Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Book Rave: Also Known As by Robin Benway

Today I am raving about the fast and funny novel ALSO KNOWN AS by Robin Benway, aka writer of some of the funniest YA out there. Now you may think I'm biased because I was lucky to have Robin autograph my copy, but I'm not swayed by fancy penmanship. No, this book stands on its own. Benway's first book, AUDREY WAIT!, is one of my favorites, a rare instance of a "laugh-out-loud funny book" actually being laugh out loud funny. ALSO KNOWN AS does not disappoint and solidifies her talent and standing within the hallowed halls of YA.

Basically, the book is about a teenage spy who's sent undercover into a NY prep school to get information from a media mogul's (cute) son Jesse Pinkman Oliver. Think the first MISSION IMPOSSIBLE meets GOSSIP GIRL. You can find a more detailed description on Goodreads.

Keeping with the AKA theme, allow to share the top 3 reasons why I am raving about this book to all who will listen click on this blog post.

Amazing dialogue. I like to think that I write sharp, funny dialogue, but then I read ALSO KNOWN AS, and I want to throw my laptop into a raging fire. Why even bother? The dialogue in this book is quick, witty, filled with punchlines but also sounding like real people. As much as I love stylized dialogue, Benway manages to write real people talking like real people, just with way better comic timing. Even in the dialogue tag are flourishes of funny that seem so effortless. The standout is Maggie's best friend, shunned socialite Roux, who's a cross between the British girl on GIRLS and Karen Walker from WILL & GRACE and whose best frenemy is her doorman Harold. She needs her own series. Sample dialogue:
Roux (to a tired, depressed Maggie): Do you mind explaining to me why you're trying to make yourself look like the Phantom of the Opera?
Maggie: I burned my tongue.
Roux: That's the sign of a bad day to come. We should err on the safe side and ditch.

Kick-ass story. ALSO KNOWN AS has both style and substance. I've read YA books before that have great concepts and great characters but a weak story. While the crux of the conflict in AKA is Maggie acclimating to life with other teenagers, the details behind her "mission," stopping a magazine from leaking the list of seekrit agents, was just as interesting. It wasn't merely a plot device, and it kept me turning pages. The final thirty pages are also a big rush that you will have to finish in one sitting.

Angelo. Maggie's mentor. He's wise, chic, cool, and he needs his own show on Bravo. That's all I'm sayin'.

ALSO KNOWN AS is out now, and the sequel GOING ROGUE comes out next year.


  1. This sounds WONDERFUL. Can't wait to read it! Thanks for the rave, Philip!

  2. Oh exciting. I have this on my Kindle. I loved her first one, Audrey, Wait! - looking forward to read this as well.

    Thankfully, I have a B&N run planned this weekend.

  4. I will second that this book is epic, and that I would never have found out about this author were it not for Phil's fanboying :-)