Wednesday, June 26, 2013

World Wednesday-- Playing With Fire

Playing with Fire (SCHOOL FOR S.P.I.E.S. Book#1)Hale, Bruce. Playing with Fire (SCHOOL FOR S.P.I.E.S. #1)
25 June 2013, Hyperion
E ARC from

Max has an unfortunate habit of setting fire to things, but maintains that he did not burn down his last foster home. Doesn't matter; his track record lands him at the Merry Sunshine Orphanage under the care of Hantai Annie. While there, he gets a coded message that indicates the father he never met is still alive, and further investigation reveals that he is involved in spying. Making friends with Wyatt while learning lock picking and other spy skills at the orphanage, Max tries to get more information, and is sent to Mr. Plato, who turns out to be one one Max's first foster fathers. It turns out that the evil LOTUS has found the school and kidnapped some of the students so that the organization can get its hands on an invention that the orphanage is trying to hind. Max is sent next to find Tully, who says that Max's father has been kidnapped by LOTUS. When Max gets assigned to an elite group of students to thwart this evil organization and break by breaking into their headquarters, he's excited because he thinks it will help him find his father. But will Max double cross the school? Will someone else double cross him? And even if he finds his father, will it be worth it?
Strengths: Fans of the N.E.R.D.S., H.I.V.E., S.T.O.R.M., and Evil Genius series will like this, with its action, spy training, and ensemble cast. Of especial note-- Max is half Thai, Hantai Annie is Chinese, and many of the children are described as being of various ethnicities. Charlotte's Library is always looking for multicultural fantasies, and this one certainly qualifies.
Weaknesses: There are so many series like this that it didn't feel fresh. Also, Hantai Annie talks in pidgin English even though she is described as speaking seven languages-- there was something about her portrayal that felt very dated and not culturally aware. This is also a very British book, with lots of words students might not understand.
On the Technology Front, read this article on Barnes and Noble's fortunes.  This would be why those of us who are digital immigrants will always buy books we want to keep in paper format. Sure, they may get damaged in a basement flood, but that's entirely different from them just evaporating because something went wrong on the internet. And I may be wrong here, but at some point, wasn't Barnes and Noble the evil usurper who was ruining independent bookstores? I can't keep track.

What? Your computer doesn't look like the 1977 Tandy TRS-80? You don't even remember this computer that hooked up to your television? You weren't even born then?

***Waving cane.*** Get off my yard, young whippersnappers!


  1. Oh good! I'll look out for this one. Thanks.

  2. I am actually having to work this week to get some things caught up, ugh, but I am so excited about LeakyCon (the Harry Potter convention) which is in MY TOWN and starts tomorrow that I just can't settle down. I know it's going to be a bunch of teens and twenties who have thee books memorized and know way more about HP than I ever did, but I am still super excited. And there is a Lit Track with so many amazing YA authors coming to town - Rainbow Rowell, E Lockhart, Maureen Johnson, David Levithan, Maggie Stiefvater, Matt de la Peña, etc. It i going to be awesome! So anyway, I just had to tell someone, but not that many people could truly appreciate it like a fellow librarian. Hope you are enjoying your summer. I've really got to get some work done now!

  3. Anonymous1:53 PM EDT

    I'm so with you on buying books I want to keep in print! So far I have only actually bought ebooks when I couldn't get them in print and really wanted them - 2x, so far.

    Having married into what my husband likes to call the Miscegenation Mafia (meaning my kids are 1/4 Filipino), I'm also very interested in multicultural sff.

  4. Anonymous9:39 AM EDT

    I wasn't born to see those computers! It's cool to see how far technology goes!
    This sounds like a good book! ;)