Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 1515
Adventure and Video Games
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
After their experiences in Swift and Hawk: Cyberspies, Caleb and Zen are back. They are waiting for Zen's family to make it back to London, and go on a mission with Mitch that is supposed to be a straight forward assessment of a hacking job. When they get to the robotics company SolTech, however, they realize that it is much more serious. Not only is there a virus in the code, but it is turning the robots in the factory into killing machines. The three get out safely, but the entire building explodes. It turns out that this is probably connected to the Strikers, a group of antiwar activists who have been targeting all sorts of organizations. The director of Mobius, Ms. Clay, is reluctant to send Zen out into the field, but the Strikers are all very young. Operation Supergiant is born, and Zen breaks into a factory and films a video of her writing graffiti that brings her to the head of the Strikers, Celeste. Zen has a backstory for herself; she's of Syrian descent, and her parents were both killed, so she's against all things war related. She in foster care in a home in Chalk Farm, where Mobius has set up a safe house with the librarian serving as a foster mother. Zen gets accepted into the group and heads off on some of their protests, digging up all of the dirt on the organization. While staying back at the school to keep tabs on Zen's operation, Caleb notices that something is going on with the Terrorform video game. This was put together by Caleb's father before he died, and the artificial intelligence that runs it, Sam, assures that the game can never be used for monetary gain. This is why Caleb hasn't sold it to another company, since it is one of the most popular games. He notices that there is a new clan, but they haven't titled themselves, play 24 hours a day, and seem intent on taking over the game. Sam, who can talk to Caleb and has as much of a personality as AI can, is working with Caleb to find out what the Nameless gamers are up to. Meanwhile, Zen is running into problems with the Strikers, and Mobius isn't telling her that her family is on their way back to London, lest she become distracted. I don't want to spoil what happens, but know that Razor has reared its ugly head again, and it will take another book to figure out what has happened to Sam. A third book, Supernova, comes out in the UK in May, 2024.
Good Points
The Brits and spy books are such a good combination! This was like a tech heavy Alex Rider book, and starts off with a fantastic car chase, complete with a pile of manure. Rapidly moving into the SolTech mission, this really doesn't let up for a second. I very much enjoy the fact that Caleb and Zen have each other. They are a little reluctant, and Mobius (especially Caleb's mother) are always a little reluctant to send kids on missions, but then always make exceptions and send them, which leads me to believe that they aren't really that reluctant! Both Caleb and Zen have a lot of freedom to run around, and there is a ton of technology. Definitely quite the thrilling page turner!

I had trouble caring about the video game being taken over, since I never play video games, but that will be a HUGE draw for young readers. I would have preferred there to be more character development, and to learn more about the dynamics of both Caleb and Zen's families, but that's not as exciting as blowing things up!

Definitely purchasing for my library, and will hand to readers who enjoy spy books like Ponti's City Spies, McNab's Traitor, and my many readers of Muchamore's 2010 CHERUB series. Clearly, there is room for some fresh new spy adventures with new technology!
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