Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

Orphan Monster Spy

Matt Killeen

"I wish I'd written [Orphan Monster Spy] myself. Deeply disturbing and chillingly good." -- Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity

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Her name is Sarah. She's blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish in 1939 Germany. And her act of resistance is about to change the world.

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He's part of the secret resistance against the Third Reich, and he needs Sarah to hide in plain sight at a school for the daughters of top Nazi brass, posing as one of them. If she can befriend the daughter of a key scientist and get invited to her house, she might be able to steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. Nothing could prepare Sarah for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she'd ever imagined. But anyone who underestimates this innocent-seeming girl does so at their peril. She may look sweet, but she's the Nazis' worst nightmare.

Advance Galley Reviews

I was completely immersed in this story of a 15 year old Jewish girl who agrees to become a spy in the battle to defeat Hitler. I may be suffering burn out from reading too many books set in this time period, but this was a new World War II plot for me. The book begins with the murder of Sarah's mother at a checkpoint. Orphaned, terrified and with no identity papers, Sarah starts to run. She encounters a man with an unidentifiable accent and the two manage to rescue each other. She comes to know him as the British spy Captain Floyd, but he is also known as Herr Haller. It's as Haller that he enrolls his "niece" Ursula (Sarah) in a boarding school for elite Nazi girls, once he discovers that Sarah is smart, resourceful and observant - perfect spy material. As a blue eyed blond, Sarah looks the part of a Nazi youth and she looks younger than her age. She also has the benefit of years of acting lessons from her mother, as well as gymnastics training so she is able to play the role of a little Nazi monster in the school. Her mission is to befriend the daughter of a Nazi scientist who is reputed to be working on a powerful weapon. The school has its perils, including idiot administrators, sadistic teachers, a disgraced Nazi overseer and the other students. Adolescent girls can be nasty bullies everywhere, but Nazi girls add a bit extra to their torment of the younger and weaker girls. There were a few German words and phrases that I wished were translated in this book, but other than that I liked the book a lot. The Captain was appropriately enigmatic and businesslike and Sarah did what she had to do to keep both of them alive and to complete her mission. The last quarter of the book was very suspenseful. Despite the fact that the protagonist was only 15, I wouldn't characterize this book as young adult. Nothing was simplified or sentimentalized. I would read more books by this author. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

What I read of Orphan Monster Spy was intriguing, engaging, and well paced. Unfortunately for me, Digital Editions has refused to let me open it (or any other books) since Sunday, so I haven't been able to finish this novel, and First to Read has not answered my email request for assistance. I'm disappointed I won't be able to finish this book as planned and disappointed no one has written me back, but I am looking forward to perhaps one day finishing Orphan Monster Spy. Matt Kline's writing is good and the premise is sure to be one many fans of historical fiction will enjoy.

I received an ARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. I will say that Historical Fiction isn't my normal genre but the premise of this book sounded interesting so I requested a copy. I was not disappointed! This book had my attention from the first chapter. It was dark and chilling with twists and turns that kept me wanting more.

overall, super well written! it's definitely action-packed, and you're thrown into the action right from the get go. plus, i love WWII stories.

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. The plot was very compelling and I liked the characters, but I found the writing style hard to get used to. I tried to look past it, but I think that the writing style hindered my overall enjoyment of the story.

