S.T.I.N.K.B.O.M.B.: Secret Team of Intrepid-Natured Kids Battling Odious Masterminds, Basically by Rob Stevens

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S.T.I.N.K.B.O.M.B.: Secret Team of Intrepid-Natured Kids Battling Odious Masterminds, Basically by Rob Stevens

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Archie Hunt is apparently an ordinary boy with a passion for aeroplanes until the day he is recruited for the new teen division of MI6. Along with his James-Bond-obsessed best friend Barney, and the rather snooty Gemma, he has to find the evil Doctor Doom, stop him creating a mutant super-being - and still get back in time for school on Monday morning!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: August 2011
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0330530248

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Archie loves planes, and is never happier than when his pilot father lets him take the controls of his Dragonfly 600 jet aircraft, with its ability to hover, move at five times the speed of a helicopter and land and take off vertically. But in the honourable tradition of the hidden hero, his slightly nerdy preoccupation with flying, not to mention going round with chocolate-guzzling Barney who lives in a dream-world of spies, conspiracies and enemy agents, gets him bullied at school and nagged at by his teachers.

But this is not some sad, dreary story about mean streets and disappointed hopes. Nor is it merely a tale of young people forcibly recruited by rather shady government departments before being thrust into dangerous and painful situations. In fact, the whole thing is a joke-filled romp, using all the clichés and stock characters from spy movies to create a zany, fast-moving story where elements of the everyday and the extraordinary exist side by side in one glorious smorgasbord of fun.

Doctor Doom has devoted his life to developing a way of combining humans and animals in order to create a hybrid super-being which would share the best qualities of both. Not all his experiments have been successful, however, including the one in which he turned himself into a part-human part-lizard combo. In fact, some of the best comedy scenes in the book come from Finn, a boy who has been spliced with a goldfish and who now, although he's keen to help, is somewhat hampered by the fact that he only has a three-second memory.

Doom, of course, follows the path laid down by many a super-villain before him by bragging about his exploits and announcing his plans for future kidnaps in not-very-subtle codes on the internet as a challenge to the authorities. Archie and his friends follow the clues, ending up in the baddie's lair just as he is about to perform his ultimate and most fiendish operation, which could result, for his victims (or volunteers, as he likes to call them) in a fate surely worse than death. Tension is raised even higher by the fact that one of the test subjects is a person close to Archie, a person for whom he is prepared to risk his very life. So far so good: any fan of Bond and other spy films will recognise the fraught, clock-ticking atmosphere that imbues the best and worst of the genre. In the capable hands of Rob Stevens, this is the opportunity for a whole glorious gamut of jokes and spoofs, where each cliché is used and abused in the battle against the enemy. If you want to know, for example, how to defeat an immensely strong man who has acquired all the best qualities of ants . . . well, you'll just have to read the book. It's ingenious.

The reader may have one or two quibbles about this book. Archie suddenly finds he has unsuspected martial arts abilities, which seems odd, and the title and cover suggest a book altogether more frivolous and farts-and-pongs than this gripping adventure. And the jokes are occasionally pushed a little beyond their expiry date, particularly in the case of Tech Branch Specialist Holden Grey. He tries to 'get down with the kids', and he gets it wrong, over and over and over again. Okay, already - we geddit! Still, these are minor points, and they certainly won't spoil the enjoyment for most young readers, who will be delighted to learn that this is only the first in a series of stories about the mismatched crew. Great adventures, satisfyingly wicked villains, likeable heroes and a delightful combination of slapstick and thrills. Roll on the next volume!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Being a child in a book can be pretty hazardous: the risk of being recruited for something dangerous, or finding you have a destiny to fulfil, is worryingly high. You might want to try Charlie Bone and the Red Knight by Jenny Nimmo, or Night on Terror Island by Philip Caveney. And for more utterly silly fun, try The Space Crime Conspiracy by Gareth P Jones.

Buy S.T.I.N.K.B.O.M.B.: Secret Team of Intrepid-Natured Kids Battling Odious Masterminds, Basically by Rob Stevens at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy S.T.I.N.K.B.O.M.B.: Secret Team of Intrepid-Natured Kids Battling Odious Masterminds, Basically by Rob Stevens at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy S.T.I.N.K.B.O.M.B.: Secret Team of Intrepid-Natured Kids Battling Odious Masterminds, Basically by Rob Stevens at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy S.T.I.N.K.B.O.M.B.: Secret Team of Intrepid-Natured Kids Battling Odious Masterminds, Basically by Rob Stevens at Amazon.com.


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