I have been a loyal Ally Carter fan ever since I first picked up I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You in middle school, but I think it’s time to acknowledge that perhaps I am aging out of her target audience and her writing in general. I ran into the same issues with See How They Run that I did with Embassy Row, and I don’t know if it’s this series, or if I am getting too old for Ally Carter.
In terms of storytelling and crafting a plot, See How They Run is rock solid. The plot itself is engaging and is pretty much the only reason I finished the book as quickly as I did, because trying to wade through paragraphs of Grace’s internal dialogue is wearying. Like with Embassy Row, I found the portrayal of Grace’s mental illness to be really fascinating. I think Carter is good at bringing the reader into Grace’s headspace–I could feel Grace’s panic and confusion. But Grace’s immense guilt and self-blame, while understandable, becomes repetitive and tiring. I found it to be rather self-centered and I still do not like her much as a character.
The writing itself, while great with action and plot, feels a little too juvenile and naive for me. For a novel rife with conspiracy and international “politics,” it is very light on any real politics. The concept of having these novels set among teens in an international scene whose every action has international implications is very interesting, but also implies a sophistication and discussion of politics that does not exist. Of course, to do so would probably be a bit too heavy for sixteen-year-olds and the target audience, but it is one of the reasons why I struggle to like this novel. I think teenagers could handle a bit of politics.
It’s rather crazy to realize that I picked up my first Ally Carter book ten years ago and have read every single one of her young adult novels since then. Unfortunately, she still writes for the middle schooler/young high schooler that I once was when I first picked up her books, and I am no longer that girl. I wish her books could age with her original fans, but it also makes that they don’t. I’m not going to jump ship just yet, but I think it’s time that I acknowledge I can’t go into her novels with the same expectations that I had as a high schooler reading Gallagher Girls.