Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he’s already pegged his dream job: C.I.A. or bust. Unfortunately for him, his personality doesn’t exactly scream “secret agent.” In fact, Ben is so awkward, he can barely get to school and back without a mishap. Because of his innate nerdiness, Ben is not surprised when he is recruited for a magnet school with a focus on science—but he’s entirely shocked to discover that the school is actually a front for a junior C.I.A. academy. Could the C.I.A. really want him?Actually, no. There’s been a case of mistaken identity—but that doesn’t stop Ben from trying to morph into a supercool undercover agent, the kind that always gets the girl. (goodreads summary)
Ben Ripley does the same thing everyday feeling that his life is not very interesting. That is...until he arrives home from school one day and finds Alexander Hale, CIA Agent/Spy sitting in his kitchen. His life changes abruptly when he discovers he has been recruited to attend the Academy of Espionage of the CIA. Ben has dreamed of becoming a spy and chooses to leave his family and friends, who all think he will be attending a Science Academy because of his nerdiness and high math skills. He soon learns that he has been recruited for his cryptography skills and finds on his first day that there are others who also want him for various reasons as well. He is thrown full force into the world of fighting ninjas, nonstop action and danger, assassins, secret tunnels, bombs, kidnapping and of course, Erica the pretty girl, who is also the daughter of Alexander Hale. Ben and Erica team together in hot pursuit of exposing a mole at the Academy who is leaking information to a special secret agency about Ben's ability and a secret code he may have developed. With Ben's life on the line and danger at every turn, he will soon know if he really has what it takes to be a special CIA agent or stay in his uninteresting life but only if he makes it through this adventure alive.
This book is definitely for the reader who loves action, adventure and anything spy related. It has twists and turns in every chapter and there were so many characters involved that it took awhile for the mole to be revealed. It was fun to try and figure out who I thought the mole was only to find that I was wrong more than once. The story was fast-paced and may attract the attention of reluctant readers. It is not only for boys who like spy novels but girls may find this likable as well. Erica is a strong main character and portrayed as a heroine in many instances as she saves Ben from danger on more than one occasion. She definitely has spy skills and intelligence and knows how to use them. The adults in the book though are quite clueless and the kids are definitely the ones who are written with all the smarts. It does have a wide variety of good vocabulary giving kids an opportunity to find new words. I did find minor cursing starting about 25 pages in and a couple other times towards the end. The action and peril is ongoing throughout each chapter moving you to the next one quickly. In such a short time, Ben does show character development and discovers that he is capable of more than he thought and what it really means to be a CIA agent. There is good indication that there is room for another book or two with Ben and his Espionage friends in the future. I think this is a "just right book" for grades 6-8.~
Title: Spy School
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Genre: fiction, adventure
Pub. date: March 2012, Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, 291 pages