Now? How ’bout now? This book took forever to go ANYWHERE. There was so much build up and backstory thrown in that they actual story didn’t feel like it picked up until about half way through the book. After that, the pace rushed. It was like there were weeks and weeks and then just a handful of days for the main climax. It was really quite frustrating as I don’t believe the extensive first half of the story was necessary to understand the rest of it. Interesting Concept That being said, when the story actually did finally reach the main plot and the pacing picked up a bit, it was interesting to read about. I really liked the direction the story took and the way it all played out. It might have been a bit unrealistic and way darker than I had thought it was going to be, but it was fun to read about. Flashbacks/Dreams Ugh… I don’t know why these were in here. Yeah, maybe they were trying to offer some backstory into the main character’s personality (which wasn’t really there, in my opinion), but these just felt so unnecessary. I think their purpose was to make you feel more for Sarah than you may have already, to sympathize with her, but I kind of just got bored with them. They didn’t feel necessary for the story. German Words Okay. Another thing I have to complain about was the use of German words within the story. Obviously, that would be expected since the characters are German, in Germany, but the German words were immediately followed by their English translations completely defeating the purpose of the German to begin with! Not only that, but some of the words weren’t translated. You know which those were? Swear words and inappropriate words, most often derogatory towards young females. I found this style to be very annoying and degrading and it became extremely annoying very quickly. Also, many of the German words were simply unnecessary. It got to a point that it felt like the author was simply flaunting their knowledge of the German language rather than needing it for the story. Talking in Riddles I don’t know if it was just my lack of knowledge of history, but it felt like the main characters, Sarah and Her Haller, were constantly talking in riddles. I couldn’t make any sense of what they were saying and they never really finished their sentences. It was like the two understood each other so well that even the reader could not discern what they were talking about. It made it very difficult to understand what was going on and to be interested in the story.

I requested Orphan Monster Spy from Penguin's First to Read program on a whim. It looked interesting, and I'm always in the market for a new historical fiction read. Unfortunately, Orphan Monster Spy wasn't the book for me. It's the classic case of a fantastic premise but an execution that falls short. Orphan Monster Spy introduces Sarah, a young adult in 1939 Germany who becomes a spy for the resistance. I'll admit that Sarah is an interesting main character. She's fearless, resourceful and cunning. The lengths by which she goes to survive are admirable, and I liked that she always had a trick up her sleeve no matter the situation. Honestly, she's the type of character I typically like and maybe even love, but that didn't occur here. Basically it's hard to connect with Sarah. It was difficult to get a feel for her personality and more importantly her feelings. Her narrative was incredibly cut and dry, lacking heart as well as emotion, and while in some ways I understood the reasoning behind it, I feel the narrative would've benefited for more feelings, more passion. There were so many times at which I expected a larger response from Sarah - so many times I expected here to scream and yell and just feel - but that never truly happened. Most of the time I found the secondary characters to be more interesting and likable. Mouse, Sarah's boarding school friend, was a favorite of mine, and I felt that she managed to save this novel in some respects. Like Sarah, she's dealing with her own heartbreak, her own disaster, but I felt that her feelings were better displayed. Given the title as well as the synopsis I was expecting a chilling spy thriller; however, that wasn't exactly what I received. There were some interesting parts, some wonderful twists and turns, but it took a long time to get to them, and sometimes that made it hard to get through certain parts of this book. I craved more action and excitement, and I wish Matt had cut to the chase sooner than later. The last part of the book was by far the most exciting, but by the time I got there I was just ready to be done, which somewhat dulled my enjoyment. Overall, Orphan Monster Spy didn't live up to my expectations. As I said before, it does contain an excellent premise, but a premise can only carry a book so far. Will I read other books by Matt? Maybe. I did see potential here, and I'll be curious to see if he writes a sequel to this. In some ways I feel Orphan Monster Spy is the beginning to a larger story.

Orphan Monster Spy is an interesting story for a WWII book. At times, I found a teenage spy to be an unbelievable, but I did enjoy Sarah’s story. It was fascinating to see a National Socialist boarding school. I was most interested in the Germany development of the atomic bomb, since I just recently read The Atomic City Girls which showed the US development. I also enjoyed Sarah’s friendship with Ruth Mauser. I loved how Sarah often stuck up for the Mouse, despite it setting back her mission and making their lives more difficult. I would recommend this book and would be interested in an potential sequels.

