Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Babblings

Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs 

The Nitty Gritty: Ben "Smokescreen" Ripley has survived his first year at Spy School. a super secret facility tasked with educating America's future CIA operatives.

Smokescreen has planned a summer to end all summers. Basically he just wants to hang out with his best friend, play video games and dream about Erica Hale till his little heart bursts.

Too bad SPYDER is still trying to recruit Ben and he has to go to spy camp. The thought of spy camp doesn't not bode well for Ben, but he would rather be surrounded by woods, mosquitos and he fellow spies when SPYDER comes a knocking. At least he knows Erica will be there to thwart their plans again, and maybe this time he can be rewarded with a rare Hale smile from the spy.

Opening Line: "On the very last day os soy school, my plans for a normal, uneventful summer were completely derailed by the delivery of two letters."

The Good: I love Ben. Its awesome being inside his head. To me he is the only "real" spy in this tale. Meaning he isn't very good at it. Which you would expect from a 13 year old! If this were a fantasy or even a sci-fi book I could maybe believe that 16 year olds could dismantle nukes in under 30 seconds, but this is just a middle grades book and its hard for me to swallow sometimes. Maybe if these kids were Eureka experiments or something I could take it, but they aren't. Ben is just a regular kid that is scared of his own shadow half of the time. I like that.

Ben's growth from one book to the next tis great. We might have expected him to give 007 a run for his money in Spy Camp, but instead he has improved a little bit. He's not ready for the CIA yet, but he is better than he was when we last saw him. His character development is great and believable.

I do like that we see a kink in Erica's armor. Even if its so predictable my mom could have seen it coming. Its good to see her ruffled. It shows her age just a tad. That's a good thing.

The Bad: My suspension of belief is getting quite the workout with this series. Not only are we to believe that a group of kids make better spies than actual CIA agents, but we are also to believe that said kids are capable of repeatedly thwarting this evil organization again and again. something the actual CIA has failed to do for decades.

I am glad that one of the principles in this story is a girl. A girl no doubt that is hailed as the best spy at school. I just wish that she wasn't the typical warrior girl archetype. Erica Hale is a great spy, but that's all she really is. She doesn't have any friends, nor any functioning relationships. The men in her life are either paranoid to the point of keeping their distance, a evil double agent content on torturing her or a bumbling oaf that couldn't spy on his sleeping grandmother. Right now Erica seems flat. She isn't growing or learning a valuable lesson and this is the second book. There needs to be somewhere for her to go.

My Hope for the Series: Gibbs has grabbed my attention. I care what happens to Ben, but my feelings can go cold very quickly. I want him to get to the point in the next installment before my attention wanders.

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