Book Review: Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs

spy_campHaving recently completed his first semester at spy school, spy-in-training Ben Ripley is planning to enjoy his summer break hanging out with friends at home.  All of this changes, however, when he is informed of a mandatory spy summer camp.  As bad as spy school was, Ben now must face a death threat, an incompetent super spy, and an evil organization seeking nothing other than Ben’s recruitment.  As long forgotten secrets rise and old enemies appear at every corner, Ben must find out who is behind the SPYDER organization and stop them before it’s too late, or pay the ultimate price.

An inspiring sequel to Spy School (see my review), this novel -contains all of the same heart stopping action and witty retorts that we’ve all come to expect from Stuart Gibbs.  Be warned, this book is highly classified and, should it fall into the wrong hands, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) would have a big problem on their hands.  Most people think that spies live an exciting life of amazing missions, but that’s all tourist stuff.  Real spying is hard work, and this book shows just how hard it can be.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery from time to time.  It’s always exciting when you can guess the ending before the characters do (I had solved the mystery by chapter 12, see if you can beat that record).  The author makes you believe one thing, then a revelation makes you believe something else, and then finally the author reveals that it was the first thing the whole time.  This is my third Stuart Gibbs novel and this one does not disappoint.

-Evan G, 6th grade

Book Review: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

eye_of_mindsThere is reality and there is virtual reality.  In the real world, life is dull and boring for high schooler, Michael.  Virtual reality, however, is the excitement of life times a million, you can do anything…be anything…and the more rules you break, the more fun it is.  The bad part of this virtual world is that a gamer named Kaine has found a way to trap people in the VirtNet and the authorities know that he has to be stopped.  That’s where Michael comes in.  In order to stop Kaine, Michael and his two best friends that he met inside the VirtNet must go on a wild journey through the internet and hope that they will make it home alive.

James Dashner seems to enjoy killing off his characters in gruesome ways.  In the Maze Runner series, people die from a sickness that kills their brain and in this series people’s minds die in the virtual world but not their bodies.  This completely original novel has bizarre, gory and disturbing twists and turns which kept my attention but made me lose my appetite, literally.

I hesitantly recommend this book to teenagers.  You may want to read the Maze Runner series first so that you will be prepared for his brilliant writing style and gore.  If you’ve already read it, then you understand exactly what I’m talking about.

-Evan G., 6th grade

Book Review: Spy School by Stuart Gibbs

spy_schoolThings are not always what they seem.  This certainly describes the “science school” which is actually an undercover CIA training base.  Ben Ripley, a twelve-year old math prodigy, aka “Smokescreen,” gets an invitation to attend the spy school for the second semester of 6th grade as a mysterious spot opens up and because of his amazing math skills and the strange project linked to him known as “Pinwheel.”  He trains to become a CIA agent for one school semester although he may not live that long.  As if spy school wasn’t hard enough, Ben must survive an assassin, find a mysterious mole, and make sure he looks good while doing it.  However, he’s not alone. He finds friends in other students, Erica AKA “Ice Queen,” Murray AKA “Washout,” Zoe, and Warren.

I recommend this book to fans of Alex Rider, Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl because of the humor and action.  The way the story is written make you second guess everything as it unfolds in this suspenseful mystery novel.  Be warned, this book is not for the easily frightened or timid population as it contains confidential, top secret government secrets. Buy it at your local bookstore or rent it at your nearest library and you won’t be disappointed. Although, don’t expect any James Bond or anything, spying is a dangerous job, and is only accomplished by the best of the best, the cream of the crop, you get the idea. Spy school has all of the same things as normal school: bullies, boring teachers, bad cafeteria food, and occasionally someone tries to kill you.

