Two Lies and a Spy

Two Lies and a Spy

4.5 11
by Kat Carlton
     
 

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Kari plunges into the world of espionage on a mission to save her parents while trying to impress the guy she’s been in love with forever in this entertaining thriller that “goes down as easy as popcorn” (Kirkus Reviews).

When sixteen-year-old Kari’s dad sends her an unexpected text, she and her brother immediately go into hiding.

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Overview

Kari plunges into the world of espionage on a mission to save her parents while trying to impress the guy she’s been in love with forever in this entertaining thriller that “goes down as easy as popcorn” (Kirkus Reviews).

When sixteen-year-old Kari’s dad sends her an unexpected text, she and her brother immediately go into hiding. Because when your parents are superspies and your dad declares a Code Black, it can only mean something bad. Very bad.

Kari soon discovers that her parents have been disavowed and declared traitors, and she’s determined to clear their names. Breaking into the Agency seems like a reasonable plan, especially with a team that includes her longtime crush, Luke, as well as her two best friends—an expert hacker with attitude and a master martial artist—and Luke’s popular, vindictive twin sister. Oh, and a new guy, who’s as cute as he is complicated…

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Heather Christensen
Karina Andrews may seem like a normal sixteen-year-old; but when a “Code Black” text message arrives from her parents in the middle of art class, normal goes out the window—literally, as she has to shimmy out a bathroom window to leave school without attracting attention. Kari’s parents are spies, and a Code Black means “get your genius seven-year-old brother Charlie and meet us at the prearranged location.” Except, when Kari and her brother arrive, they’re not there, or at any of the next three meeting places. Suddenly, Kari and her brother are in hiding from the very agency her parents work for—the agency that is now accusing her parents of being double agents. Carlton’s new series is full of intrigue, snappy dialogue, and sexual tension. Most of the characters are flat and one-dimensional—poor Charlie spends most of the novel tucked away in a corner being smart and cute. Kari and her friends’ adventures are pretty far-fetched, and the book’s villain does not make an appearance until the very end; but James Bond wanna-be’s will eat up the thrill-a-minute pace and light romance. Perfect for fans of Anthony Horowitz’s “Alex Rider” and Ally Carter’s “Gallagher” series. Reviewer: Heather Christensen; Ages 12 up.
VOYA - Lauri J. Vaughan
Kari Andrews has just received the Code Black emergency message from her secret agent parents that means move—now! She escapes art class at Kennedy Academy via the bathroom window and connects with genius younger brother Charlie at a predetermined park in Georgetown. Unfortunately, two shady characters show up and try to kidnap Charlie and Kari. When mom and dad fail to make the second meet-up location, Kari starts to get seriously worried. But being the daughter of spies comes with a certain skill set, and her martial arts training does not hurt. She and Charlie are able to evade a second capture and go into hiding, where Kari enlists the help of friends—sharp-tongued computer whiz Rita, martial arts training partner Kale, and Luke, the dreamy son of the director of the spy agency—to help track down her parents. Also embroiled are Evan, the hot but very self-absorbed new kid at school, and Lacey, Luke's troubled twin sister. The premise is intriguing, but the "Am-I-really-wearing-this?" scenes undermine the tension of espionage. What Carlton's story lacks in plausibility, it makes up for in pacing and dialogue. Kari and Evan are especially well-drawn characters. Also, if the series of events is not terribly realistic, the execution of individual scenes is. Readers might not believe that a handful of teenagers can break into a high-security detention center, but at least what happens there seems feasible enough. The wrap-up is a bit sudden and relies too heavily on undeveloped plot elements to feel fully satisfying. Kari and Charlie are obviously being set up for a sequel in which a more developed whiz-kid brother could add interesting texture to the plot. Overall, this is a light read, good for an empty afternoon, but do not expect it to resonate. Reviewer: Lauri J. Vaughan
Kirkus Reviews
A spy caper spiced up with teen romance. Unlike most high school juniors, when Kari Andrews gets a text from her dad to pick up milk after school, she kicks into high gear, recognizing it as a Code Black situation: a family emergency. For Kari, the Code Black text sets in motion a series of choreographed events including making a skillful escape out of a school window, ditching her prep school uniform for a goth-girl disguise, picking up her whip-smart 7-year-old brother, Charlie, and hiding out in a local hotel while they wait for their parents, who are U.S. spies, to arrive. Kari's parents don't show, though, so she must attempt to locate them, relying on the help of her friends, who have talents ranging from makeup artist to judo master and parents with high-level government positions. Although the plot is highly reminiscent of the movie Spy Kids, Kari's narration of events and her feelings, especially those related to her crush, Luke, give the text a fresh and believable tone, facilitating a suspension of disbelief as this band of teens takes on the CIA. Although a setup for future volumes, the novel can stand alone, with a complete story arc and fully fleshed-out characters. Goes down as easy as popcorn. (Thriller. 13-16)
School Library Journal
09/01/2013
Gr 7 Up—Kari Andrews's motto is, "when all else fails, resort to violence." This is sort of odd coming from a 16-year-old prep-school student living in the DC area, but then her parents are both spies working for the Agency, which readers can presume to mean the CIA. She is also proficient at judo and takes care of her seven-year-old genius brother, Charlie, as one of her missions in life. The plot is totally preposterous. Kari gets a message from her parents to grab Charlie and hide until they can reach her. With her high school friends at her side, she does some spying of her own when her parents fail to show up at the three designated safe spots. The teens break into Langley when they find out that Kari's mother is in custody there. It seems that the Agency believes her parents are double agents working for the Russians. Kari doesn't stop until she busts her mother out of captivity and can begin looking for her father. There is a twist at the end that keeps readers engaged. Though the premise is far-fetched, the book is an easy, fun read that would be an additional purchase for libraries looking for espionage fluff.—Elizabeth Kahn, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, Jefferson, LA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442481725
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
09/03/2013
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,363,876
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.36(h) x 0.91(d)
Lexile:
HL720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Two Lies and a Spy


