Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Hacker's Key

Skovron, Jon. The Hacker's Key
September 1st 2020 by Scholastic Inc.
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Ada Genet feels trapped in Springfield Military Reform School, having spent most of her life traveling with her father, the "gentleman criminal" Remy Genet, who specialized in cyber crime and did not resort to killing people. When a piece of highly sensitive equipment, the so called "hacker's key" is stolen from the UN, the government believes her father knows something about it. She is granted a rare visit with her father to try to get information from him, but he instead facilitates her escape, instructing her to go and find the key. What should she do with it? That's up to her, and depends on what sort of person she wishes to be. Armed with a stash of money, a slew of safe houses, and Pascale, a friend of her father's to help occasionally, Ada is off on her adventure. She decides to take classmate Jace with her, since he is good with computers, and ends up taking along Cody as well. She doesn't much care for Cody, but she catches the two trying to leave campus, and does speak fifteen languages, which could be helpful. After a brief stop in Baltimore, the crew is off to Iceland, Ireland, and Prague, following a string of clues leading to the elusive "Mother Brain" who is apparently behind the theft. Along the way, Ada rappels down the Cliffs of Moher, single handedly takes out a group of spies, eludes both Russian and Chinese agents, and travels on planes, trains, and buses. Will she be able to locate Mother Brain and stop her from using the Hacker's Key to bring down all of the computer systems in the world?
Strengths: Spy adventure books are the best form of escapism. What middle schooler doesn't like to think they could have unlimited funds to travel all over the world and solve mysteries? Heck, I want to do that! This had a sort of 39 Clues feel to it, with the extensive traveling, and plenty of unlikely scenarios, like Ada taking out five adults, but I appreciated that it also had her thinking about what sort of international criminal she wanted to be. Really, the lack of socially responsible and positive crime is the only thing holding ME back from a life of globe trotting espionage! I should have seen the twist at the end coming, but I was so caught up in the fun details that it was a chilling surprise. Love the cover, love the inclusion of cyber crime, and even enjoyed Ada's difficult relationship with Cody. This will be hugely popular.
Weaknesses: As a boring adult, I could have used a little more back story-- what were some major heists pulled with her father? How did she end up in the school? How exactly is she buying all of these tickets? I sort of wished that Pascale had stuck around but not really interfered much. Also, the hardcover edition was freakishly expensive! ($25.28 from Follett instead of the normal $14.50.) 
What I really think: It's been a while since there has been a good new spy series, and this will be fantastic for fans of fast-paced spy series like Horowitz's Alex Rider, Carter's Gallagher Girls, and Bradford's Bodyguard, but I have actually put off purchasing because of the price difference.

Ms. Yingling


  1. do think there's enough that speculative about the hacker's key that this counts as spec fic?

  2. Probably more realistic. It's been awhile, but I don't think it was spec fic.