Also Known As by Robin Benway


Challenge 10 ~ “A mystery or thriller.”

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Some would say that with such a plot, writing style, audience etc. that Benway is playing it safe with such a novel, but I would disagree. Benway takes it back to the basics, and it pays off. There’s no mind-blowing writing technique or a plot that nobody’s thought about before, but the characterisation and pacing displays pure literary finesse. It’s a fine reassurance that there are still writers out there who can actually write.

Before getting too far, the reader is already strongly set for the rest of the story (and without an overload of description and family backgrounds!) Benway continues this with a fine balance of action and reality, moulding Maggie into a believable character. In fact, I was pretty enamoured by how well Benway captured Maggie’s character, and by how realistic Roux managed to feel despite her eccentricities.

As several of you will know, I’m also not keen on pointless romantic side stories. Speaking from my experience, life is not a huge adventure with the permanent accompaniment of some boy who is inexplicably caught up in your troubles. Benway’s Jesse/Maggie story, however, seemed to have a purpose – and, yes, was perfectly predictable (which in itself was rather reassuring.)

There was a minor little blip towards the end in which Maggie revealed all to Roux. From my perception of the character, I felt this was a rather out-of-character move for Maggie to make, although the responses of the other characters seemed to be fairly accurate. I understand this was key to the storyline (although I actually didn’t see it coming), but it made me feel as if there was a slight discrepancy in Maggie’s character (either in this moment, or in how she had been previously portrayed).

I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the novel. When I was younger, I always joined espionage tales (especially those set in a familiar environment, like school) and many would say that’s why I enjoyed it, because there was nothing else special or unpredictable about the story. On the other hand, surely this means I’m more critical of the sub-sub-sub-genre, because I’ve read so much and seen so many attempts to tame it?

Recommended for fans of:

  • I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
  • Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
  • The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

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