Synopsis: Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it’s really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real “pavement artist”-but can she manoeuvre a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?
Stories and rumours are interspersed throughout the book about spies having completed dangerous missions; smuggling a nuclear bomb, poisoning someone. Learning how to handle gear results in accidents, like a younger girl lighting her hair on fire. There are demonstrations of knife throwing and hand to hand combat, a torture simulation and a test where they have to infiltrate a building.
Mention of a professor’s very angry ex-wife. Another teacher is described as hot, and the girls take time to get ready (including makeup and push up bras.) A girl thinks he was hired because the headmistress is also good looking. Cammie sneaks out and starts dating a ‘normal’ boy; they go on dates, hold hands, kiss, dance. To figure out if he likes Cammie, characters analyze what he said/did/might have thought.
One character smokes (one time). A mad scientist/teacher looks like a resident drunk after having a scientific accident. Mention of busting an illegal drugs operation, and a brief worry of drugs to prepare for a sex-change. A pharmacist remarks that he has medicated the whole town and the girls knock out a guard with a drug.
Cammie (and friends) sneak behind the teachers’ backs and lies to them. Bex is described as a ‘rules optional’ sort of girl, and Cammie lies because that’s what spies do.
‘Oh, my gosh’ exclaimed throughout the book. A teacher remarks that they will have to work damn hard. A character calls another a b-, but it’s bleeped out and referred to as the ‘b-word’. Minor name-calling (ex. freak).
Cammie’s cover is that she homeschools for religious reasons; when Josh looks for her he collects many church pamphlets. Mention of free will in the Bible.
Overall feel: A fun, exciting read that younger readers especially would enjoy. Cammie is a young spy, and her school is especially interesting. Definitely targeted for tweens that are moving into the YA section, the first instalment into the series is one that will entertain with its spy-action and sneaking-around adventures. The book explores the interaction of boy and girl at Cammie’s age, and humorously mentions topics that might lead to a younger tween to ask questions. Overall, a good read.