Monday 16 June 2014

Book Review - Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover

Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover
Author: Ally Carter
Series: Gallagher Girls #3
Genres: Mystery, Contemporary | Young Adult
Release Date: May 2009
Publishers: Orchard Books
No. Pages: 304
Source: Purchased
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
When Cammie 'The Chameleon' Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she's in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she's there to watch Macey's father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world's best school (for spies), 'exciting' and 'deadly' are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers' plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.
As her junior year begins, Cammie can't shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn't feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion's corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe?
Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey's private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth.

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

Don't Judge a Girl gave me everything I'd Tell You I Love You and Cross My Heart gave me and more, more boy spy work, more secrets, more development and more boy drama, but most of all, Don't Judge a Girl gave me one heaped serving of real life with a side serving of 'holy shomoly I didn't see that coming' and I couldn't have wished for and wanted anything different or better than what Carter gave me. She takes this book series further into dangerous territory book by book, and now, Cammie and myself as a reader, are finally getting some answers..

Unlike it's predecessors, Don't Judge A Girl doesn't start with something smooth and easy to let you fall into the story, it starts with an attempted kidnap and not one tiny part of the operation is a set up. Right off the bat, Carter ensured that I knew this wasn't just going to be another happy-go-lucky journey with some practice set up's; there are other players involved who are quicker, faster and better trained than the girls, and they have their own agenda, something that really hadn't been highlighted or covered within the first two books, and this serving of reality hit me and the character's square in the face. The dramatic shift in dynamics and development of the four girls was huge after the first few chapters; Cammie and Macey struggled to find the real Gallagher Girl in them both for a lot of this story, while Bex and Liz stepped up a gear in support and their talents, Bex proving she's more than just a British pretty face, and Liz proving that you don't have to kick-ass to be a great spy. The whole relationship between the four friends was relaly tested in this book, and I genuinely feel as though I had connected to them and related to them completely and unconditionally, which is both absolutely wonderful and absolutely petrifying all at the same time. These aren't just your average group of friends, they're spies in training, ready to fool you, lie to you and leave you focusing entirely on the wrong thing at the wrong time, and Carter is an author that follows her character's lead; I really want to trust her, but I really really don't.

This installments premise and plot was much better than the previous books; it was much more real, much heavy and relied a lot of on the skills of the girls in the real world, with no back-up, no support and no teachers to jump in and safe the day and give you an A. The missions the girls went on were dangerous, the people they had to learn to trust were possibly untrustworthy and when you then add Zach into the equation, mysterious, slightly cocky and very enigma like Zach, the entire plot made for plot twists, changes of tactic and some real interesting confronting scenes. The constant focus on whether Zach liked Cammie was something that did great on me after around half way, and as I mentioned in Cross My Heart, I can understand that a girls heart is her biggest weakness, but seriously girls, you had bigger fish to fry, and Zach isn't even than nice 'a fish. The added influence of using their skills they'd learnt that term, the disguises and false tracks to hide in plain sight and to trick others was utterly fantastic, and some of the simplest of scenes, the train scene with Macey and Abby, the outside stage scene with Gallagher Girls and Secret Service; the world got bigger, it got more dangerous, and Cammie and the girls become less and less safe, it was a feature I really really loved. I thought it was about time Carter put their theories and skills to test out in the real field, and yes, I loved it all, and no, I wasn't at all prepared for how I felt at the end of this book, but I was more than impressed by how well she'd executed the entire thing.

It's always difficult to pinpoint the things I like about the installments in this series because I just find the execution, the flow and the writing to be absolutely fantastic, I find myself more immersed in the story than actually experiencing anything I dislike. For me, this book wasn't all about the spy work or the training, it was about relationships, the past, the future and feeling safe in a world that is anything but. All of the relationships in this story were put to the tests, family ones, friendship ones, teaching and student ones and the ones between both sexes, and the thought that all their training, all their skills and all their intelligence still isn't enough to prepare them for the real world and prepare me for their world is a scary concept. The girls had had it too easy for too long, and now, the world is biting back. Finding out more about Cammie and her background is the top priority for me now, and I'm seriously hoping that Only The Good Spy Young doesn't just give me more about Cammie and the girls, but gives me more on their past, more on Zach, more on Soloman and Blackthorne, and most of all, more real life, because while real life is scary, it's so important and vital to this series.


  1. It sounds like this one hit the ground running. I always like it when a book does a quick entry into the story.

  2. I remember really enjoying this book in the series myself, I thought it was a really great instalment. I definitely want to get back into this series now that I own them all. The 4 or 5 that I did read were all really great & they're quick reads as well, which always helps.

    1. It'd be a nice reread for you I think, something quick and simple to get back onto your reading spree :)


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