Title: Spy Ski School
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2016
Page Count: 350
Age Recommendation: 8
Final Impression: Eh
Ben Ripley enrolls in ski school, where the slopes, and the stakes, get really steep in this follow-up to the Edgar Award–nominated Spy School, Spy Camp, and Evil Spy School.
Thirteen-year-old Ben Ripley is not exactly the best student spy school has ever seen—he keeps flunking Advanced Self Preservation. But outside of class, Ben is pretty great at staying alive. His enemies have kidnapped him, shot at him, locked him in a room with a ticking time bomb, and even tried to blow him up with missiles. And he’s survived every time.
After all that unexpected success, the CIA has decided to activate Ben for real.
The Mission: Become friends with Jessica Shang, the daughter of a suspected Chinese crime boss, and find out all of her father’s secrets. Jessica wants to go to ski school in the Rocky Mountains, so a select few spy school students are going skiing too—under cover, of course.
Ben might not be able to handle a weapon (or a pair of skis), but he can make friends easy peasy. That is, until his best friend from home drops in on the trip and jeopardizes the entire mission… ~ Goodreads
So this is like the fourth book in this series? I remember when I was just a youngin at twelve years old when I picked up the first Spy School book. It was one of my favorite series. Now though….
Spi Ski School wastes no time in jumping right into the action. Personally I liked this book a little extra because it was set in Vale. And I’ve been to Vale. HOW COOL IS THAT?!? Anyhoo the first half of the book is spent skiing and pining after beautiful girls. The last few chapters are really the only parts with any action, and honestly it’s a little tiring. The bad guys show up, they get chased for a bit. Only one person dies… It almost seems like this is a book not meant to be extremely violent!
Spi Ski School is an absolutely perfect fourth book. It has the same high risks, mystery, and time limit that every action book these days seems to have. But for some reason, I really couldn’t bring myself to care. I think that it may be partly because I’ve almost aged out of this series, but also because the stakes weren’t really that high (even though they were at 8,000 feet). Although at one point, WW3 could have potentially been sparked, I didn’t think anything would actually happen. I blame this on my charmingly optimistic personality, the fact that there’s probably going to be another book, and sort of bad villains.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Stuart Gibbs. He’s a fantastic writer with wonderful stories. I especially loved Ben in this book. I feel like he’s an accurate portrayal of a middle schooler. He’s also such a wonderful person and respects other people’s boundaries?!?! *applause* I also loved all the other characters in this book. They’re all unique and special. However, this book didn’t do it for me. While it did entertain me, it didn’t make me feel anything. Personally, I read to be swept away in another world. Facing someone else’s problems, living some other life. Falling in love, grief, anger, pain. All from the comfort of my own couch. I know I’ve read a good book if I finish and I’m actually physically and mentally exhausted from the emotional roller-coaster that I had just been put through. Whether a book has made me angry, happy, scream, or cry, it has done something for me. It made me attached enough to care about the well being of the world or characters that I’m reading about.
That didn’t happen for this book. Honestly, even if the plot is weak, if there is a well set-up, complex antagonist, I would probably like it. However, this was an extremely weak antagonist. He had a horrible plan that he didn’t actually come up with, I’m confused as to why he even had to be in America in the first place, he had no spine whatsoever, and he probably only had about half a page of time in the book. The other villains in the book had about ten to twenty pages of time in the book. The goons employed by the villain, honestly are the real antagonist because they actually did
everything something. On top of that, they’re actually reffered to as ‘the bad guys’. Yeah. The ‘bad guys’ are absolutely evil. Why? Because they’re bad. Duh. Developed characters whom?
What was the rest of the 329.5 pages spent on, then? You may be asking. Well, dear Kittycatian, I have an answer for you. While our dear villain was off doing legitimate business deals, our lovable protagonists were putting the entire mission and fellow agents in danger. (I’m looking at you, Erica. #stillbitter). On top of that, most of the book was spent trying to resolve a non-existent love triangle. Yup. Fun fun.
Another thing that was annoying was all the characters were flat, not just the bad guys. I thought that the most interesting character in the book would be Jessica, the ‘main bad guy’s’ daughter. She’s never really had any friends, her father is evil but she doesn’t know it, and she’s extremely rich. However, she was probably the second worst character in the book. Despite being desperate for friends, she basically shuns the first person who was nice and talked to her because she got a ‘crush’ on someone else??? Like? Um, if I was desperate for friends I would be nice to anyone regardless if I had a crush on them or not.
Another thing that bothered me was the book itself had this sort of worn out feel. Like a story that was meant to be only a couple books but extended itself to four, leaving the plot feeling unoriginal and nothing actually being added onto the story.
But while there were plenty of things that I disliked about this book, I have to appreciate the way that the Stuart wrapped up the ending, but didn’t tie all the ends. Leaving readers satisfied, but open for (yet another) book.
“Just clip the red one,” Cyrus told her.
“They’re all red,” Erica informed him.
“They are?” Cyrus asked. “Curse those Soviets! Everything always has to be red with them.”
“You ski like a wounded cow.”
“No!” I lied, selling it as hard as I could. “I don’t even think she’s that attractive. In fact, to be totally honest, she’s kind of ugly. I actually feel sorry for her…”