Review Blog

Aug 21 2013

Spy Society by Robin Benway

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Simon and Schuster, London, 2013. ISBN 9781471116742.
(Age: 13+) Recommended. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read largely because neither the author nor the narrator take themselves too seriously.
The premise behind the story is that Maggie Silver is the daughter of two international spies and, since the age of 4, has been a safe-cracking genius. The family has just been sent to NYC on assignment, but this time Maggie is the key. Yes, she has her first real job as a spy: attend high school and befriend Jesse Oliver so she can break into his dad's safe! Sounds easy?? Well, for a girl who has spent her life travelling the world accompanying her parents on their spy cases, attending high school is not as easy as you might expect. Maggie soon discovers that she is more adept at cracking safes than she is at cracking the teenage high school code of behaviour, let alone cracking the code of teenage boys.
Fortunately for the reader, Maggie also has a sharp eye and a witty tongue and is not afraid to mock herself, so her endeavours to make friends and settle into high school are filled with humour and just the requisite amount of teenage angst. With such an engaging narrator, we are willing to go along for the ride when the plot begins to stretch the bounds of credibility as Maggie and her new-found friends attempt to turn the tables on the bad guys.
Part mystery story (with just enough hints thrown in to keep the reader guessing), part teen romance story (as both Jesse and Maggie try to make sense of their equally unusual upbringings) and part high-school drama this novel is a thoroughly engaging romp from beginning to end. Robin Benway balances the demands of each element of her story cleverly and the teenage narrative voice is pitch perfect. With plenty of action, romance and just the right amount of teenage angst to keep young readers entertained, it looks like a delightful series is about to begin.
Deborah Marshall

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