  • Can u pick up milk on ur way home?

    It’s not the kind of text that would make most people climb out of a bathroom window. It comes across as pretty harmless, right? But it’s not, trust me. And I’m not most people.

    I’m Kari Andrews, and I’m a junior here at the ivy-covered, lushly landscaped, Kennedy Preparatory School in Washington, DC. Yeah, I’ve definitely looked more dignified than I do right now as I dangle half out of the ladies’ room window. I’m scrambling for a handhold between the climbing ivy and the old red brick and mortar that surrounds the window so I can pull myself up and out, then drop the four and a half feet to the grass below.

    I hit the ground running.

    I’m not playing hooky—this is a Code Black emergency.

    I’m sitting in art class, spinning the sterling silver charm that I got in the mail yesterday from my parents. They travel a lot, so they send little gifts to my brother Charlie and me, just to let us know that they’re thinking about us.

    I’m trying to get excited about painting a still life in the style of an old Dutch master. Van Eyck or Holbein or Rembrandt—one of those sixteenth-century men in tights with a long droopy nose and a silly hat sporting a peacock feather.

    The still life involves a green velvet drape under a porcelain bowl of fruit. Next to the bowl sits a creepy antique doll with blond corkscrew curls. I block out some shapes on my paper with pencil and then mix the green paint for the drape, but I am unsure exactly where to start with the composition. Drapery’s tough, and I’m not much of an artist.

    I’m spinning my charm, which is Romania’s Bran Castle, on the long paint-and-clay-spattered table. Dracula’s legendary home hits an old blob of dried paste, then jumps and skitters right into my little lake of green. Go figure—I should have taken the time to attach it to my bracelet with the others.

    My best friend Larita, who has the same art period, sees, snorts, and tries not to laugh. I just fish the charm out of the puddle of green and clean it off with a paper towel, then I stick it in my pocket and go back to staring at the still life. The doll has big brown eyes and wears a disdainful expression on her sculpted plastic lips that reminds me exactly of the way Lacey Carson looks when she bothers to notice me.

    I pull out my cell phone to text Rita about the resemblance of the doll to Lacey, but I never get the chance. The “get milk” message from my dad pops up, and I know I have to clear out fast. In our family that milk message doesn’t mean what you think it means. It’s code for a true emergency.

    I get up from my stool and head for the door. Mr. Aldrich barely glances at me, he’s so laid-back. Good thing this text came right now and not during algebra, because it would’ve been a lot harder to get away from Colonel Davenport. (We call him Colon D because he’s so anal—but that’s another topic.)

