Amber Undercover

Authored by Em Norry
Published by Oxford University Press

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Amber Undercover is a thrilling adventure that sees teenager Amber Roberts unwittingly fall into the world of espionage. After receiving free tickets to trial a brand-new escape room with her best friend Vi, Amber finds that she has quite the knack for logical problem solving and thinking under pressure. Her super surveillance skills do not go unnoticed and Amber is invited back by the company. Here, she finds herself enrolled on a secret spy training course! Balancing her new responsibility with her increasingly rocky relationship with Vi will not be easy. With Mum and Dad revealing life changing news on top, Amber has quite a handful to negotiate. As high intensity missions begin to roll in, the protagonist has a lot to learn about who to trust and how to remain discrete. But can she keep on track with her family and friendships at the same time?

Norry packs a great deal into this chapter book, telling her story with strong pace and suspense. Whilst the protagonist might be a part of a high security spy team, there is a great deal of underground information that not even she knows about. Kept in the dark and not always entirely sure what she is getting into, mystery and uncertainty is rife. With plenty of difficult to decipher characters, there are multiple ulterior motives and schemes for readers to unpick right up until the end. This novel will be a sure winner for readers who have enjoyed the elements of secrecy within the Adventures on Trains series, but with cool technology added to the mix.

Told in first person, Norry sprinkles everyday challenges for teens into the midst of Amber’s spy adventures. Difficulties within the protagonist’s life beyond the secret services propel the story forward and adds time pressures into each critical assignment. From fractured friendships, bullies and family problems, Amber’s personal life sprinkles a layer of realism to the adventure, which young readers will connect with.

Amber Undercover would make a good addition to the reading corner for children in Year Six or the school library for pupils in Key Stage Three. Norry does briefly broach more mature topics such as first loves and periods, which is worth being aware of when recommending to Key Stage Two children. Amber’s story leaves lots of opportunities for development if there are to be further installations to the book, and shows readers how much young people can achieve with perseverance and self belief.