Saturday, January 27, 2007

Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop, by Michael P. Spradlin

Michael P. Spradlin
ISBN: 0-06-059407-1
Young Adult
Book #07-005

Rachel Buchanan is the ultimate California princess: wealthy and spoiled in everything except her parents' time and attention, she has made a career of getting in trouble to get attention. Unfortunately, her parents' solution to the problem is to sic their lawyer at her, so when Rachel gets arrested for grand theft auto (she simply happened to be in the car when it was stolen and was the only one who got caught), naturally the lawyer is left to handle the legalities. Unfortunately for Rachel, her smart mouth draws the judge's ire, and she is sentenced to a year at Blackthorn Academy. The Pennsylvania boarding school is under the direct supervision of headmaster Jonathon Kim, a former special forces agent who is universally admired by his students. Except, of course, for Rachel, who is completely focused on escaping Blackthorn and getting back to her friends in California.

Rachel's misfortune proves to be the making of her, however. Her protests are met with Mr. Kim's quietly dignified reasoning, and her outbursts are ignored. As she finds herself outwitted at every turn, Rachel reluctantly concedes her admiration for Mr. Kim. Her innate curiosity leads to the discovery that Mr. Kim is running a covert spy operation, and when the headmaster disappears mysteriously, it is Rachel who convinces the other students that their leader is in trouble and it is up to them to save him.

SPY GODDESS: LIVE AND LET SHOP is first in a series that promises to be very successful. Rachel is an appealing amalgam of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sidney Bristow. (Adult readers may find Rachel rather similar to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum.) Her smart mouth and self-consciousness will appeal to girls of all ages, but the martial arts and mystery subplot will draw in male readers, as well. The mystery was a bit skimpy and incoherent, but the action and dialogue make up for that, and the relationships between the characters are far more interesting, anyway. Reluctant readers will find the brisk pace captivating. All in all, SPY GODDESS: LIVE AND LET SHOP is an appealing story that will leave readers wanting more.

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