Sword of Damocles is a young adult spy novel, and in being so, a rather unique and eye-catching story. Two twin teenagers (a brother, Cade, and sister, Brooke) witness the kidnapping of their mother after, unbeknownst to them, a fancy new device is stolen from the President of the United States. They soon find out that their dad is incommunicado and suspect it has to do with the J-phone (the device stolen from the POTUS) their father has been working on. The twins smoothly escape being kidnapped themselves and proceed to show the readers how much work their mother and father took home. The kids illustrate their knowledge of tracking and tailing, safe houses, spy gadgets, how to drive a car (like James Bond, mind you), negotiating, and hand-to-hand combat. The kids spend most of the novel on the run and work towards acquiring evidence to prove their parents’ innocence. Cade enlists the help of his best friend, Evan, who apparently is an MI6 protégé and has equally handy gadgets and hideouts. The story has many exciting chase scenes and is full of edge of your seat suspense.
The book jacket indicates it is a Cade detective novel, and therefore one would think it would be written from his point of view; however, there are some moments when we switch to Brooke’s point of view. These moments are rare, but if the book isn’t going to be told from both perspectives equally, why bother? It was confusing and made me double check who’s perspective I was reading after a section break or a new chapter.
The author made it a point to show the reader that Cade really admired his sister. Brooke is established as the family member that wants to “go into the family business” and thus, one assumes she is the better spy of the two siblings. Knowing this, Cade still played the hero many times and stepped in when Brooke was completely capable of handling a situation (as her character development showed us), or deliberately took the more dangerous task out of protecting his sister. I was frustrated that the author created two incredibly strong female characters (Brooke and the twin’s mom) and instead of using them, fell back on chivalrous methods of moving the plot forward.
The two things that distracted me the most while reading this novel were the product placement and the outlandish, Hollywood style antics. Any time the kids saw a car or used some super cool item the author used a specific name for it. For instance, at one point, Cade reaches into his backpack for his “Gerber Prodigy survival knife.” This type of description happened so frequently that one would think the author was getting paid to drop product names. As for the Hollywood antics, just like when watching a modern action film, the reader really has to remove logic from their brain while reading this novel. The kids’ parents are spies, who not only talk about their job to their children, but also have them help on secret governmental projects. The two find themselves successfully maneuvering a high speed car chase, and working with the NSA help desk. Their friend, Evan, has an MI6 science fair project that conveniently aids them in finding out who their parents’ kidnappers are, and knows of a secret bunkhouse used during the Cold War. These three kids are so savvy that high school seems like a waste of time.
Though I had to set aside a lot of reality to read this novel, it was a well-crafted action story and a fun read. As many times as I rolled my eyes while reading, I did find myself unable to put it down. If you have seen the movie Spy Kids or enjoy the James Bond franchise, then you will enjoy this story. 4 stars.