“My School is a Spy Factory (Spy Factory #1)” by Steven Stickler
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Source: The author in exchange for an honest review
Summary from Goodreads:
Sixth-grader Nate Fischer never wanted to be a spy. But when a mysterious phone call lands him at a new school, he realizes that he doesn’t have a choice: his new school is a spy factory. He barely has time to learn his locker combination before his first mission plunges him into danger. A sinister organization is trying to destroy his school and take over the world, and Nate has only a few hours to stop the evil plot.
With just a backpack full of spy gadgets, a bit of spy training, and their own cunning to guide them, Nate and his partner Lucy follow a trail of secret messages in pursuit of the one thing that can save their school from destruction. As they are chased through subway tunnels and across rooftops, Nate and Lucy must race to complete their mission before it is too late. Cracking secret codes, evading capture, and battling enemy agents—sixth grade wasn’t supposed to be like this!
We jumped right into things. We go from Nate being forced into the school to suddenly being out on a mission. There was no background on the school. We didn’t go with him to any classes, we didn’t meet any classmates or teachers. We just learned everything secondhand (“It’s like that one time in XYZ class that so and so did this”). I would have been a lot happier if we had just spent a bit of time in classes just to get a feel of the school before being sent out in the field. Even though action starts quickly enough in Harry Potter, we still go to school with him.
The story was quickly paced. That makes for fun reading. It’s definitely great for the target audience. They should have no problem devouring the book in a few sittings. The story feels a lot like the other popular books out there like 39 Clues. Fans of that series should have fun with this book.
I liked that the story wasn’t without its share of twists and turns. A lot of times books in this age range are pretty clear cut with the “good” guys and the “bad” guys. Not true with this story. We had secret agents and super secret agents. You can’t really be sure who’s on your side. It was a fun twist!
I loved the explanation for codes in the book. It was easy to understand so readers could go out and write messages in the codes. Hooray for turning the readers into spies!
The bottom line? It was a very fun read.