A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Kids will learn a bit about survival in the wilderness, such as the usefulness of duct tape and solid critical thinking skills.
Spy Camp portrays intelligence, quick thinking, and resourcefulness in a positive light. It imparts valuable lessons about self-confidence, viewing others compassionately in spite of their limitations, and the importance of putting differences aside to work as a team, particularly in a crisis. It also conveys the notion that people are not always what they appear, and should be given greater consideration.
Positive Role Models
Teen characters are realistically concerned with appearances, popularity, members of the opposite sex, and fitting in. Adults are often present and caring. Characters who are flawed are often portrayed as having some genuine motive, and therefore not entirely simply good or bad. In one instance, characters steal items without consequence. There's excellent gender parity, with female characters shown as capable and intelligent as the boys, if not more so.
Violence & Scariness
There's sustained peril and frequent violence. A pond with Koi fish in it is electrocuted, killing the fish. There are multiple instances of explosions, such as blowing up a mine and destroying a mountain. A man is sedated with an injection. A character dies in an explosion, but it's not described graphically.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Boys often discuss girls in terms of their "hotness." There's frequent discussion of a crush a boy has on a girl, with the boy often imagining the two on dates.
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Frequent name-calling typical of teens, with put-downs such as "wuss," "dork," and "whack-job."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A stolen drug is used to inject a man with a sedative.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Spy Camp, the sequel to Spy School, is a mystery about a summer camp that trains teens to be future spies and is full of the sustained peril and weapons-obsessed mayhem typical of the spy genre. In this series, the violence is more cartoonish than realistic and often plays for humor. A character dies in an explosion, but it's not graphic, and there's no bloodshed. The book also has a few instances of stealing to aid a character, for which there are no consequences. There's no swearing but frequent name-calling typical of teens, such as "wuss," "dork," and "whack-job."
Is It Any Good?
As a sequel, Spy Camp ups the ante in terms of action sequences and thrilling moments. It's written near-cinematically in terms of pacing and visual thrills, so it's no surprise that author Stuart Gibbs has also written for film and television.
Kids who loved Spy School will find Ben more confident as he travels deeper into the labyrinth of the covert operations underworld here, but the familiar nods to history, nerdy endeavors, and dorky humor will still entertain. Parents can appreciate that this sequel continues to set a high bar for marrying the guilty pleasure of blockbuster spy movies with an affection for big words, history, and an admiration for experience and wisdom, and also gets gender parity right.
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.