Cover Image: City Spies

City Spies

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Member Reviews

Sara is being charged with hacking into the foster care system, when her lawyer is suddenly replaced with one that tell her to trust him (even though he isn’t a lawyer). She ends up trusting him and meets “Mother”, who asks her to join him. We soon learn what he means and off she goes to Scotland to meet all the others on the team and hear about the mission.

I had been hearing a lot about this book and I can see why! This was a great, can’t put down, have to read the next 2 in the series kind of book! I love how the book flashes back, so we can get the back stories of everyone. This book had me on the edge of my seat. I’ve already half way through book 2. This would be a great read aloud and a must read for later elementary and middle schoolers!! Highly recommend!!

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A group of kid spies from around the world teaming up to bring down a villainous organization???

Yes please!

City Spies is the first in a 3 book series. This book introduces us to a group of kids led by a former spy known to them as "Mother". Mother was a MI6 spy who now recruits and trains young people to be spies. When he (yes, Mother is a man) saves Sara Martinez from a trip to juvie for hacking, she enters into a world of friendship, intrigue and danger. Will she be up for the challenge?

I LOVED this book. Found family is one of my favorite themes in books and this book had it in spades. I loved these kids and the beauty in their diversity, both culturally and personality wise. The story is well developed and we're left with some questions up until the very end (and then with some more until the next book). The action was exciting without being scary which makes for a great middle/late middle grade read. I was really rooting for Sara and the entire crew throughout and was deeply engaged in the mystery they were uncovering. This book also had the added benefit of both Scotland and Paris as settings.

If you're looking for an exciting feel-good spy thriller with characters you can root for, look no further! I can't wait to dive into book 2!

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I really enjoyed this book . Thank you to the author and publisher who sent me an Arc copy of this book. I highly recommend this book.

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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I was actually quite surprised by the lower ratings after I finished the book and due to that, I think it's important to mention that this book is geared towards a middle-grade audience. City Spies has everything that tween me would have eaten up, especially because I would wholeheartedly believe and pine that I'd be getting picked to be a super cool, badass spy and save the entire freaking world. I felt incredibly immersed in the world Ponti created, the unfolding story, character development, and twists and turns of this story were incredible. I did feel, however, that the ending felt a tad bit rushed due to a pacing change in the last few chapters. But I feel no need to dock a point for that as it didn't ruin my reading experience but rather made me think of that vine (why are we going so freaking fast?!) I would highly recommend this to anyone who appreciates middle-grade fiction, even though I am not the target demographic, it made me feel like a little kid again reading it. There is immense magic in immersing a younger version of yourself into a story that you wish you could have read then. And there is something to be said about the talent of the writer for the ability to transport a reader into the mindset of a younger them when they felt massively invincible within the pages of a book.

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This was so much fun! It quite reminded me of the chaotic heist scene in the first St Trinian's movie, which also featured using a school event to hide their real agendas. I loved how diverse the cast was, how easy it was to get to know the characters and the twists and turns of the story.

Although our main character is hacker Sara, we also get the povs of most of the rest of the cast - Mother, Sydney, Rio and Paris. This helped me get to know their backstories better, and how they came to be recruited by Mother. Kat I don't remember hearing from, and I think there's a reason for that which will be revealed in a later book.

The found family trope mixed with heists, plot twists and plenty of action made this a fast paced read that I sped through. Sara and Sydney are both witty, intelligent characters that made me want to continue the series as soon as put the first book down.

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I read this to my 8 year old son and we had such a good time. It’s hard to come by middle grade books that don’t read like “little kid literature” but this one by Mr. Pontic was smart, witty, keep you on the edge of your seat with dangerous situations and lots of sleuthing. As a parent I love when I find a read aloud that is also fun for me. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

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I love this middle school spy novel! I'm already reading book 2... Great characters, savvy intrigue, twisty plot, and just plain fun. The pacing is wonderful - the book started out fast and eased up enough so the reader could meet each member of the crew, but the action didn't slow down. I now want to read all of Ponti's work.

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Based in Scotland, the City Spies are five kids from different parts of the world who use their unique skills in missions of espionage. They attend a youth summit in Paris, where they work to stop other schools from winning a million euros, while also defeating a villain.

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I've had a good number of students asking for mysteries and I think this series will work well for them.

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Every kid's dream come to life in a middle grade novel. Who hasn't dreamt of becoming a super spy? Well in this thrilling adventure book, five kids are given the opportunity of a lifetime. Train to become spies for MI-6. Based in Scotland, the five kids become the City Spies. Their age gives them an edge, an advantage that adults don't have and they can get into places where other spies can't. No one would suspect a kid.

Clever and skilled, Sara is a hacker. Unfortunately her most recent crime has landed her in juvy, until she is released by the mysterious Mother. Mother is the head of the youth division of MI-6 and she makes a deal with Sara to work for the agency. Soon Sara finds herself using her skills to hack into a system to prevent a rival from winning a million dollars, all while doing dangerous stunts, stopping the bad guy, and trying to make friends with her new teammates and fellow spies.

