By Reviewer Shawna
Title: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls)
Author: Ally Carter
CBA or ABA? ABA
Primary Audience/age group: Teen
# Of pages: 284
Year of Release: 2006
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 2 (so far)
Rating: 3 (See Below)
Description: To the outside world The Gallagher School for Exceptional Young Women is just an ordinary high society prep school. But Cammie and the other girl geniuses at her school aren’t just snotty rich girls. They’re spies in training with Cammie’s mom as their headmistress. But has Cammie met her match this semester as local boy, Josh, steals her heart? Sure she can dismantle a bomb and disarm any assailant, but can she date the guy of her dreams and still keep the dangerous secrets of her school hidden?
Review: First of all, what a fun idea for a book. Teenage girls as lethal weapons. Very awesome. The best part of the book for me was Cammie’s sharp wit that adds to her likableness as the main character. She’s not only witty but smart although her humor on occasion is crude and somewhat suggestive. There are a few concerns as a parent, but the book is very much light-hearted.
Positive: Cammie has a great relationship with her mom, especially since she lost her dad during one of his spy missions. Cammie isn’t as caught up with appearances as much as some of her other classmates. She also looks for the good in people, especially in her relationship with Josh. Although Cammie lies to him and sneaks out to see him, he ends up being a really decent guy. Cammie notices that he is very courteous and tells his mother that he loves her.
Spiritual Elements: There are no heavy religious connotations. One line in the book has Cammie thinking she is receiving “Karmic payback” for having to run home in wet jeans after having ice cream and a corn dog when she was supposed to be focused on a mission.
Violence: The book has several instances of mild violence meant to be humorous such as a sword that’s been jolted with electricity being touched by a freshman girl and catching her hair on fire. Several rumors are spread about teachers about how they killed various other spies in odd/funny ways.
One scene was particularly dark, but it wasn’t real. It was only meant to show the girls how serious their career choice of being a spy really is. Cammie’s classmates, Bex and Liz, were caught during a class Cove-ops assignment. Mr. Solomon shows slides of both girls beaten and bruised. He hints at them being tortured then reveals that the pictures were fakes.
Language: D***, h***, and bloody h*** are used. On a couple of occasions, Cammie hears other characters swearing, but in a different language. The words are not spelled out though. The “b-word” is used several times. It is not spelled out because that type of language is against the rules at the school. Macey calls Bex the “b-word.” Cammie feels that type of language is used by the inarticulate. But, she later refers to Macey and her mother as “the b-word.”
Sexual Content: The new teacher, Mr. Solomon is referred to as hot, a hottie, and sexy on many occasions. Cammie’s mom, Mrs. Morgan, is referred to as a hottie as well. One of the rumors at school was new teacher Mr. Solomon had killed a Turkish ambassador with a thong. Cammie’s remark: she wasn’t sure "whether he meant the sandals or the panties." Macey refers to Mr. Solomon as “an inappropriate-conduct case looking for a place to happen” then hints about how Cammie’s mother, Headmistress Morgan, brought him on staff for only one reason…you fill in the blank. Mr. Solomon then requires his class to meet him outside in plain clothes for their first Cove-ups mission. Most of the girls are very excited and want to dress to “impress” him. However, Cammie feels this is nonsense because dressing in sexy clothing doesn’t really matter “in real spy life.”
A lot of the sexual situations in the book are about things that might happen as opposed to what really happens. For instance, there's only a couple of kisses between Cammie and Josh, nothing I feel was inappropriate. But, Cammie jokes about being proud of the fact that Macey thought she could have gone to second base.
Other: Macey, is a provocative character who has a nose ring, smokes, and wears ultra mini skirts. She also hints at being anorexic saying things like, “Food was so yesterday,” and I only eat 800 calories a day.
Lying is a huge theme in the book. The girls are taught to lie in a sense that spies in real life pretend to be someone else in order to gain and keep secrets. Cammie takes the lying to the next level when she makes up a new life for herself in order to see Josh. She sneaks out with the help of her friends to go out on several dates. The girls go above and beyond to find out details of Josh’s life in order to see if he is who he says he is by sneaking into his house, searching his garbage, and reading his emails. Spoiler warning: Instead of punishment for endangering herself and her school and sneaking out with a boy Cammie is praised by her mother for the best Cove-ops mission the school has ever seen. It seems as though her punishment does not fit the crime here.
Rating: 3 for talk of sexual situations, sexual humor, and an intense violence sequence.
Recommendation: Although Cammie is a sixteen year old girl, her wit sometimes crosses the line into somewhat sexually suggestive humor. To me, she seemed to have more innocence than what some of the lines that were given to her had. The book also deals with the girls dressing in sexy clothing to impress the opposite sex, which I feel is an issue that needs to be discussed with teenage girls since we live in a society that promotes the wearing of provocative clothing even at a young age. As well, I didn’t like how Cammie seemed to avoid punishment for sneaking out and lying. However, measures are taken to prevent this type of incident from happening again, and Cammie is punished in accordance to the rules of the spy school in the sequel “Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy.”
I loved the concept of the book. I do feel it is more appropriate for an older audience and would definitely not recommend it to anyone under the age of 15. Girls need to understand that sneaking out to be with a boy is not appropriate behavior. Going to second base isn’t something that should be glamorized seeing that as Christians we teach God’s word of staying virtuous until marriage. Reading the book as an adult, I didn’t find it very offensive. I thought it was a cute story with both action and romance. And I thought the second book was even better than the first. I will review it as well.