Amber Undercover

Publisher: Oxford

Amber and her best friend Vi are pretty different: Amber’s shy, while Vi craves the spotlight; Amber stays cool in stressful situations while Vi panics, and Vi seems to be getting more and more involved with a different crowd at school. Yet, while it would seem that Vi is more popular, it’s Amber that is chosen to be a spy by a mysterious agency after passing tests disguised as an escape room and a virtual reality game: it turns out that staying calm under pressure and excellent science and maths results do matter, after all.

After her initial training – which her parents are told is part of an international STEM schools programme  - Amber is sent to infiltrate an exclusive boarding school in Oslo that The Agency suspects harbours members of a cybercrime unit called CHAOS. At first, she’s intimidated by some of the kids there, all of whom seem super intelligent and rich. Yet, after a while, Amber realises that she’s more than capable of playing the others at their own game – even the somewhat distracting Luca - and perfecting her spy skills into the bargain.

A fast-paced thriller-style story with tech detail that doesn’t overwhelm the plot, as well as a humorous and likeable main character, Amber Undercover is a truly great read. As well as a saving the world plot, themes of friendship and family are just as important: Amber’s mum having a new baby and Amber’s friendships with Vi and the different gang in Norway all weave into a story that’s ultimately about growing up, finding our niche and learning to value what makes us unique.

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