The Plundered Parent Protocol is a secret agent story for tweens, particularly girls. It’s full of kid power (including extra helpings of girl power) and it really wants to be made into a movie along the lines of Spy Kids—the action is fast paced and you can picture the killer robots made by the eight year old mad scientist.
The idea is that grownups are too stuffy to see the real threats to our world—they lack the imagination. Therefore, a bunch of teen agents have to save the world over and over from threats that most of the world simply won’t acknowledge.
In this book (I’m pretty sure it’s the first in an upcoming series), the fathers of our heroines—Elly Mourning, Hea Noone, and Saturday Knight—are all kidnapped by robots at the girls’ 13th birthday party. The three girls, in addition to being best friends, also share a birthday. The adults come up with a story that the fathers all died in some freak accident, because an army of robots is too much to believe, but the girls know better. They’re recruited by TEEN (the Teenage Extranormal Emergency Network) to rescue their dads and hopefully join this spy organization made up only of kids.
SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid
Like many books aimed at kids, most of the adults in this book are useless. They don’t believe the girls to the point of making up stories to fool themselves. The dads are more open-minded (after all, they know they were in fact kidnapped by an army of robots controlled by a megalomaniacal 8 year old), but they’re also extraordinary adults—they’re each the top of their respective fields. I almost felt sorry for the moms in these families who seem utterly dull in comparison!
Like Father, Like Daughter
Like I said, each dad is amazing in some way. Each girl is following in his footsteps and likely to surpass him. That said, they still have a lot to learn from their dads. For instance, Saturday needs to learn to expand her ideas to encompass things that seem impossible, and her father tries to teach her this.
Each girl is of a different race and they each have particular skills that don’t overlap much. Saturday is the bookish scientist who always wins the science fair. Elly is the actress with the photographic memory who always gets the lead role. Hea is a phenom in gymnastics who wins all her meets and who studies Korean martial arts with her great-grandmother. In fact, she’s quite deadly in combat, although you’d never expect it from her ditzy and perky personality.
The mad scientist has hired an older (you know, maybe 14) superspy to help him out. The spy is handsome and mysterious, with the name of Nathaniel Love. You can guess the role he plays! He never does manage to make the girls jealous of each other for long, though. He gets them to lie to each other, but in the end friendship trumps all. The girls all get pretty stupid about him, though, falling into his traps and nearly turning on each other. He’s not exactly evil, but he’s amoral at best—this doesn’t make it any less stupid that Saturday falls hard for him.
It’s a fun book, especially for kids who will appreciate the punny humor in many of the names. There’s not much to be worried about, despite some jealous girl tropes and some pretty huge coincidences that you just have to accept as part of the genre of Superspy Kids. Technically the world is in danger, but there’s never any doubt about the outcome so there isn’t a lot of tension. It’s a light, fun story about girls who are well above average. Precocious readers of 8 or 9 would probably enjoy it, and it’s a good summer read for older kids.
Disclaimer: The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Plundered Parent Protocol by Joshua Unruh
Published in 2012 by Consortium Books
First in an upcoming series
Read personal copy supplied by the author