The Sixth Book I Finished in May: City Spies by James Ponti

I can be easily drawn to a beautiful cover more often than not, so before anything else, I'm going to show you something stunning: City Spies by James Ponti which I got from OwlCrate Jr's March "Code Breakers" box. Though this picture doesn't do it justice, I’m sure we can narrowly concentrate on the big picture and still find it gorgeous:

City Spies follows the story of a twelve-year-old girl hacker named Sara Martinez who tries to break into the New York City foster care in order to expose the ugly truth about her foster parents. As a consequence of her action, Sara is thrown into a juvenile detention facility instead of getting justice and is not allowed to use any computer for a long period of time. Though as luck would have it, a strange man who claims himself as an MI6 secret agent comes and rescues her out of nowhere. Sara's journey as a spy then starts in Scotland where he brings her to meet the other spy kids: Sydney, Kat, Rio, and Paris. And before she knows it, they once again move to Paris where her very first official mission takes place.

As a starter, I could certainly picture my younger self picking up this book and enjoying it as much as I did now. Not to mention the fact that it's kid-friendly, City Spies was packed with clever mysteries and dare I say, captivating. At some point, I was reminded of Enid Blyton's mystery books I used to read all the time as a kid as their vibes felt pretty similar somehow: the riddles weren't very easy to guess though not exactly complicated either. For a middle-grade book, I'd say the combination was reasonable.

I did fancy the fact that the mission took place in Paris. It's another pleasure to admit that the cover didn't disappoint: the narration explored Paris stunningly included in it all the hidden places and imaginary secret entrances. Meanwhile, the characters were admirably developed as well, and I adored the backstories that were told in the form of flashbacks which showed how tough and relatable the kids were. It's also heartening to see each of the spy kids mastering different and unique talents by effort, though I couldn't help but feel like they were way too genius for their ages. Considering the adult spies would've had more experiences and sources, I was actually hoping to see more contributions from Mother and Monty. But since it's a book about the spy kids, I suppose it's understandable.

Even though it was not that well progressed, the friendship in this book was honestly pretty adorable. I admired how they bridged the gap between their differences in terms of personalitythe brilliant Sara who was later known as Brooklyn, the private Kat, the rebellious Sydney, the leader Paris, and the know-it-all Rio. If there's a sequel to this book one day, I hope they would embark upon a mission with a widely developed friendship as the highlight.

City Spies was overall a quick and thrilling read for me. With good storytelling as an addition to a fast pace, this book felt like something everyone should pick up for a fun middle-grade read experience. A few questions are still left hanging in the air, so let's hope that we will meet these brilliant spies in City Spies 2.0 later on.