By Author / Illustrator
Mystery & Detective
Oxford University Press
Paperback / softback
I'm Amber Roberts. Just your average teenager. Life revolves around school and my best mate, Vi. Nothing too dramatic, and certainly nothing dangerous.Well. That's how things used to be. But now, my life is way more complicated: Mum and Dad have a massive secret and Vi's being all moody. But, bigger than that, I've just been recruited as a secret agent! That's right. Me. An actual spy.Exciting? It would be, if I had a clue what I was doing . . .
Amber Roberts: a typical schoolgirl whose life is turned upside down in more ways than one. Fearing that her parents are about to divorce, Amber is shocked to find that it is something altogether more worrying that they have been whispering about for weeks; it seems her life will never be the same again.
An escape room experience with her best friend Vi then starts an adventure that overshadows all her worries about her home life. Amber has been earmarked as a potential teenage spy - she has the ability to blend in, has super observational skills and is cool and calm in a crisis: just what The Agency want. And so begins an intense training period that offers such amazing opportunities for Amber and yet, in the process, it pulls her further away from her family and friends as she has to wrap herself up in the web of lies of espionage.
What an outstandingly captivating first book of what I sincerely hope will become a series from Em Norry. This book ticks all the boxes: believable characters, adventurous storyline, relatable incidents, it had me turning the pages in anticipation of what was going to happen next. The story twisted and turned, whilst merging edge-of-seat moments with real life experiences of family life, friendships and school.
I cannot wait to read Amber Under Cover to my class, who I know are going to love every page of it!
Links to friendship, family, school life, bullying, overcoming fears, opportunities, risk, truth, personal development and valuing the important things in life. As well as being a masterclass in developing believable characters and creating plot twists.
256 pages / Reviewed by Donna Burkert, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+
Amber Under Cover is an exciting, engaging super sleuthing spy adventure!
Teenage Amber is already reeling from the 'trauma' of finding out she is going to be a big sister after 14 years as an only child when this becomes the very least of her problems... A victory in an escape room experience earmarks Amber as possessing all the qualities to train to become a teenage spy. Amber finds herself swept up in secrets and thrust into a world of underground bunkers, martial arts and surveillance training; all without being able to breathe a word to her parents or very best friend, Vi. Being a spy is a dramatic, exciting, unusual chance of a lifetime but it doesn't help Amber's already strained friendship with Vi or the feeling that she is out in the cold in her school's social pecking order.
Amber is a totally believable , likeable character as she is thrust into a world of espionage and danger. She is certainly more nervous and nerdy than cool, calm and collected ! This teenage trainee is unconfident, insecure and full of self doubt and this endears her to the reader and adds realism to the story - we can see it is going to be a long journey for Amber to become a polished, unflappable expert spy, and that is the fun of the story.
The book is fast paced and full of thrills and tension as well as humour. It has a modern day spy plot featuring hackers, cyber crime, bitcoin and computer savvy teenage techs. There are some smooth, slick characters, settings and gadgets along the way as the author builds (and invites the reader into) this whole new secret side of Amber's life . Watching Amber's initial clumsy, hesitant attempts to create a new persona for herself become more assured and thought out is enjoyable to see and sets the scene nicely, by the end of the book, for the reader to want to know what will happen next for Amber.
What will her next spy mission be? Will her parents or Vi become suspicious of her double life? I am really looking forward to the next book and going undercover with Amber again...
Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jenny Caddick, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+