Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: Codename Zero by Chris Rylander

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I received this book for free from Walden Pond Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Codename Zero by Chris RylanderCodename Zero by Chris Rylander
Series: The Codename Conspiracy
Published by HarperCollins, Walden Pond Press on February 4th 2014
Genres: Middle-Grade, Mystery, Thriller
Source: Walden Pond Press
Buy on Amazon

Seventh-grader Carson Fender finds out there's more to his sleepy North Dakota hometown than meets the eye in this hilarious mash-up of middle-school story and spy adventure novel from the author of The Fourth Stall.

There are places in the world where heroes are born. There are places where brave men and women fight a never-ending battle against evil in order to keep our country and all other countries safe. There are places where the fate of our planet is being decided, even now as we speak, the consequences of which will echo through history.

None of these places are in North Dakota.

Carson Fender, seventh grader and notorious prankster, knows this. He's lived in North Dakota for his entire life, going to the same boring school every day, the same boring movie theater every week, and the same boring state fair every year. Nothing ever changes, and nothing ever happens. That is, until today. Because today a desperate man is going to hand him a package with a dire set of instructions. And that package is going to lead Carson to discover that there's a secret government agency operating in his small, quiet North Dakota hometown.

And that this agency needs his help.

There’s nothing better to cleanse the reader’s pallet than a good ol’ middle grade novel.  No cliche romance, no chance of a love triangle and just piles of fun! Codename Zero was such a fantastic read, one that I took in in a single day and one that I could have devoured much more of if given the chance.

Carson Fender is a prankster.  He lives in a small town in North Dakota and is quite frankly bored with the every day small town life.  He likes to spice things up with his pranks, take people by surprise and uproot the daily routine.  One afternoon while carrying out an epic prank involving fainting goats and super glue a sweaty man in a suit rushes up to him and hands him a package.  The only instructions this man gives Carson is to pass the package off to Mr. Jenson and not open it up under any circumstance.  Of course curiosity gets the better of Carson and he opens the package which sets off a 48-hour auto destruct feature because he was not authorized to open it.  He is then tasked with finding out which Mr. Jenson the package was meant for (there are two teaching at his school) and is ultimately sucked into working for a secret agency and protecting one boys life.

It all seems incredibly far-fetched and fantastical, I know, but suspend your mind just a tad and go along with the story and Codename Zero proves to be one fun ride.  I loved pretty much everything about this story. The pacing was break-neck, I didn’t find that it let up at all and  because of this I couldn’t put it down.  Also lending to this must-keep-reading feeling was the intricate mystery that is weaved throughout.  I can honestly say that I didn’t pin point exactly what was going on until Carson did, but once all the little threads revealed throughout were brought to light everything came together expertly.  I did manage to pinpoint the leader of the bad guys fairly easily but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the story at all.

Helping Carson along the way are his best friends, twins, Danielle and Dillon.  These three had been life-long friends and you could tell by their dialogue and the way that they understood one another.  Danielle was the more level-headed of the group, keeping the boys in check but she still had a wild side to her as well.  Dillon was quite the character! He was a conspiracy theorist and was constantly revealing new plots that he felt were taking place in town with the most wild evidence to support his claims that you could ever imagine.  Rounding out the group is the newest addition, Olek.  He’s new at school and has just come over to America from (as Carson so eloquently puts it) “some country that ends in ia.”  This guy was so funny! He was so innocently sweet and his foreign translation of well-known American sayings had me chuckling out loud on numerous occasions.  Olek was addicted to playing “Furious Ostrich” (Angry Birds) and he had an intense love for all things Jimmy Buffet.

Codename Zero was equal parts intense and funny.  I had such a fantastic time reading this one  and will definitely be picking up Rylander’s previous series The Fourth Stall.


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19 Responses to “Review: Codename Zero by Chris Rylander”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Aww this sounds like a cute book. I don’t typically read middle grade novels, but this sure does fun even if it’s a little far-fetched at times.
    I see you’re reading Three, Jenni! I hope you enjoy it! 🙂
    Lovely review.

  2. Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy

    I agree, sometimes it’s such a relief to switch gears. This sounds like a bunch of fun and I wish something like this had come out a few years ago when my kids were young enough to possibly want to read it. Thanks for the review!

  3. Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    What a fun sounding read. I am going to have to check and see it my library is going to carry this, I think my daughter would love this. It would be a great book for us to read together. 🙂 Wonderful review, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  4. fishgirl182 @ nite lite

    I didn’t know that Chris Rylander had a new book coming out. I really liked The Fourth Stall and will have to check this out. Agree that middle grade can be really fun to read in the midst of everything else.

  5. Amanda @ Book Badger

    I completely agree, it’s great when you can switch things up and have a younger book for yourself after so many dystopians and contemporaries, especially one without romance. This book sounds like a fantastic read, and you’re review was really great Jenni! 🙂

  6. Sam @ Realm of Fiction

    I don’t think I’ve heard of this one before, but it sounds like a lot of fun! I don’t mind suspending some disbelief every now and again, especially when it comes to middle grade fiction. This definitely seems like the sort of entertaining book that is worth checking out. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Jenni! 🙂

  7. Melliane

    you’re right, sometimes it’s nice to have something different, without any big drama and love triangle. It’s been a while since I read a book like that, but I should try some time to have a break. And well the covers are aways sweet! Thanks for the review.

  8. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    Aww I love those books that if you throw away all of the parts of your mind that are going “don’t believe this, and this is way too far fetched!” then you end up loving the book. The story and concept of this one sound great, and I’m glad that it could balance funny and intense at the same time. It’s definitely really hard to incorporate humor into a plot line, but I can definitely tell it’s hilarious from the nickname Olek gave to Angry Bids. Furious Ostrich, ha! Fantastic review, Jenni <33 Glad you liked this one 🙂

  9. ShootingStarsMag

    Olek sounds like a fun character. I like the mix of friends the MC has in his life; always makes a book more enjoyable. I need to read more MG books. This one sounds like loads of fun – glad you enjoyed it and it was a quick read.

  10. Siiri

    It does seem a bit far-fetched, but with MG books you really have to not mind, because it’s good for kids to get their imagination running. Ha, the girl reminds me a little of Hermione Granger solely for the reason that she keeps the boys in check, haha. While I’m not a MG lover myself, you and Lauren (Love Is Not a Triangle) have managed to make me want to try. She reviewed a cute Snow Queen MG retelling and that one along with Codename Zeroe seem like a great way to shake things up among the good ole YA and NA that I’m usually reading. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. Wendy Darling

    Oh my gosh, why have I not heard of this book? It sounds like SO much fun, and I loved mysteries so much as a kid that I know I would have eaten this right up! that cover is awesome, too.

    One of the things I like best about MG is that you seem to get more friendships in them, and it sounds like that’s true here, too. Thanks for the review, Jenni.

  12. Molly

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