May Contain Spoilers
I can’t lie – when I saw the title for this book, I was dying to read it. I thought it would be a fun spy caper, kind of like Alley Carter’s books. I had mixed results with this one, mainly because of the protagonist. And you definitely have to suspend disbelief, because some of the plot is so over the top it is hard to swallow.
Peter Smith aka Jake Morrow, is a spy. Part of the CIAs Operation Early Bird program, the former hacker has been given a new lease on life. Instead of serving time, the teen was given the opportunity to work for the government whose computer systems he hacked. Intelligent, fluent in several languages, and supremely confident in his abilities, he was almost killed on a mission that went south. Now, disgraced and only in the CIA until he’s finished with high school, he feels he has a lot to prove to his superiors. And to do that, he is determined to take down the dangerous hacker he believes is going to a private school in Colorado. Requesting a transfer to Carlisle Academy, which is known for its stellar STEM program, he settles in and relentlessly pursues clues on the identity of the hacker.
The book primarily takes place during one day, when the bad guys from the mission that went bad in the Ukraine take over the school and take all of the students hostage. Peter / Jake, through a stroke of good luck, was not in his Chem class when the terrorist arms dealers drop down from the ceiling and take control of the classroom. When he discovers what’s going on, he knows that the bad guys are after him, and that they want him dead. He also knows he can’t trust anyone, and that he has to move quickly to save his classmates. All of this ruckus makes him forget about the picture a classmate took of him and posted to Twitter, and that is now trending in Colorado. Talk about the end of a career in espionage. If his boss didn’t think he was a dufus before, she isn’t going to be happy to have his cover blown with the hashtag prettyboy plastered all over the internet.
I guess my biggest disappointment was Peter himself. This guy can do no wrong, at least in his own mind. He came across as self-centered, and his easy dismissal of the students helping him save the day drove me nuts. He is so hard-headed, and even when he’s wrong, and he knows he’s wrong, he still keeps blindly charging forward. And he thinks that Katie, the resilient girl he has a crush on, is impatient and careless, even when she saves his bacon so many times. Ugh. Peter’s ego gets in the way of his dreams of being a CIA operative, and he is so focused on himself he almost puts the entire world at risk by thinking that the only reason for the school take over is to kill him. It’s not, but he doesn’t figure that out until it’s almost too late.
While this didn’t totally work for me, it’s still a fun read. The teens do end up saving the day, despite the adults interference into their rescue mission. I loved Katie, and hope that if there is another book, she will feature prominently in the action, at least to keep Peter humble. Peter / Jake needs the back-up, even if he doesn’t want to admit it.
Grade: 3 stars
Review copy provided by publisher
About the book:
A CIA prodigy’s cover is blown when he accidentally becomes an internet sensation in #Prettyboy Must Die, inspired by the #Alexfromtarget story.
When Peter Smith’s classmate snaps a picture of him during a late night run at the track, Peter thinks he might be in trouble. When she posts that photo–along with the caption, “See the Pretty Boy Run,”–Peter knows he’s in trouble. But when hostiles drop through the ceiling of his 6th period Chem Class, Peter’s pretty sure his trouble just became a national emergency.
Because he’s not really Peter Smith. He’s Jake Morrow, former foster-kid turned CIA operative. After a massive screw-up on his first mission, he’s on a pity assignment, a dozen hit lists and now, social media, apparently. As #Prettyboy, of all freaking things.
His cover’s blown, his school’s under siege, and if he screws up now, #Prettyboy will become #Deadboy faster than you can say, ‘fifteen minutes of fame.’ Trapped in a high school with rabid killers and rabid fans, he’ll need all his training and then some to save his job, his school and, oh yeah, his life.