A spy thriller that rings with important issues for young adults

Two Lies and a Spy, by Kat Carlton. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 256 pages. Hardcover $16.99.

Karina (“Kari”) Andrews is not your ordinary teenager, though she has the normal teenage angst about boys, her appearance, and high school. What makes her unusual and interesting is that Kari is the sixteen year old daughter of parents who work undercover operations for the CIA. Coincidentally, she goes to a fancy prep school in Washington D. C. where she has a crush on Luke Carson, whose father just happens to head the agency!

Kari has advanced martial arts skills, knows how to hastily improvise a disguise, and is a shrewd problem-solver. She has confidence, energy, and a strong sense of loyalty.  TwoLiesandaSpy

All of her skills and traits are tested when she receives a code text-message from her father that sends her into action. The message suggests a threat to the family. Kari has previously received instructions on what to do, where to go, and what to bring if she ever receives this message.

Taking charge of her younger brother Charlie – a computer geek who reads encyclopedia articles for entertainment – Kari begins to take action when she is befriended by two men who at first seem to be colleagues of her parents, but turn out to be would-be abductors. She discovers that these men are trying to capture Kari and Charlie as a way of gaining leverage against their parents, now perceived as Russian double-agents working against U. S. interests. Irene Andrews has been locked up in a CIA secret prison, and her husband Cal is missing.

Kari soon rallies her forces in an attempt to prove her parents’ innocence and rescue her mother.

The interaction of the teenagers is as powerful an ingredient as the thriller premise. One of Kari’s gang, Rita, is an expert hacker. Kale, who goes to a public school and is from a working class background, is Kari’s friend from martial arts classes.  He plays a major role in the rescue effort and also in the adolescent class warfare when he runs into conflict with Luke’s snooty sister, Lacey. Lacey is a slutty femme fatale addicted to her own appearance and bewildered by Kari’s inability to take fashion or makeup seriously. She’s not much help in the group’s quest.

Evan, a misplaced Brit, is an outsider who has somehow attached himself to this group. He seems a bit older and a bit wiser, but his way of playing the battle of insults with the others, especially Kari, seems immature enough even while witty. However, there’s more to Evan that I can’t reveal. I can tell you that he is quite attracted to Kari, but she keeps fawning over gentlemanly Luke. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the September 19, 2013 Naples Florida Weekly, the September 25 Fort Myers edition, and the September 26 Bonita Springs edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Kat Carlton

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