Monday, February 8, 2016

School for S.P.I.E.S #1: Playing With Fire by Bruce Hale

Playing with Fire (SCHOOL FOR S.P.I.E.S. Book#1)This book is the first in a new series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Max has been in and out of foster homes for years, but he's finally sent to the Merry Sunshine Orphanage. He quickly realizes this is not an ordinary orphanage as he takes classes in picking locks, decoding messages, and tailing suspects. It's a school for spies. However, someone slips Max a coded message informing him that his father is still alive. Max breaks a number of rules and challenges the limits of the orphanage's director as he tries to locate his father. A man approaches Max with the promise of information if Max will help him spy on the school. Max takes the bait, but he may soon regret that decision.

The plot reminds me of some other books where children are sent to a place to learn special skills. H.I.V.E. is the most recent series that comes to mind. I know this is a fictional novel, but the number of chances Max was given to break rules was pretty unbelievable. I like how Max's character makes a couple of close friends, but I would have liked to have seen more depth to their relationships. I thought Wyatt was going to be his close buddy, so I was surprised when the author chose to separate them during some of Max's adventures. Cinnabar was a girl friend, but I didn't feel their relationship was developed as much as it could have been. The interactions weren't bad or anything, but I expected a bit more.

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