    I slide out the door and into Kennedy Prep’s blue-tiled hallway. Because Kale, my other best friend, is due to pick me up for a martial arts class after school, I quickly text him not to come and not to worry if I’m out of contact for a while.

    Then I run to Rita’s locker. The first rule in case of an emergency like this one is to ditch my phone, with its handy GPS chip. Rita will know how to get in touch with me when she finds it.

    I’m happy that my hands don’t shake at all as I turn the dial left to 17, right to 43, and then left again to 26. I slide the phone under Rita’s left gym shoe, at the bottom of the locker, and swipe a handful of her Peanut M&M’s. After all, a girl needs protein when she’s on the run.

    I pop a few into my mouth, then crunch down. So my teeth are nice and brown and gooey when two pairs of feet appear on the other side of the locker door, one in highly polished Italian loafers and the other in scuffed boat shoes. I know those feet.

    I look up and meet the amused gazes of Evan Kincaid, International Jerk of Mystery, and Luke Carson, American Hottie—and twin brother of Doll-Face Lacey.

    Luke, who’s Abercrombie and Fitch all the way, is the best-looking guy in all of Kennedy Prep, and he’s got an easygoing personality that made him a shoo-in for junior class president.

    Luke’s got muscular runner’s legs to die for—not that I can see them right now under his khakis. His broad chest and buff arms hold my attention just fine, thanks. He’s blond like Lacey and tan from all the time he spends outdoors on the track team. He has the same big brown eyes as his sister, but his are warm and intelligent as opposed to vacuous and ringed by mascara.

    But it’s Luke’s smile that makes him irresistible. He gets these dimples at the corners of his mouth that should be illegal, and he has a way of making a girl feel that she’s the only person in the world who matters to him. I’m not sure how he does it—or if he’s even aware of it—but I am a slave to those dimples.

    “And what have we here? An assassin or a thief?” The question distracts me. It’s delivered in a lazy, British public school drawl, the voice deeper than it has a right to be—and at the same time silky.

    Evan Kincaid appeared out of nowhere this fall. Supposedly he’s from London, and there’s a rumor that his parents work for the British Embassy, but Rita says that’s not true. He’s taller than Luke, about six feet, and a little broader.

    Too broad, if you ask me. He probably oils up and pumps iron in a gym full of mirrors. He’s got smoky-gray eyes that sometimes go blue, like right now. His light brown hair always looks windswept but perfect, and even though we have to wear uniforms at Kennedy Prep, his shirts are tailored, not store-bought like everyone else’s. He gets a ten out of ten for style from Fashionista Rita.

    Evan may look as if he stepped out of GQ, but it’s Luke who does funny things to me. I get discombobulated around him and my knees turn to rubber. I also do dumb things—like forget I have M&M’s in my mouth as I greet him with a big smile.

    “Hi, Luke.” I clap my hand over my mouth, mortified.

    Evan guffaws. “Seen a dentist lately, love?”

    Even Luke, who’s a really nice guy, struggles to keep a straight face.

    I can’t speak for the horror of the situation. So naturally, Evan does for me.

    “She’s definitely an assassin,” he says to Luke. “Because if looks could kill, I’d be in rigor mortis by now.”

    “Nope.” Luke allows himself a smile. His eyes run slowly down my body as if by instinct, but then he averts them, instead of ogling. Not that I have much to ogle. “She’s a thief. Because this isn’t her locker—it’s Rita’s. And those are probably Rita’s M&M’s. Am I right?”

    My face has already flash fried. Now my neck does too—and the rest of me—under Luke’s gaze. I want to tell Evan that I want to kill him, all right. But slowly. Taking hours to do it. So rigor mortis? It’s a long way off.

    But I can’t say that in front of Luke. I swallow the M&M’s. Struggle for some dignity. And find my voice. “I was starving, and Rita said I could have some. What are you guys doing out of class?”

    “Doc’s appointment,” Luke says easily.

    I flick a disinterested glance toward Evan, along with a raised eyebrow.

    “Just bored.” He yawned. “Colon D’s class. No need to solve for X. It’s on the stick that’s up his—”

    “How did you get past him?” Against my will, I’m impressed.

    “Got my ways and means, love.”

    “I’m not your love.” No mystery why I feel the need to assert this in front of Luke.

