Review: Don’t Judge A Girl By Her Cover By Ally Carter

Review: Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover, Ally CarterTitle: Don’t Judge A Girl By Her Cover
Author: Ally Carter:
Genre: Young Adult, Spy
Publisher: Orchard Books
Publication Date: 9 June 2009
Goodreads Summary: 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.

{ Review }

First read the reviews of books 1 and 2:

I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You 
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy 

After reading Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy (book two), I was quite keen to get started on book three. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same connection with book three as I did with book two, but it was a brilliant book nonetheless.

Don’t Judge A Girl By Her Cover starts off in the school holidays as Cammie goes to visit her friend and daughter of the future vice president, Macey McHenry. Things seem pretty normal at first until the pair of friends, and Preston Winters, son of the future president, end up on the derelict roof of a hotel. Cammie’s spy instincts kick in, but there’s nothing she can do to stop an oncoming helicopter that’s heading straight for them. Macey and Cammie manage to get Preston out of the line of fire and kick some serious ass but not without a whole heap of injuries and a thoroughly traumatic experience. It’s campaign time for Macey’s father and so she’s being transported to and from major publicity events but ever since the attacks, everyone has been on edge and the security has been topped up. Cammie’s mysterious Aunt Abby appears and takes on the role of Macey’s special security agent since she is a former Gallagher Girl herself, none of their spy school secrets are revealed. Although there has been no trace of the group that attacked Macey and Cammie on the roof, “The Operatives”, Bex, Liz and Cammie, are still highly concerned for their best friend’s safety, so they start making investigations of their own. Things don’t go so smoothly but they need to find out who the group that attacked Macey was and what they wanted.

Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy (book 2) was largely unrelated to book one in my opinion, so I was expecting book three to be a sort of stand-alone novel as well. In many ways this was the case as there was only really one plot strand that followed through into book three and that was that spy-boy Zach made a few appearances. I’m glad that he did because I was very disappointed that Josh from book one just dropped off the radar with very little explanation and I would’ve been quite annoyed if Ally Carter had done that to another one of the love interests. Although Zach and Cammie weren’t really the focus of this novel, I was glad that these little snippets were included because they added to the mystery and suspense of the novel. We’re not really sure why or how Zach keeps popping up and I don’t think it was revealed at the end of the novel so it’s all still up in the air.

Again, this book was very much focused on Cammie and her spy antics. Although the story revolves around Macey McHenry, I don’t actually think that she had that much more of a role than she does in the other books. A lot of Cammie’s action/thoughts seem to be independent of most other people and I think she did quite a lot of the work herself in this one. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing and I completely understand why this was the case (Apart from Macey, Cammie was the only one directly involved in the attack), but I felt that his book wasn’t as funny as the other two, probably because Cammie had to be serious as she was acting alone. I wish there had been more comedy, or more boarding school drama to lighten the mood but then again, we’ve already had two books of that so it was refreshing to see a change. You can definitely see a progression in Cammie’s character and their spy training. All the Gallagher Girls are becoming much more adept at their spy studies and to match that, the situations seem to be getting more dangerous and exciting.

I wasn’t particularly fond of the plot of this novel because I thought it was pretty predictable and a bit simple, but towards the end there are some pretty big plot twists which are exciting. There were a few moments throughout the book where I was pretty surprised by what was going on but it wasn’t until the cliffhanger (not really a cliffhanger, more of an open door) at the end of the novel that I felt myself really engaged. I just didn’t particularly find Macey McHenry’s personal security that interesting as a story line, but the effect of the events on Macey’s state of mind and character development was really interesting and really quite sad at times. As Macey was a ‘new’ character at the start of the novel, I always felt like she was the character we knew the least about, but after Don’t Judge A Girl By Her Cover, we’ve learnt quite a lot about what was under Macey McHenry’s hard exterior.

This book ended on a cliffhanger, unlike the previous two which had more of a sense of finality about them. I’m hoping that book four will answer the questions that arose in book three because otherwise I’m going to get very confused, very quickly. This series is definitely moving from strength to strength and I hope it continues in that way.

Anyone else read this series? Does it get better/worse? Let me know!

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