This espionage thriller for young readers—the first installment of a planned series—revolves around a boy recruited to be an operative for a secret organization whose mission is to protect the world from evil.
Jake Hale, a 14-year-old kid with an overactive imagination, is having an uneventful summer. Upon hearing the news that his parents believe an abandoned house in the neighborhood may be inhabited by squatters, Jake—pretending to be a secret agent—borrows his father’s bird-watching binoculars and stakes out the building. But instead of finding bank robbers on the run or a band of ninja assassins, Jake discovers something even more incredible: Two teenage agents from a secret intelligence agency called Stormglass are in Jake’s neighborhood to recruit him. After befriending Lizzie and Filby, the kid spies, Jake learns the specifics of their mission—to stop the head of a multinational corporation from killing off all of the planet’s honeybees with genetically modified killer bees, which would put the future of humankind in jeopardy. From there, Jake embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. Like a Bond adventure for kids, the storyline is action-packed, pedal-to-the-metal paced, replete with cool high-tech gadgetry, and powered by a smart, at times humorous narrative tone. The storyline verges on implausibility in places, but the confident, fluid writing helps make it work. And although it was obviously written with young readers in mind, the deeply speculative premise (involving genetic manipulation, looming environmental collapse and terrorism) is so intriguing and timely that older readers could enjoy it, too. At the novel’s conclusion, a subtle reference to John le Carré’s classic spy novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) is not only brilliant but fitting.
Breakneck pacing and intelligent writing make this an undeniably entertaining read for espionage aficionados of all ages.