Not Undercover: Superb Spy Fiction

Image courtesy of Activision’s Goldeneye Reloaded.
You might have heard that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the ever-expanding series of James Bond movies. The unflappable James Bond was originally created by author Ian Fleming as the main character in his espionage novels, but he’s since been featured in movies, radio, comic strips, and video games. And of course everyone knows his code name and how he likes his martini. I don’t go in much for action-packed books or movies. I gravitate toward realistic, character-driven drama or comedies. But who doesn’t love a good spy story every once in a while? Secret agents use a combination of razor-sharp intellect and hardcore combat skills to obtain dangerous information that will ultimately take down the bad guys! It’s kind of a rush because, similarly to superheroes, spies tend to be able to master whatever their job throws at them. Bonus: when we’re reading about them, we get to go along for the ride, without all that pesky risk!

Some great spy series have been out for a while, and good new ones have been debuting recently as well. Here are a few fun titles broken down by category!

Young Bonds Get Recruited

stormbreakerStormbreaker (Alex Rider Series) by Anthony Horowitz
I consider this series about Alex Rider a new classic of the genre. Alex is basically a mini-Bond, even though he never planned on becoming a high-level British spy. He took to it quite well I’d say!

recruit_muchamoreThe Recruit (CHERUB series) by Robert Muchamore
Boy, those Brits sure know how to get their espionage on! Here, children are recruited for a secret branch of the British Secret Service — they’re useful because no one suspects such innocent faces.

silverfinSilverFin by Charles Higson
James Bond backstory! To get that good, he had to start young.

Girls Go to Spy School

etiquiette espionageEtiquette & Espionage (Finishing School series) by Gail Carriger
How to do female spies defend themselves in 1851? Sewing scissors of course!

i'd tell you i love you butI’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You (The Gallagher Girls series) by Ally Carter
Cammie is a student at an elite private school — except that it’s a school for spies. Oh Cammie, you’re so funny and fun. Let’s hang out and you can teach me how to think like a spy.

Born to Spy

also known asAlso Known As (AKA) by Robin Benway
Don’t you hate when falling in love gets in the way of getting the job done?

i.q.I.Q. by Roland Smith
Q’s mom is a former-spy-turned-rocker. You know he’s got the skills!

And it seems like A LOT of the most popular spy books are being turned into graphic novels, including  Silverfin, CHERUB, Alex Rider …  What do you all think about this phenomenon? Let me know in the comments!

— Amy Pelman, currently reading Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt