Monday, November 28, 2022

MMGM- Swift & Hawk: Cyberspies

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Macx, Logan. Swift and Hawk: Cyberspies
November 22, 2022 by Walker Books US
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Caleb Quinn lives with his mother, Harper, a CIA agent, in London after the death of his father, a well known scientist. He attends ARC, a private school where he studies Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Cybertech. His best friend, Zenobia (Zen) is also the child of scientists. When leather jacketed hoodlums break into the Quinn home, Caleb uses technology he created, his FLEX, to spy on them, and hears his mother use code words to indicate he should flee. He manages to get out of the house and make his way to ARC, only to find that Professor Clay, whom he is supposed to contact, is not there, nor is Zen, who boards at the school. Zen has left a cryptic message with her android Beetlebat that leads Caleb to break into the British Museum and find a secret room where Zen is hiding. Her whole family has been kidnapped. Professor Clay shows up, but so does a small drone. Their position compromised, the three take off through the London sewers. The children get cut off from the professor, who has given them a mission to crack a code as part of the Moebius Programme, and they make their way to safety. The two decide to head to Amsterdam and contact a former schoolmate, Luuk, to help them. Caleb has been working on a video game called Terrorform that has become very popular, and has built on his father's AI program called SAM. Using their skills, Caleb and Zen start to unravel the mystery that involves enignmatic businessman Xavier Torent, Esperanza, APEX, and a diabolical plan that only the tweens can thwart. This takes them to the remote Norwegian island of Spøkelsøy where they have to fight nanowolves and outsmart Torrent to save Zen's family. Will they be able to find them, and locate Caleb's mother as well? 
Strengths: This reminded me a bit of Young's STORM series, with the British characters and the plethora of cool tech gadgets, as well as the kidnapped parents. There's lots of action and adventure as well as international travel that is taken for granted ("we'll just hop on the EuroStar and get to Amsterdam") that will be greatly appreciated by readers who are sitting in a study hall in Ohio with the only travel in their future being a possible trip out to an apple orchard in the country! Caleb and Zen both have a ton of tech and spy skills, and are pretty fearless as well. The villains are easy to identify, and they clearly have to be taken down because they are bent on world domination. There's clearly another mission in the works because Caleb was picking up APEX signals again at the end of the book. 
Weaknesses: I felt like I was missing a whole bunch about ARC, and I also didn't have a good feel for Caleb or Zen's personality. Will young readers care? Not so much. I was also a little irritated at the rarified, wealthy atmosphere; sure, this makes it a lot easier to go on missions, but it also made me less interested in the characters because they didn't have as much of a struggle. 
What I really think: Spy books are always very popular, and my students have loved going on vicarious spy missions for over twenty years! This will be hugely popular with fans of Horowitz's Stormbreaker (2000), Gilman's Devil's Breath (2005), Carter's Gallagher Girls (2006), Buckley's NERDS (2009), Muchamore's CHERUB series (2010), Gibbs' Spy School (2013) , Bradley's Double Vision (2014), McGee's Ryan Quinn (2016), and Ponti's City Spies (2020).


  1. This certainly is an action-packed novel. Tweens will love the fast-paced story, and the high tech gadgets. Didn't realize how popular spy books are to middle grade readers.

  2. Anonymous12:40 PM EST

    I bet kids will love this! Carol Baldwin

  3. This might be one of those books I shrug my shoulders at, but the intended readers adore. I'll keep it in mind to recommend for those students wanting an action packed spy story. Thanks for telling us about it on this week's MMGM.

  4. I really have trouble with kids as spies, but young readers seems to love this stuff. Always good to know about things like this. Thanks for the review.

  5. I don't read many spy stories myself but I can see this being a big hit with kids!