Friday, November 18, 2022

Spy School Project X

Gibbs, Stuart. Spy School Project X (Spy School #10)
September 6th 2022 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

**Spoiler Alert**

Ben's parents have been relocated to Florida, and he's deep into exams, but when he has a visit with the principal, the principal's office is blown up again. Luckily, Ben is with Professor Crandall, who isn't as doddering as he looks, and he eventually intercepts Sal Minella, who tells the group (which includes Zoe, Erica, and Mike) that Murray Hill has circulated a ridiculous conspiracy theory about Ben and issued a huge reward if anyone will kill him! This opens him up to assassination attempts from all over. It's all they can do to get out of the DC area, get help from another Hale (the fabulous analyst, Mary Hale, Cyrus' wife!), and excape in an RV. Yes, Murray is tired of Ben thwarting him, but saying he's a lizard from outerspace who wants to take over the world is just too much. Murray is sequestered in the Everglades, so Ben heads down that way to get him to call the hit off, but the damage has been done. With his cover blown, Ben will have to go into the Witness Protection Program with his parents or accept a vague offer with no forthcoming details to continue with his spy career. Which direction will he take?
Strengths: This was very different from the the previous books, but was just as action packed. The traveling is more localized and sticks to the East coast, and the cast is slightly smaller. Of course, there is a wide range of assassins who show up only to be defeated. There are plenty of laugh out loud lines, as well as a great shout out to writer James Ponti with the Ponti's First Maxim of Self Defense! The big draw is the ridiculous conspiracy theory that sets everything in motion. I loved Gibbs' note at the end to students, telling them that they should investigate things they read on the internet and not just blindly believe everything! This is a great example of what could happen. Fans will love this one, enjoy meeting Mary Hale, revel in Ben's continuing romance with Erica, and wonder what on earth is going to happen NEXT!
Weaknesses: Unreasonable people are not going to understand what a clever way this is to teach young readers about conspiracy theories, even though it's done in as unpolitical a way possible. 
What I really think: I'm not sure if this is the end of the series, or just a twist. It could go either way. At any rate, Ben's future adventures will be very different, but will probably include Erica. There will be students who want this on the very first day of school even though it doesn't come out until September!

From time to time, I feel like I just add information of a historical nature. Today on Twitter (where I spend about ten minutes a day; I really try to limit myself), everyone is saying goodbye and saying that Twitter is dead. This is likely, since the new owner, Elon Musk, has made a number of bad business decisions. I am on Instagram at @msyinglingreads, but it takes so much more effort to post there. It's also harder to interact. Still, it's like taking a Model T to California instead of the Conestoga wagon that blogs have become. 

Guess I'll have to start going to conferences again. And commenting on more blogs. 

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