Review Detail

Weaponized, Smoky Pear lip balm
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Bridget isn't expecting a whole lot for her birthday from her busy adoptive parents, but she thought she might get a card or something. Instead, her older, trouble making brother Ryan just wakes her up to let him in the house after a night of carousing, and her perfect younger sister Natalie wants her to help with a fund raiser. Even her sort-of friend, Joanna, is really only concerned about posting mean stuff about fellow classmates on her web site. When she gets a bag with a cell phone and a gift card to a fancy boutique, she thinks her parents have given it to her, but they are truly regretful that they didn't. Bridget goes to the boutique, where she is given a very high tech track suit by Xan, and eventually the cell phone rings. It is Spool, an agent who informs her that her biological father is really Carter Spike, a super secret agent for Section 23, an organization so deeply underground that the CIA doesn't even know about it. Her father wants her to start spying, starting with someone at school, and moving on to the daughter of a business magnate. In order to spy on the businessman, Bridget must befriend his daughter, which is no easy task. Her track suit gives her super speed and agility, which she uses to defuse local hoodlums who attempt to beat up Dale Tookey, a geekish boy from her school. The people at her school aren't all who they seem to be, and Bridget's entry into the world of espionage is fraught with double agents, deception and a malfunctioning, weaponized, Smoky Pear lip balm.
Good Points
Middle grade fiction often capitalizes on the very typical middle grade concern of self identity, and Bridget's desire to connect with her biological father is both endearing and amusing. She feels like an outsider at school, and her only friend is someone she doesn't really like, something which contributes to the many middle school friendships that dissolve about halfway through seventh grade. It's telling that the confidence engendered by her track suit and her spy assignments translates not only into new friendships, but also into a budding romance with Dale. Her place in her family, as not only the middle child, but also as the only adopted child, is handled realistically as well.

The other characters in the book are fleshed out as well. Dale is introduced merely as the target of some bullies, but becomes more than the reader can imagine. Joanna is unflinchingly wicked. Ryan has a change of heart, and Natalie is not the perfect child that she seems. The parents are busy, but truly care about Bridget and want her to be happy.

This is not lacking in the elements that make a great spy novel, either. We have Spool, the Charlie's Angel type talking head, who supplies Bridget with the aforementioned lip balm as well as Tic Tac cameras and a laser that can cut a Mercedes in two. There are divided loyalties, unexpected allegiances, and awesome chase scenes. Personally, I just want the track suit programmed to replicate all of her father's physical skills, especially since wearing it even makes her faster without it!

For fans of Gibb's Spy School, Rylander's Code Name Zero or Sanderson's Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, Bridget Wilder: Spy in Training will go over as well as a poshly wrapped birthday package on the porch of someone who thinks everyone has forgotten her birthday!
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