This message will self destruct in ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…

-Evan G., 6th grade

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

boy_striped_pajamasThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a book about a 9 year-old named Bruno, who is forced by his father, a commander in the German army, to move from his five story mansion in Berlin, to a house in the middle of nowhere called simply, “Out-with”.  From there, Bruno slowly learns about what we now call the Holocaust. He can see the concentration camp in the far distance from his mundane bedroom window and his curiosity leads him directly to the center of the unfathomable.  From wild adventures in a slave camp to a run in with an unstoppable tire swing, to his friendship with a mysterious boy in striped pajamas named Shmuel, this  is a book that you won’t forget.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn history in a non-boring way.  ⚠ THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART ⚠ It has a very sad ending and contains very deep insight into life during one of histories most tragic times.  I hope that you can pick it up at your local library or bookstore as this is a life-altering read.

-Evan G., 6th grade

Book Review: The Fire Seekers by Richard Farr

fire_seekersYou’ve heard the stories repeated, every religion and culture has a different way of telling them, it’s the story of the end of the human race…  Set in modern times, ancient Gods are rising, mass disappearances of people are occurring and a terrorist organization named the Seraphim is at large. 17 year-old Daniel Calder, who has a famous archeologist for a father and America’s top business woman/mountain climber for a mother, has a journey to take in order to save the human race. He has to connect the dots and discover what humanity has been denying since the very first civilizations. In this witty, fast-paced tale, Daniel must rediscover secrets long lost and find out the mystery behind the Fire Seekers.

I noticed that I kept mixing this book up with other series because the voice used by the author is similar to those of Rick Riordan, James Patterson and John Flanagan.  These happen to be some of my favorite authors.  This is a suspenseful mystery novel that relates life in other countries to that of life on American soil.  This story really helps the reader appreciate the circumstances they live in and realize all the bad things in the world that they don’t have to partake in. The reader will get a deeper look at human society in which there are problems that can and can not be fixed. Though this novel is fictional, it rings with truth.  I enjoyed the themes that occur throughout the book including world religion, mythology and childhood independence.

-Evan G., 6th grade

Book Review: Jack Templar, Monster Hunter, by Jeff Gunhus

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00040]Jack Templar is just an ordinary 13 year-old boy.  His biggest concerns in life are girls, growing pains, and trying to keep decent grades at school.  The day before his 14th birthday, Jack wakes up astounded to find that he has gained superhuman strength, not unlike Peter Parker in the Hollywood Spiderman film.  That morning in his garage, he lifts a 48lb dumbbell with one hand. Then, on the way to school he makes an easy slam  dunk. He also impresses his crush by beating up a bully in front of the school.  He is definitely loving life!

Then, disaster hits!  His school Principal turns into a bat creature and threatens him.  He then bumps into a 3,000 year old vampire and goes on to save a strange girl from being killed by a troll.  As the day goes on, he finds himself fighting for his life against spirits, demons and monsters galore.

This exciting book reveals the author’s point of view about survival of the fittest and how friendship conquers all.  Gunhus also shows how some sacrifices are worth making and some aren’t.  This epic novel causes the reader to think about other possibilities, about how many things go unnoticed in the world.  There is a whole civilization of monsters in his story that has gone unnoticed by the human population.  It makes fun of how many little details or big happenings occur without anybody ever knowing.

I would recommend this book because of the main character’s realistic reactions and the overall authentic tone of the story even though it is make believe.  It is appropriate for all ages since it is pretty clean considering it is a book about hunting monsters. I absolutely loved it!

Evan G., 6th grade

Book Review: I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

messengerEd Kennedy is about as low as they go… he is a drinking, smoking, underage cabdriver and the only thing he cares about in his mundane world is his dog named The Doorman. And one more thing… he LIVES for card games and gambling. However, this all changes in one day when he accidentally stops a bank robbery and receives a playing card in the mail with three addresses and three times on them. As he gets more playing cards, more mysteries are revealed about the sender, pulling Ed into a miraculous journey that solves other people’s and his own problems.

World renowned author of The Book Thief, Markus Zusak does it again. He works his best magic yet in bringing this novel to life in the mind of the reader. He expertly hooks and reels you into his story with gripping suspense and mystery that will keep anyone on the edge of their seats. It is quite descriptive, using words that you don’t usually hear in the American language such as “mate” and “arse” and “bloke.” Since the author resides in Australia, he seems to bring his culture to the conversations between his characters. This novel is funny and thought-provoking, and I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.

-Evan G., 6th grade