Title: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You
Author: Ally Carter
Series: The Gallagher Girls
Publish Date: May 1, 2006
Genres: Adventure, Middle School, Fiction
Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it’s really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real “pavement artist”-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?
Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she’s on her most dangerous mission-falling in love.
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter, is about the elite school Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women which Cammie Morgan attends. But the school is more than just the castle-like facade that rest of Roseville, Virginia sees. Gallagher Academy is elite school for girls training to become spies. In the first book of the series Cammie “the chameleon” has all the skills and lineage to become a spy, but can she handle the real world?
I have read this book time and time again, and I even have a signed copies of many books from the Gallagher Girls series, so it’s pretty obvious that I love it. This book has everything that one could want in a teen spy book. Cammie’s three best friends are all very versatile, so everyone who reads this book can connect with either Cammie or one of those three. Bex is both dangerously beautiful and beautifully dangerous. She is adventurous and aggressive, and her flirtatious spirit makes you love her with just a little bit of jealous. And she is always breaking rules, like leaving campus or becoming the only Gallagher Girl from overseas. Liz is the clutzy but crazily intelligent wisp of a girl with no spy background. She is the hand that guides and plans all the friends crazy schemes, because even though she’s more of a behind the scenes person than a front fighter, she is essential to the team. I’d say she reminds me a bit of Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, although this series is in no one a rip off of J.K. Rowling. Macey is the spoiled bad girl, who underneath has almost all the same insecurities and softness of a regular girl. This would be a very typical character except for the fact that throughout the book Macey continually keeps a hard exterior, which makes her friends have to fight with her and for her all the time, rather than having that one “heart warming moment of internal self-actualization” that makes these individualistic characters likable. As well, Macey takes her own journey through this book, but in a different way than expected, by figuring out her potential and her lineage in her spy life. Lastly we have Cammie, the main character of the book. Cammie only sees herself as understated, because she’s a pavement artist and her codename is “the chameleon,” which means that she has the ability to blend in. But Cammie comes from a long line of spies from both sides of her family, and her mom is the headmistress of Gallagher Academy, and she is most definitely not ordinary. If this book had an ordinary setting, Cammie’s belief that she does not stand out would be annoying, because we all know she’s special, and so does Cammie. But Cammie embraces this ability to disappear, uses it to her advantage, because in the spy world being ordinary can be your most useful tool. The appeal of Cammie is that because she blends so easily, we can all see a little piece of ourselves in her.
We’ve covered relatable characters, let’s move onto action in the book. At the school, the girls don’t take regular high school classes, but courses altered to promote their spy training, as well as courses devoted solely to other covert learning skills. They have technology constantly developing and we get to see it in action during their assigned and “extracurricular” missions. Throughout the book Cammie and her friends are constantly trying to find their way into and out of trouble, for the sake of living and staying alive, and their spy skills often come in handy, making your heart beat a little faster during every scene where they nearly get caught, or actually do. Under the same umbrella as action I am going to categorize mystery, because in the life of a spy, Cammie does not know nearly every secret that entrenches Gallagher Academy and its inhabitants. Her mother, as both headmistress and spy, is frequently unavailable to Cammie due to responsibilities as the reigning faculty head and til-my-grave hushed information. It is obvious that Cammie’s mother loves her, and their tender moments are sweet and give your heart a little lift. Their relationship is special because Cammie’s father went missing on a mission years before, and although he is presumed dead, it is not certain that he is, and the two need to learn on each other in a world where you can trust no one. The school itself is old enough to have secret passageways and enough ancient history that you feel surrounded by ghosts. Cammie spends more time at the academy than any other student, and there are always more secrets to be explored and more to keep you reading.
Lastly, we look into romance. Cammie is sent out on a mission with Liz and Bex, and as a pavement artist Cammie has no problem sneaking around unseen. They must follow their most paranoid teacher at a fair, and do reconnaissance, which is Cammie’s specialty. There is a conflict while there, but Cammie ends up making out with the information she needs, and is on her way back to campus when she meets Josh, your attractive, white bread, small town guy. For some reason he manages to pick her out of the crowd. This is enough to intrigue Cammie, because her entire spy career is based around not being easily found. Their short conversation is enough to make Cammie’s spark of interest become an engulfing fire of passion. As both a spy and a student at an all-girls school, relationships are not easily come by, and Cammie and all her friends use their spy skills in unwarranted ways to find out everything they can about Josh, and help Cammie get the uncomplicated boy in her hectic life. You might think that Cammie is stupid to go after a guy when she should be training to become a spy, and especially one that can never know about her real life. But the relationship is so star crossed, so accidental, so aggravatingly impossible that you can’t help but yearn for it to be. Josh is the forbidden apple in Eden, Cammie is Eve, and his ordinary life is the voice of the serpent calling out to Cammie, and to the hopeless romantic in each one of us.
I absolutely adore this book and everything about it, and recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.