Having survived his first year at the CIA Academy of Espionage (Spy School, 2012), 12-year-old Benjamin Ripley is looking forward to heading home for an assassin-free summer vacation with his family and old friends. That was the plan anyway.
Instead, Ben is headed to Spy Camp, a “wilderness education facility,” and the nefarious organization SPYDER is once again hot on his trail. The title of the novel is a bit misleading, as Ben hardly spends any time at the Happy Trails Sleepaway Camp for Boys and Girls. On the day he arrives, Ben receives a mysterious letter from SPYDER offering him the opportunity to lend his “special skills” to their efforts or be killed. And if it weren’t for 15-year-old Erica Hale, Ben’s secret crush and the “savviest spy-to-be” at Spy School, Ben would likely be facing certain death. Gibbs’ screenwriter roots are evident in the explosive action sequences as Erica assumes responsibility for saving Ben and dashing SPYDER’s evil plans. Unfortunately, Ben is often overshadowed by Erica’s fearlessness and superior spy skills. Readers may find themselves scratching their heads every now and again over who is the true protagonist and whether or not Ben has what it takes for a future in espionage.
Still, the quirky cast of characters, witty dialogue and high-stakes action make for an entertaining read that will likely satisfy adrenaline junkies. (Adventure. 8-12)