Publisher's Note:  

As students at a special high school that trains them to be secret agents, six teenagers struggle to complete the training exercises as a team before being sent out into the field to sink or swim.

Spy High Mission One

by A.J. Butcher

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Overall Review:  

This book starts out as a typical story about teens, chosen from a variety of backgrounds for their skills and not their social status.  Terrorism and chaos have overthrown their world and their society needs people prepared to protect their future.  This story is a lesson in taking complete strangers, throwing them together and making them a team.  They must learn to overcome their differences, past hardships, discrimination, education, and most of all, their pre-conceived notions of their own abilities.  As the team is thrown into an unknown and uncomfortable situation, the book quickly changes pace.  Faced with fictional characters that are violent, unpredictable, and unimagined, the reader may be surprised with the bombshells the author, A.J. Butcher threw in.   

The main characters are well-developed, leading the reader to almost predict how they will react in the case of several moral dilemmas.  The pacing moves along fairly quickly, but the reader should be aware that second half of the book turns rather creepy and bloody.  The ending is a bit predictable but it prepares the way for five more future stories.  If you are looking for a Stephen King-type story for an older teen, this is it. 

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  2 religious exclamations; 1 mild obscenity; 3 scatological words. 

Violence/Gore: Harsh training situations, usually in a hologram setting, include fighting, evasion, and survival training; suicide cult bursts into flames; mad scientist with ethics issues; brief description of  violent monsters attacking at night with intent to kill; brief description of violent and bloody attack on characters, four dead, two missing; creepy totem pole with frightening animal faces; an eerie picture on the wall; two page scene where several teen characters were drugged by an adult and taken prisoner; three teen characters strapped to tables for purpose of experimentation; three characters taken to holding rooms; dozens of humans are experimented on and changed into fictional characters; fictional characters used as workers; dozen or more fictional characters held prisoner in caged rooms; some half changed fictional characters are left to be re-experimented on; a one page description between characters about people having the option to be either hacked to pieces or changed into fictional characters; extended scene of teens questioning captors, includes laser guns fired by teen and adult; teen head butting an adult with a rifle; teen chased by adults, shot at with laser rifle on multiple occasions; chase scene with guns fired; teen character runs into tree with an in-air vehicle; multi-page extended scene of gun battle between teens, adults, and fictional characters, almost all left dead; gas chamber used for gene mutation; adult watches process of gas chamber and revels in non-voluntary mutation process; terrorism groups plan to use fictional characters as an army; several fictional characters shot at and killed; fictional characters attack teens then turn on themselves, clawing at their own heads; teen girl almost attacked and kills fictional characters with gun; violent description of more than a dozen fictional characters turning on their master, tearing him to pieces; one adult character’s neck is broken; all fictional characters have blood lust, turn violent and end up dying; weapon of mass destruction; building booby-trapped; brief description of building on fire, teens escaping through heat and smoke; teen character squishes a tiny holographic adult with the heel of her shoe in anger and revenge; rivalry between teen boys results in many angry words.

Sex/Nudity:  A few occasions of teen boy talking about desire to kiss other female characters; one teen boy is always hitting on female teen characters; two teens have an extended kissing period; one teen character wouldn’t mind a little “sweet & sour” with a female character; one teen boy uses mistletoe to try to get kisses from girls at a party; characters hold each other when outside on a cold night; teen boy characters always looking to be hooked up with a female character; three characters have their clothing changed while unconscious, non-sexual.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Social conflicts between teens, deaths, murder, suicide cult (ages not specified), terrorism, weapon of mass destruction, homelessness, destruction of worlds food supply, scientific ethics, gene mutation.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Drugs used to incapacitate teens; gas chamber for gene mutation.

Reviewed By Beth
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