I’m really glad I gave this series a second chance.
I liked Also Known As, (really!) but my main issue with it was a lack of actual espionage. There was a botched job at the newspaper owner’s house and the big conclusion, but for the most part the first book is about interpersonal relationships. Friendship, romance, letting your teen leave the nest...typical high school stuff. And I thought it suffered for that.
Have no fear, Going Rogue never once sets foot inside a school. The relationships from book one are carried over: Maggie’s still dating Jesse, still bffs with Roux, still trying to find a kid/coworker balance with her parents, but the actual spy work has been ramped way up.
Maggie’s retired from spying to finish high school, but the whole family’s dragged back in when it turns out that the rogue spy from the last book may not have been the only agent to turn. The Collective accuses Maggie’s parents of using their hacker/linguistic, (that’s what dad does!,) skills to steal some ridiculously valuable gold coins. Rather than sit back and let the family be burned, Mags teams up with Angelo to clear the family name.
You can guess how that plan goes.
I really liked seeing Maggie do something this time around. Not just safecracking, but casing, researching, and lifting evidence. She still has too much of a tendency to talk about her job in public, but this time she notices shadowy figures, destroys SIM cards, and just generally acts like a spy with a decade plus of training. Very exciting.
Beyond the actual heist parts, the characters really make the novel. Roux and Jesse are officially part of the team, because we can’t just let civvies run around and tell all of our secrets. Roux remains delightfully exuberant and is thrilled to be included, though the new vulnerability she shows is special and very well written. Jesse, too, is struggling in this book, but never falls into the douchebag role that a lot of other YA boyfriends do.
Additionally, the relocation to Paris gives the book a chance to introduce three other teenage spies, Ryo, Élodie, and Ames. All three were fun additions, though Ryo and Élodie could have stood more characterization. I’m afraid I’m still not clear on their “clean up Paris” scheme. Their inclusion lets us see both how the Collective recruits spies and dumps them when they're done.
Going Rogue is a fun, fast paced adventure that was not only extremely enjoyable, but surprisingly tense. The new city and expanded backstories help flesh out the world building. The climax is very satisfying, showing both the full depth of the corruption and the heroes' strengths. It may end a little bittersweet, but the series is left open to grow in any number of ways, just like Angelo’s phoenix.