Series: The Codename Conspiracy
Genre: Middle-Grade, Mystery, Thriller
Publication date: February 4th 2014
by HarperCollins, Walden Pond Press
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.
-A copy was provided by Walden Pond Press for review-
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.