Spy Camp: The Graphic Novel

Spy Camp: The Graphic Novel
Age Range
Release Date
April 04, 2023
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Ben Ripley is a middle schooler whose school is not exactly average—he’s spent the last year training to be a top-level spy and dodging all sorts of associated danger. So now that summer’s finally here, Ben would like to have some fun and relax. But that’s not going to happen during required spy survival training at a rustic wilderness camp, where SPYDER, an enemy spy organization, has infiltrated the spies’ ranks. Can Ben root out the enemy before it takes him out—for good?

Editor review

1 review
A true survival camp!
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
The plot follows the same storyline as the second book in the Spy School series so it can be a nice introduction to the books, or a fun revisiting for loyal readers. You might want to read the novel first since graphic novels don’t have enough text to fully develop the characters. Ben is the intelligent main character being targeted by SPYDER, the evil spy organization, although he’s not sure why. He has a crush on Erica, a highly skilled classmate at the CIA spy school, and she always manages to pop up and save Ben from perilous dangers. Her father contributes humor since his reputation as a decorated agent is highly exaggerated. He loves sharing tales of his greatness while Erica rolls her eyes and points out the truth and his numerous flaws.
The nice thing about graphic novels is the colorful illustrations help readers visualize the story and characters. Even if you’ve already read the previously published novels in the series, readers can now get a clear picture of what Ben, Erica, and Spy Camp look like. I especially appreciate seeing Woodchuck, the camp director, dressed in his Tarzan-like loin cloth to show he’s a survival expert. Illustrations replace text in many scenes which allows the plot to move more swiftly. This feature is especially appropriate and appreciated when characters are sneaking around or quickly moving from place to place. It helps readers get to confrontations, discoveries, and plot twists faster.
Ben is an unassuming boy caught up in the middle of high espionage. As mentioned, he has no idea why SPYDER wants him so badly but many other agents know his reputation from the previous novel in the series. He helped to stop an enemy mission, although Erica’s dad took all the credit for himself. Ben cares for his friends and will do anything to protect them but his spy skills are mediocre. Readers will connect with him since he’s basically an average middle-grade kid. His empathy for others, his determination to succeed, and his common shortcomings make him a likable main character.
What didn’t work as well:
Character relationships aren’t fully developed in this graphic novel so readers may want to try the full novel too. There’s more to the Ben and Erica dynamic that doesn’t come through in the shorter version and it’s an important subplot in the series.
The Final Verdict:
Young readers will love Ben’s adventures as a blossoming spy as the author adds bits of humor and drama. The inclusion of illustrations in the graphic form enhances the action and helps the action move smoothly. I recommend you give this book a shot!
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