Spy School

Stuart Gibbs. Simon & Schuster, $15.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-44242-182-0
In Gibbs’s (Belly Up) addition to the “child spy” genre, the CIA is (yet again) secretly recruiting kids, and Ben Ripley is the awkward 12-year-old brought into the academy, in this case under the pretense of attending a science-oriented boarding school in Virginia. The clichés (and plot holes) come as expected, from the ease with which Ben’s parents accept his leaving immediately for a school they’ve never visited, to Ben’s early struggles at the school and the presence of a traitor in the program. Depending on the dictates of the plot, the spies shift from hypercompetent (the CIA knows everything about Ben, including the extent of his hidden crush, and secretly inserts questions into standardized tests to assess children nationwide) to ineffectual (they are unable to identify a teenage mole or detect intruders). The supporting cast is occasionally interesting (school bully Chip makes a good early antagonist), but Gibbs doesn’t offer much in the way of originality to readers who have seen this plot before. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/09/2012
Release date: 03/06/2012
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4424-2184-4
Paperback - 290 pages - 978-1-4424-2183-7
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