Fast paced and action packed, this book will captivate middle grade readers who dream of being a secret agent. There is some content that may be a little upsetting to some readers. Content Warning: Kidnapping, Murder and Death, Violence. The diverse characters are relatable and their underlying motivations are explored as well as the day to day training of becoming a spy. Plenty of humor too. Kids will really like this one!

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A student brought this book to our attention and it has been a hit. I myself can't wait to read the third one.

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This was a super fun read~ the writing was engaging, there were a variety of characters, and the plot was fast-flowing and easy to follow. I think my 12YO will love this! Perhaps because it's written from an omniscient point of view, there wasn't quite as much depth to the characters as I've seen in other team-oriented books that are favorites in our family (the Lockwood & Co. series comes to mind), but I think fans of Stuart Gibbs will gobble this up.

This review has been shared on my Goodreads account here:

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Thank you Netgalley and Aladdin Books for the gifted first book that I read along with the audiobook from the library!

Hello and welcome to a new addition to my favorite middle grade series. This series incorporates a diverse cast of endearing middle grade characters who navigate not only spy craft, but the emotions of real life so well.

Book 1 is a beautiful introduction to this team of child spies and their handlers. You get some big picture information but you also get an up close look at some of the character's motivations. Plus you get to see both action and intelligence play out in the character's spy craft.

Content Warning: Kidnapping, Murder and Death, Violence

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This was a good middle school fiction read! It's a story about young adults who are orphans that have extraordinary talents. They are called to join the M16 group of spies in England to use their talents to save the world. It was a really good story that had enough realism and action to keep the middle grade students engaged. I'm glad that they are planning future books in this series. Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.

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Such an amazing book!! It begins with getting the reader interested in what's going on, and it gallops from there! Fast moving and loaded with great characters and situations! Middle books are greater than adult books because they have to move faster and be more interesting!! Truly loved the concept! Can't wait for the next book!

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This is a charming book for young readers, with a fast-paced plot and attention to character development and interpersonal relationships. The main character is very easy to relate to, because even with her amazing hacker skills, she has the relatable feel of a normal kid in an abnormal/appalling family situation who just wants to find a place to belong. The story is fast-paced, with good twists!

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Short version: Get this book.

Longer version: I first became aware of Ponti through his TOAST series. My then-seventh-grader resists everything I suggest, but her love of John Grisham’s Theodore Boone books prompted me to nudge her a little. When the pandemic closed our schools, I got her a box set of the TOAST books and she loved them. So City Spies was a natural next step.

Reader, she has read the book at least 10 times. She loves it. This is an epic win.
Reader, I have read it too. I also love it.

Ponti has a great grasp of tween and tween behavior. The characters feel real, even if their situations (consultants to the FBI, MI6 agents) are a stretch for the imagination. The cover story for their presence in the organization is clever, and these characters function so well in their circumstances that it becomes easy to suspend your disbelief.

My daughter (and I) also enjoy Ponti’s sense of humor and sneaky allusions. We loved the Matilda references in Chapter 2.

The plot itself is fun, with teen themes of fitting in and adapting to new situations, as well as a fast-paced spy story.

Possible objectionable material:
Sara is a hacker and we meet her in juvie because of her illegal activities. Some violence. People have died, but offscreen. Perilous situations. Tweens and teens running around unsupervised. Deception.

Who might like this book:
People who love spy stories. People who enjoy humor. Those who like stories about teens. Either gender—both are well represented in this book. This book was very readable for me as an adult, with strong adult characters.

Thank you to Simon and Shuster and NetGalley for providing me an ARC in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

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Five tw/teens, Rio, Paris, Brooklyn, Sydney, Kat, known for their hometowns, and all with unique abilities, have been recruited by “Mother” to be part of a M16 spy cell. As he finds and recruits, he whisks them off to Scotland where they live at a weather observatory known as the Farm. When not honing their skills, they attend a nearby prep school. Lots of action with authentic characters and dialogue. Already recommended to a fourth grader, who couldn't believe she has to wait for the next installment, so I recommended the author's Dead City series to tide her over.

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We meet a series of special kids who are all recruited to be international spies for British Intelligence Agency, MI-6. Each one possesses a set of unique skills that make them the perfect team. In this series opener, they have to travel to Paris and go undercover in a science competition. The stakes are high, and the risk-level is even higher when other spies start winding up dead, all with a unique purple thumbprint on their foreheads. Will these kid spies be able to thwart the evil masterminds and save the day??

What a ride! This book was nonstop action and adventure from the start. Well-developed characters, international settings, inclusive representation -- it's fantastic from start to finish. Highly recommend for all middle grade collections.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this incredible book. I love the flashbacks that added to the story. I loved all of the characters and how they interacted with each other. I highly recommend!

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