March 6, 2024

REVIEW City Spies (City Spies #1) by James Ponti

City Spies (City Spies #1) by James Ponti
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: March 9, 2020
Format: Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio

James Ponti’s series opener City Spies was a fun adventure series perfect for middle-grade level readers and above. In a book where Spy Kids meets James Bond and Mission Impossible, an orphan joins a rag tag group of child spies on a mission to save the world. 

While the child spy theme is not a new one to books, I really appreciated how the author put a unique spin on things. Each of the different child spies has their own special gifts (which inspired “Mother” to recruit them) and it’s quite a diverse cast from all around the world. The mystery and the saving the world issue is the main plot, but the author does reveal bits and pieces about each of the individual characters as secondary storylines. “Mother’s” storyline was the most unique (though I’m still not sold on his nickname) and I’m curious to see how that will play out in subsequent books. 

The storyline was also a unique aspect of the book. Instead of having the main character Brooklyn jump straight into spy training after Mother recruits her, she goes almost directly into her first mission with the other children. I did miss getting multiple scenes of training sequences, but in return I appreciated that readers get to jump straight into the action. As a side note, I did want to warn any potential readers that there is some serious stuff happening in the book. The crimes that the kids have to deal with are no joke, there are mentions of murder and other violent acts like dismemberment and explosions (never on page), and there is some mild language in the book (things like freaking and stupid, nothing to the degree of an ‘f-bomb’).  

Overall, this was an excellent read and I look forward to checking out more of the books in the series. Lisa Flanagan did a great job bringing the voices of Brooklyn and the other characters to life with her performance in the audiobook narration of the story. If you or a young reader in your life enjoys mystery and thrillers with spies, this book is worth a listen.

About the Author

James Ponti is the New York Times Bestselling author of three Middle Grade book series: the DEAD CITY trilogy about a secret society that polices the undead who live beneath New York City; the Edgar Award-winning FRAMED! series about a pair of Sherlockian tweens who solve mysteries in Washington, D.C.; and the all-new CITY SPIES about an unlikely squad of five kids from around the world who form an elite MI6 spy team.

James grew up in Atlantic Beach, Florida and lives in Orlando. He's a die hard fan of the Boston Red Sox, the USC Trojans, and the Italian National Soccer Team. He loves travel, writing, and spending time with his amazing family.

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