Category: Espionage


I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You
by Ally Carter
ISBN-13: 978-1423100041
Hyperion Books, New York, 2007
288 p.

GENRE: Chick-lit, Espionage, Romance

TEASER: Being a spy in training is easy. Trying to convince the boy of her dreams that she is a normal teenage girl may prove impossible.

SUMMARY: Cammie (Chameleon) Morgan is a fifteen-year-old student at Gallagher Academy, a top-secret boarding school for spies. Here students are taught how to deactivate a bomb using tweezers and a hair pin, speak fifteen languages, and kill a man in several different ways. On a practice mission, Cammie meets a boy, a normal boy. Now Cammie has her toughest assignment yet, pretend to be a normal teenage girl. How long can she juggle a double life and can she keep Josh from finding out who she really is?

CRITIQUE: This is a fun, light read. There is not a lot of diversity or development of the characters. Cammie shows some development throughout as she debates whether she has what it takes to be a real spy ad continue onto the more advanced training. She slowly gains more confidence in her abilities as a spy and her self image as a teenage girl. Cammie’s character is very relatable. She is smart and confident in her abilities as a spy but completely self conscious about how other people see her. There isn’t much complexities for the other characters. Carter gives you the feeling that Joe’s Solomon is hiding something. There are also brief hints of her mother’s inner feelings. She is normally seen as always put together and calm, but Cammie catches her crying alone at one point on her father’s birthday. I have a feeling that more of the characters will develop as the series continues.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ally Carter is a pen name. She is very protective about any information pertaining to he identity. After countless letters from fans wanting to write reports she finally decided to release some biographical information. She was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her mother was a teacher and her father was a farmer and rancher. She admits to being very active in high school organizations.

She has degrees from Oklahoma State University and Cornell University. She is the bestselling author of the Gallagher series and the Heist Society series. Her books have been published in over twenty countries.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://allycarter.com/

READING LEVEL: 13+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: N/A

DEFENSE: N/A

CURRICULUM TIES: N/A

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Joe Solomon is the new teacher keeping everyone on their toes. Do you think he is hiding something? Do you think it has something to do with Cammie’s father?

WHY INCLUDED: I wanted to include a spy novel for girls. We can’t let the boys have all the fun now can we?

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Stormbreaker (Alex Rider Series) by Anthony Horowitz
ISBN-13: 978-0142412121
Puffin Books, New York, 2000
388 p.

GENRE: Action Adventure, Espionage

TEASER: All Alex Rider wanted was to be a soccer play. After his uncle’s death he is unwillingly enlisted into Britain’s secret service and complete the mission that killed his uncle.

SUMMARY: After Alex Rider’s uncle dies mysteriously in a car accident, Alex begins to suspect that his uncle wasn’t who he appeared to be. He was in fact, a spy for the Britain’s secret intelligence agency. Now they want Alex to finish the mission that got his uncle killed. He only has two weeks to get through the training that will prepare him for the adventure of his life.

The Mission: He must disguise himself as Felix Lester, the contest winner for the Stormbreaker project. The Stormbreaker is a highly advanced computer created by Herod Sayle. Herod Sayle has stated that he will give away one Stormbreaker to every secondary school in the United Kingdom. There will be a grand activation ceremony at the Science Museum in London. Alex must find out what Herod Sayle has planned before the activation ceremony.

CRITIQUE: The story is written in third person subjective view through the protagonist Alex Rider. There are brief moments in the story that are written in a objective third person perspective. While I did appreciate the shift in perspective to get an idea of what was going on around Alex that he was not aware of, the shifts were sometimes a little confusing. There was not a noticeable break from Alex’s voice to the voice of his onlookers. This became confusing in parts where Alex is being observed by other characters.

As any good spy novel should be, this book is action packed and keeps you on your toes. I was a bit disappointed by the villan. When he described her evil plot I was a bit let down. I expected sometime more diabolical. The characters were interesting for the most part. They were all fairly one-demensional. If you look really hard, you can see a change in Alex from not wanting to be involved to caring about stopping the bad guys. However, I didn’t go into the novel expecting great literary quality. It is funny and a definite page-turner.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anthony Horowitz is an English novelist and screenwriter. He was born to a wealthy family in Stanmore, Middlesex. His father, a businessman threatened by bankruptcy, hid away all his money under a false name. He died shortly afterwards. His mother never was able to find where he hid the money. Horowitz says these events greatly shaped his character and his writing.

He has written over fifty books. He is the creator and writer for the British television series Foyle’s War, Midsummer Murders, and Collision. He is not only responsible for the popular Alex Rider series but also the Diamond Brothers series, the Gatekeepers series, and many other titles. He resides in London with her wife and two children.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://www.anthonyhorowitz.com/

READING LEVEL: 10+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: There could possibly be challenges for violence and terrorism.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.

CURRICULUM TIES: N/A

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Alex’s character is extremely brave, some might say crazy, do you think this makes it hard for the reader to relate to him?

WHY INCLUDED: I wanted to include a spy novel geared towards boys. I had seen this series many times while shelving. I passed them by because the covers are quite masculine. I was surprised how much I loved this book. Even if it is marketed to boys, it could appeal to both males and females.