourage you go fix that mistake ASAP.
I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own.