I just finished reading Greg Logsted’s Alibi Junior High in a single sitting. Thankfully, the family had other things to do for a while because the author nailed me to the pages with his premise and with the fantastic pacing of this young adult novel. I wasn’t tempted even once to get up and go do something else. Logsted starts his spell on page one, and readers will have to stay with him to see what ultimately happens to Cody Saron, the thirteen-year-old professional spy.
Admittedly, I had to check my willing suspension of disbelief at the door. But I do the same thing for any fantasy novel I read. Thirteen-year-old spies? Then I thought about Uganda and other places around the globe where children are given assault rifles and get drafted into military maneuvers.
I love the Alex Rider series as well, but those books seem like a fantasy story compared to Logsted’s sharp-edged view of the espionage world. Cody’s story could actually happen the way the author describes it, and I felt a little uncomfortable with that as much as it excited me.
For all of Cody’s life, he’s faced constant danger and the threat of death. He’s comfortable with those things. It’s the idea of junior high and all the new social pecking order stuff he has to learn that really throws him off his stride. I enjoyed the confrontations he has with his teachers and the principal a lot — and ended up laughing out loud at his one-liners and sarcastic wit. This is a hero smart, aggressive pre-teens can root for. Better than that, they can totally understand Cody’s dislike of the public school system.
I do, however, wish Cody would have found that one teacher who truly “got” him. Most junior high kids do.
Cody’s next door neighbor, a returning Iraq war vet who lost an arm, does get Cody, however. One of the best parts in the book that links them is when a string of firecrackers goes off and Cody and Andy hit the ground together. They knew each other at once.
I liked all the thinking that Logsted puts into the conflict he creates for his character, and I enjoyed tremendously the creative ways that Cody decides to overcome those conflicts. A lot of the action and characterization gets carried out in the dialogue.
The book is easy to read and paced so well. Every time you think Cody has one problem solved, another crops up. The various mysteries that Logsted sets up get solved pretty well and with twists that I didn't see coming.
I don’t know if this is the only book that’s going to be written about Cody Saron, but I’d definitely like another. Either in junior high or in international danger would be just fine with me.
This is a great book for reluctant readers and boys who’d rather spend their time playing video games. Cody Saron is cut from the same heroic cloth as the characters in those games.