    Evan flashes too-white teeth at me. “Pity, that.”

    I roll my eyes. Mature, no—but it relieves my feelings somewhat.

    “So,” Evan inquires, “ditching school yourself, are you?”

    I shoot a glance at Luke, who’s kind of a Boy Scout. “No, of course not.” I really need to get out of Dodge, but I can’t risk Evan trying to accompany me. How to handle this?

    How would my mom handle it? Chic, petite, elegant  . . . never a dark hair out of place, she can make any man squirm at a glance—and this includes my dad. I hear her voice in my head, dishing out one of her many pieces of invaluable advice. Men will rarely follow a woman into the bathroom, darling.

    “I’m not playing hooky . . . just going to the ladies’ room.”

    Luke looks at his watch, then shifts his weight from one foot to the other. “Well. I’ve got to run—don’t want to be late. See you.”

    “ ’Kay,” I squeak, still doing my best to scrape chocolate and nut particles off my teeth with my tongue.

    Evan seems to know exactly what I’m doing. And because he’s watching, I can’t even check out Luke’s truly fine rear end as he walks away. I slam Rita’s locker door and scuttle like a cockroach, not a lady, in the other direction.

    “Always delightful to see you,” Evan calls after me.

    I ignore him and refuse to let him bother me.

    Adrenaline beats in a tiny, staccato pulse under my jaw. Are my parents okay?

    Of course they’re fine. They’ve been in and out of tough situations in the past. This alarm won’t be any different—it probably just means that we’ll have to go through the hassle of revamping all our security.

    I push open the door of the girls’ bathroom and wrinkle my nose at the weird, fake cherry smell of the disinfectant in there. A quick glance in the mirror reveals that my hair is still long, dark, and kind of messy; my face is your average face with two brown eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Aunt Sophie is always hassling me to wear some makeup—but the stuff mystifies me. On the few occasions that I’ve experimented with it, I have ended up making myself look like either a clown or a hooker.

    Too bad there’s not a whole lot to do in a girls’ bathroom if you’re not big on primping. I don’t even need to pee. A speck of green paint under my thumbnail gives me an excuse to wash my hands, but that doesn’t take up much time.

    I check my watch: Two minutes have gone by. I decide to open the door a crack and see if Evan is still loitering in the hallway.

    Unfortunately, he is, for some unknown and completely annoying reason. Go away! I mouth.

    Oblivious, he continues to text something on his phone.

    I check my watch again. How to get out of here? I need to go meet my little brother Charlie, stat.

    Charlie, who is only seven, is already a fifth grader at James Madison Academy, because he’s basically a genius and has skipped three grades. I worry sometimes that he’s too smart. It would do him good to get out and play with other kids more—but he’s shy, and they tend to think that he’s a little odd. How many seven-year-olds are fluent in four languages? Can quote Nietzsche and Schopenhauer? And write computer code in Java, C++ and PHP?

    Yeah, he’s a walking brain.

    Evan shows no sign of moving anytime soon, so I start looking for a way around him—and hone in on the small, frosted-glass windows over the two sinks in the girls’ bathroom.

    One of them is sealed shut, but I manage to get the other one open. I vault up onto the sink and wriggle my head and shoulders through the tight rectangle. Sometimes being small for my age is a curse, but right now it’s a beautiful thing. And unlike Lacey, I have no long pink nails to break as I scrabble for gaps in the mortar. I get my right arm all the way out and cling to the window frame like a monkey with my left one. I find a good handhold among the bricks and shimmy out to my knees, my butt in the air and my plaid uniform skirt flapping. Anyone standing around outside would get a great visual of my blue polka-dotted panties, but no one’s there, thank God.

    The cold metal of the window casing presses against my bare thighs and makes me shiver. Immodestly I work one leg free of the window until I’m straddling it. The chilly, early October air wafts over my skin as I dangle by one leg from that freakin’ window, using my other foot to brace against the bricks outside. I stick my arm back through and grab my backpack off the sink, then drop it into a pile of leaves below me. I scrape my second knee through the frame, hang from the pediment like an orangutan for a moment, and then drop to the grass. I run from the grounds toward the road that will take me southeast to Wisconsin Avenue and the Metro stop there.

    Hang on, Charlie. I’m coming for you.

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