Series Review : Gallagher Girls

James Bond.  Jason Bourne.  Alex Rider. Maxwell Smart.  What do all of these fictional characters have in common?  They are all spies.  They are all male.  And they are all very good at their jobs (well, except for Maxwell Smart).  But how do spies learn what they need to know?

Welcome to the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a very exclusive boarding school for teenage girls who have been accepted because of their intelligence and skills.  But this isn’t merely a high-priced school for geniuses.  It’s actually a very, very secret all-girl school for spies-in-training.  Students learn to speak fluently in fourteen languages and practice advanced martial arts.  They attend classes in chemical warfare, advanced encryption, and covert operations.

Cammie Morgan and her roommates are 15 when the series begins.  On a classroom assignment to practice their spy skills in a nearby town, she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she is just an ordinary girl—and realizes the one thing that she has not learned at the Gallagher Academy is how to be a normal girl.

Though the first book is fun and full of action, it is fairly fluffy—not really the type of series that I would necessarily continue.  But as Cammie grows older, the situations that she finds herself in become more complicated, as do her relationships with her roommates and friends and her mother (the Academy’s headmistress).   She and her friends are distinct and realistic (as realistic as genius teen girls in a secret spy school can be), and all the major characters mature throughout the series.

And the books become much more serious, too. The girls find out that an ancient terrorist organization is hunting for someone—but who?  And why?  As the latest book begins, Cammie regains consciousness and realizes she has lost her memory of the summer.  Was she kidnapped?  Tortured?  Did she betray her school and her friends?

Despite the maturing of the books, they all remain very clean.  Boy-girl relationships don’t go past kissing, and I don’t think I recall even a damn or a hell.  It goes to show that YA books don’t need swearing and sex to be romantic, exciting, and suspenseful.

After reading the first book, I have listened to all of the audiobooks.  Renee Raudman does a spectacular job of giving each character a distinct voice.  (On a very personal note:  Thank you, Ally Carter, for creating Joe Solomon, the covert operations teacher; and thank you, Renee, for giving him such a dreamy voice.  Just like the girls in his classes, I think I’m in love.)

I only listen to books in the car, and I got wrapped up in the latest book on my way home Saturday.  So, since my to-do list included dusting and weeding (both my garden and my library), I decided to take a long drive through the Minnesota countryside and finish my book.  The drive was relaxing, the countryside was beautiful, and the book was great!

The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter. 2012. Gr 7-12.

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You. 9781423100034. 2006.

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy. 9781423100058. 2007.

Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover. 9781423116387. 2009.

Only the Good Spy Young. 9781423128205. 2010.

Out of Sight, Out of Time. 9781423147947. 2012.

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