Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Spy School Goes South

Spy School Goes South
by Stuart Gibbs
Recommended Ages: 12+

Ben Ripley, a second-year student at the CIA's top secret Academy of Espionage, has never been particularly good at the classic cloak-and-dagger arts of disguise, self-defense or combat. But his keen eye for patterns has enabled him to spot, and then thwart, four separate schemes by the evil organization SPYDER to sow chaos and destruction.

Now one of his recurring villains, Murray Hill, has offered to lead Ben and top spy-in-training Erica straight to SPYDER's secret lair, in exchange for his freedom. Naturally, the mission goes sideways as soon as the wheels lift off the runway. The CIA is even more riddled with double agents than even Erica and her grandfather, superspy Cyrus Hale, realized. Together with a couple of stowaways who didn't want to be left out of the fun, they end up crashed in a Mexican jungle. But even that doesn't stop them from scoping out SPYDER headquarters and figuring out their next, most dastardly plan ever.

Their adventure in a luxury resort on the coast of Quintana Roo is as fully loaded with funny gags, teenage romantic confusion, extreme sports action, danger and suspense as fans of this series should expect. While Ben feels torn in his feelings toward two girls, his best friend Mike worries about how to break up with the President's daughter, and his best enemy Murray starts to realize that SPYDER considers him expendable. Meanwhile, some goofy repeat villains continue to prove hard to kill (as much as you'd like to), another plot to terrorize the world hinges on a series of madcap tropical-adventure stunts, and Erica's spy family (she gets it from both sides) gets an unexpected reunion. And so, the series continues to move foward, perhaps putting SPYDER on the ropes in time for the follow-up caper teased at the end of the book.

This is the sixth "Spy School" book featuring Ben and friends (and enemies). The next installment is Spy School: British Invasion, and there are at least two more after that. Stuart Gibbs is also the author of the Last Musketeer, Moon Base Alpha and Charlie Thorne trilogies, as well as the upcoming "Once Upon a Tim" series and seven little kiddie "FunJungle" books.

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