In Gibbs's (Belly Up) addition to the "child spy" genre, the CIA is (yet again) secretly recruiting kids, and Ben Ripley is the awkward 12-year-old brought into the academy, in this case under the pretense of attending a science-oriented boarding school in Virginia. The cliches (and plot holes) come as expected, from the ease with which Ben's parents accept his leaving immediately for a school they've never visited, to Ben's early struggles at the school and the presence of a traitor in the program. Depending on the dictates of the plot, the spies shift from hypercompetent (the CIA knows everything about Ben, including the extent of his hidden crush, and secretly inserts questions into standardized tests to assess children nationwide) to ineffectual (they are unable to identify a teenage mole or detect intruders). The supporting cast is occasionally interesting (school bully Chip makes a good early antagonist), but Gibbs doesn't offer much in the way of originality to readers who have seen this plot before. Ages 8-12. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM. (Mar.)Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 5-8--Ben Ripley, a 12-year-old math genius, receives a mysterious summons to join the Academy of Espionage, a secret recruitment arm of the CIA. Since his life's ambition is to become a spy, he is thrilled by the offer, but his first day is hardly what he expected. It involves ninjas, flying bullets, and Erica, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. A fellow student asks him to hack into the computer mainframe for him because the rumor mill says that Ben has great cryptography skills. Later that night another agent breaks into his room to kidnap him. It turns out someone keeps leaking sensitive information, and Ben's recruitment was set up strictly as a ploy to find the mole; he is a perfect target for the organization of rogue double agents that has infiltrated the school. Most of the adults are so inept and clueless that Ben and Erica, with the help of their fellow students, save the school from being destroyed by a giant bomb hidden in a secret passageway. Twists and turns in the plot keep readers guessing until the very end. The story, over-the-top funny, combines Alex Rider's espionage skills with a huge dose of the sarcasm of Artemis Fowl. Subtle digs at the stuffiness of a federal agency and the romance of spying abound. The book ends with a letter, fully redacted of all sensitive information, to the Director of Internal Investigations recommending Ben's continued attendance at the school, leaving room for a sequel or two.--Diana Pierce, Leander High School, TXCopyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
It has a great plot and characters.