Spies are becoming more and more popular in fiction. Is this because we live in an increasingly paranoid world? But if you look back spies have always been popular in fiction, it’s just the way we look at them has changed. In the 19th Century spies were generally the bad guys. Arthur Conan Doyle used foreign spies as the villains in many of his Sherlock Holmes stories, the swashbuckling “Prisoner of Zenda” (1894) was full of intrigue and spies and even in the early 20th Century the spy was not a good person and Richard Hannay spends the entire length of the 1915 novel “The Thirty-Nine Steps” tracking foreign spies across England.
And then came James Bond in “Casino Royale” in 1953 and the popular image of the spy changed. Now spies could be the hero, they could be glamorous and dangerous but be on our side. The 21st Century has brought a trend for young adult super spies. They really started to gain popularity with Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series. Also popular are the CHERUB and Henderson Boys series by Robert Muchamore, The Young Bond books by Charlie Higson and the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter.
Here are five of the best to get you started.
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
Chased by a killer, wanted by the police, Richard Hannay is on the run. He has been feeling bored with London life-until he discovers a dead man in his flat, skewered to the floor with a knife through his heart. Only a few days before, the victim had warned him of an assassination plot that could bring the country to the brink of war…
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
When his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances, 14 year old Alex Rider finds his world turned upside down. Within days he’s gone from schoolboy to superspy. Forcibly recruited into MI6, Alex has to take part in gruelling SAS training exercises: then, armed with his own special set of secret gadgets, he’s off on his first mission…
The Recruit by Robert Muchamore
A terrorist doesn’t let strangers into her flat because they might be undercover police or intelligence agents, but her children bring their mates home and they run all over the place. The terrorist doesn’t know that one of these kids has bugged every room in her house, made copies of all her computer files and stolen her address books. The kid works for CHERUB.
Silverfin by Charlie Higson
There’s something in the water at loch Silverfin. Something deadly. Something that must be kept secret. It’s James Bond’s first day at Eton, and already he’s met his first enemy. This is the start of an adventure that will take him from the school playing fields to the remote shores of Loch Silverfin and a terrifying discovery that threatens to unleash a new breed of warfare.
I’d Tell You I love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You Young by Ally Carter
Do you ever feel like you’re invisible? I know I do, just call me Cammie the Chameleon. But at my school, that’s seen as cool. Why? Because the Gallagher Academy might say its for geniuses but it’s really a school for spies. Cammie Morgan might be capable of killing a man in seven different ways, but she’s about to begin her most dangerous mission yet: falling in love.