A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Strong messages about the value of smarts, problem solving, and loyalty.
Positive Role Models
Though adults are largely peripheral and usually good or bad, teens Ben and Erica have strong ethics, loyalty, and a clear sense of right and wrong.
Violence & Scariness
Fighting, gunfire, explosions, a fistfight in a cafeteria with blows to the head and neck. Narrowly dodged gunfire, gunfire from police, a near-drowning. Missile explosions send agents flying, and a girl gets punched in the stomach.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teen boys discuss hot girlfriends; girls play on the beach in bikinis while a teen boy photographs them surreptitiously with a long-lens camera; boy discusses crush on girl; boy and girl hold hands.
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Minor insults, such as "jerk," "bozo," "moron, "idiot," and "scumbag."
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.