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“Dead ends are only course corrections to help you find the right direction,” Mother. –City Spies Golden Gate
City Spies #2
by James Ponti
AR Test, Diverse Characters
Fourteen-year-old Sydney is a surfer and a rebel from Bondi Beach, Australia. She’s also a field ops specialist and frequent mission leader for the City Spies—a secret team of young agents who work for MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service.
After thwarting a notorious villain at an eco-summit in Paris, the City Spies gear up for their next mission. Operating out of a base in Scotland, this secret team of young agents have honed their unique skills, such as sleight of hand, breaking and entering, observation, and explosives. These skills allow them to go places in the world of espionage where adults can’t.
Sydney is excited to learn that she’ll be going undercover on the marine research vessel, the Sylvia Earle. But things don’t go exactly as planned, and while Sydney does find herself in the spotlight, it’s not in the way she was hoping.
Meanwhile, there’s been some new intel regarding a potential mole within the organization, offering the spies a lead that takes them to San Francisco, California. But as they investigate a spy who died at the Botanical Gardens, they discover that they are also being investigated.
Similar to the Charlie Thorne Series, City Spies Golden Gate takes readers on a fast-paced, multi-country mission in a fight between good versus evil. The second installment of the City Spies Series focuses on solving several mysteries, including finding the person who killed a spy. Even though there is less action, the story is immensely interesting because it contains mystery, high-risk undercover work, and gives readers a peek into the inner turmoil of an adolescent spy. Even though all the City Spies have an amazing skill, they make mistakes and have moments of insecurity. Because the characters are multifaceted and imperfect, they are both likable and relatable.
During the City Spies’ mission, Mother is absent. Even though the loveable character is missed, this allows Monty to take a more active role in the mission, which leads to several surprises. Even though much of the story is intense, there are still moments of humor and heart. Plus, readers will get a look inside several of San Francisco’s landmarks, including Muir Woods, Alcatraz, and Fort Point.
The complicated plot, the evil villains, and the advanced vocabulary will be difficult for younger readers. However, the City Spies Series will appeal to a vast number of readers because it contains action, adventure, intrigue, and mystery. Readers ready for more mature mysteries will love the City Spies Series. Mystery-loving fans who want to learn some gangster lore will also enjoy Notorious by Gordon Korman.
- A terrorist attempts to kidnap two girls from a ship. When the man enters the girls’ room, Brooklynn “put her arms on the upper bunks to brace herself. Then, like a gymnast using parallel bars, she swung up the lower half of her body and executed a perfect scissor kick to the underside of his jaw. He froze momentarily before collapsing into a heap.”
- While on the ship, Sydney detonates a bomb so that it doesn’t damage the ship.
- Monty goes into an office to talk to a park ranger. When Monty hears another voice, she “turned toward the voice and saw a gun pointed directly at her.” Brooklyn walks into the room and “her hands were duct-taped. . . she fell onto the floor and landed alongside Monty, their faces right next to each other.”
- There is “a report of an explosion at Fort Point. . . The explosion went off on the roof. It was designed for minimal damage and maximum visuals.”
- As Sydney is running from Magpie, a rogue spy, she “tripped over the curb when she reached the parking lot and crashed against the pavement, cutting the palms of her hands and gashing her left knee.” The spy almost reaches Sydney. “Then a blur came from the side, and just like that, Magpie was gone from Sydney’s frame of vision. She heard two loud thuds. . .” The spy is captured.
Drugs and Alcohol
- God and OMG are both used as an exclamation once. For example, while discussing the attempted kidnapping, a girl says, “OMG, tell me everything!”
- While being questioned by Parliament, Sydney had to repeat this oath, “I promise before Almighty God that the evidence which I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” And then she lies.
- A park ranger discusses a man’s death. The ranger says, “You should tell your father that the last images his friends saw were among God’s most beautiful creations.”