A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Evil Spy School is the third book in Stuart Gibbs' teen-spy series, following Spy Camp and Spy School. Here, Ben Ripley continues his mission as an undercover agent, only this time for the dark side. A kid-friendly distillation of the spy genre, it has gunfire, fistfights, explosions, and lots of double crossing. However, it often upends expectations to show that spying is decidedly less glamorous than it looks in the movies and that problem solving and smarts are essential to survival. As the teen spies fight bad guys, crack codes, and uncover secret missions, their biggest mission is learning to trust one another and develop a sense of ethics against the lure of weapons, gadgets, and the promise of lots of money.
What's the story?
Ben Ripley just accidentally blew up the principal's office with a round of live mortar. Now kicked out of school, he's surprised to learn that the enemy operatives at SPYDER have a job for him, offering lots of money. The trouble is, he'll have to betray everyone he's ever cared about at Spy School.
Is it any good?
EVIL SPY SCHOOL carries on the series' tradition of combining jokes, smarts, and action, including typically cinematic fight scenes, explosions, and near-death experiences. Here, Ben Ripley is finally lured to the dark side, and fans of the earlier books will enjoy more of the same wit, suspense, and double-crossing of the earlier books. This book is a little less of a page-turner, as Ben spends much more time getting his bearings with SPYDER than charging into action as in previous books.
The violence is kept to a plot-moving but not-graphic minimum, and Gibbs get points for his commitment to gender balance: Here, two teen girls have extraordinary smarts and power, and one of them even gets to be evil. Mystery fans will enjoy a balanced, fun, suspenseful tale of outsmarting evil that doesn't shortchange anyone in the process.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Evil Spy School's portrayal of intelligence. What type of smarts are valued, and why?
How does Evil Spy School portray gender in terms of spy training? Does it feel balanced? Why, or why not? Who's the top spy in the school, and why?
Do you think teens could be good spies in real life? Why, or why not? Does Evil Spy School show their limitations and strengths realistically?
- Author: Stuart Gibbs
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: April 21, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 366
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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