DESERT DARK by Sonja Stone


Age Range: 12 - 16
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A teen enters a world of espionage and intrigue.

Teen cryptography whiz Nadia Riley has just been humiliated by both her BFF and boyfriend and can no longer face school. So when the Irish-Lebanese-American teen is offered a position at the prestigious Desert Mountain Academy, she jumps at it, even though it means leaving her home and family behind. Arriving at the campus in the Arizona desert, she finds what she thought was a simple private school is actually a program designed to train agents for the CIA’s Black Ops. It’s not easy to adapt, but with her skill at cryptography and her willingness to train hard, it’s not long before Nadia makes friends and a place for herself. She’s even beginning to trust the attractive team leader, Jack. But someone in the school—most likely someone on her team—is a double agent intent on framing Nadia…and there’s no scapegoat like a dead one. Debut novelist Stone alternates her third-person narration through the perspectives of several of the academy’s teens, a fairly diverse bunch, focusing on Nadia while giving readers glimpses into the others’ psyches. This gives readers a good sense of the fluid group dynamics of this intense program and occasional peeks into the brain of “Agent Number 77365,” which effectively amps the tension.

With secrets around every corner and an exciting premise, this thriller will keep readers guessing right to the very last page. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3562-3
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2016


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