Maz Evans' latest book is the first in a series starring wannabe spy Valentine - aka Vi - Day who is determined to follow in the footsteps of her mum, her nan and those before them and become a part of the spying elite.
Valentine Day descends from a long line of spies but her mum, Easter, has given that life up to raise her daughter safely and out of the reach of the secretive spy world. When Vi’s supposedly dead dad, Robert, turns up and gatecrashes Easter’s wedding to Vi’s teacher Mr. Sprout, Vi learns that not only is she half super-spy but also half super-villain.
Robert claims to have stopped his villainous ways but when a dastardly plot is uncovered, it is up to Vi to save her family, stop an evil overlord, earn a place at spy school and hopefully save the world…
This is far from your average spy story and in true Maz Evans style she combines a brilliant wild-ride of a story whilst tackling big and important issues. It is an utterly madcap adventure that mixes the everyday experiences of life as an eleven year-old with the goings-on of the secret world of spies; an incident from Vi’s parent’s past brings the spy world and Vi’s fairly normal life together.
Whilst Vi might not be a proper spy just yet, it doesn’t take her long to start leading a very lively and entertaining double life. When she isn’t at school, doing homework or perfecting the art of putpocketing she can be found eating ice-cream at a café ran by an owner who has to fend off assassins in-between serving gelato and coffee, visiting an OAP’s home full of retired secret agents known as the Silver Service - possibly my absolute favourite, and being welcomed into EVIL (Ex-Villain Improvement League support group) who comprise a rather eclectic bunch of characters including the two-headed Dr. Doppelganger, Dimitiri the vampire, French clown Auguste and Siren (a femme-fatale with a body odour problem that doubles up as a rather stinky superpower).
Vi is such a relatable character, aside from her spying mum and super-villain dad. Just like many eleven-year-olds, she wants her over-protective mum to give her a bit of freedom, is desperate for a phone and would not mind if she became a member of the notoriously difficult to join ‘cool’ group of kids at school. The supporting cast of characters would give the Avengers a good run for their money. The eclectic mix of spies - both past and present, supervillains and ex-supervillains wanting to turn over a new leaf are all brilliant.
Central to the story are the issues that Vi and Russell are dealing with. Real ones that many children experience, Evans handles divorce, the impact it has on children and bullying with a wonderful lightness of touch. Expertly weaving heart-felt and tender moments with bags of humour and spying action, she has you wanting to hug the characters one minute and then laugh out loud with them the next. Being the utter genius that she is, Evans also includes important messages on friendship, loyalty, family and love.
Bags of humour, action-packed scenes and full of heart, Vi Spy is super cool, super fun and I absolutely loved it!
Recommended for 8+.