As a person who rarely reads spy, crime or mystery novels, this was a great choice. Matt Killeen created a world that was intense and eye opening about the time in history no one can ever forget, WWII. He put in time to display alot of history that happened throughout the book. Although you'll find certain parts a tad bit slow, it's was overall a fast read. Sarah was a strong, sharp and refreshing female protagonist. Honestly, she was the best part of this novel. She molded herself to get her job done and proved many times that she should not be underestimated. Her struggle to figure things out and not get caught will have you rooting for her! There are several characters that you would never forget as well. It became very hard to keep reading and finding out how much crazier the world around war truly can be As I made my way toward the end of the novel . It was sometimes difficult to read through some scenes, but it paid off. I think the book may Have a sequel as we're left with some questions that I need the author to answer!  I'd recommend this book to the older teens (>16) even though it's YA. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review .

Matt Killeen captures the complexity of thought, political dogma, and raw emotion of a range of characters from drastically different backgrounds. He takes you on the journey of an oddly gifted Jewish girl; not in hiding, but out in the open posing as an Aryan. Sarah (Ursula to the Nazis), uses her survival skills, terrible life experiences, and chutzpah to unravel a Nazi scheme under the guise of a German school girl. We watch as Sarah overcomes stereotypical high school bullying, to wresting herself from the sadism of the Nazi party, and working to save the fate of the free world itself. Killeen is phenomenal at creating dialogue. Each character speaks as it should. There are no holes in this book, only intrigue, plot twists, and genuine thought. I am so happy to give my first five star review of 2018. I can't wait to read what else this author has in store!

This book was dark and thrilling and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. It reminded of Code Name Verity and The Book Thief.

This book was incredibly well written. It walks the line between murder mystery and World War Two era thriller at times. Sarah is a incredibly talented girl who finds herself in a untenable situation which lead her to a life of deception. As with any book written about this time period, it is chilling and horrifying, but captivating. Killeen does an incredible job explaining without explaining the tensions and differences between eras in Hitler's Germany. This story is taking place towards the beginning of the war and before the US involvement, and does a wonderful job of explaining the propaganda that allowed this series of events.

I received this book from Penguin in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the perspective and spunk of the protagonist. I don’t know how realistic the idea of a young Jewish girl being a spy in WWII is, but I certainly liked watching her outsmart the Nazis. I felt like it was left open so that a sequel could be written. I would absolutely go on another adventure.

This exciting, creepy book tells the story of a half-Aryan Jewish girl infiltrating a school for the elite daughters of Nazi officials. Sarah's meeting with her "handler" and their ongoing relationship are very well-written, with their attempts at being cool and professional in the midst of the horrors around them. The flashbacks to her life with her mother shows how perfectly groomed she was for this role and why she has any hope of success. The scenes in the school itself show the perfect storm collision of power hunger and social pressures, magnified by the chaos of incompetent leaders by fiat. The descriptions of the science and its aftermath are just as compelling as the tension as Sarah is repeatedly put in difficult situations ranging from uncomfortably creepy to horrific -- and her guiding voice of her mother's spirit/conscience helps get her through.

This book was great!! It had such a unique storyline! It was dark, and disturbingly amazing! I couldn’t put it down.

After her mother is shot and killed at a checkpoint trying to flee Nazi controlled Germany, Sarah finds herself on the run with no papers and no way to escape. Sarah's situation is temporarily solved when she has a chance encounter with a mysterious man with a plan to stop the Third Reich. He offers her job infiltrating a National Socialist school in hopes of getting close to the daughter of a scientist who is suspected to be creating a deadly bomb. Sarah, posing as Ursula Haller, must use her survival skills to become what she despises most...a monster. Orphan Monster Spy was a fantastic action packed novel and definitely one of my top reads for 2018. I typically shy away from this genre of novel but the synopsis sounded too good not to read and I'm so happy I did. This novel takes place in 1939 Germany during the Nazi regime. Sarah is a strong female protagonist with a mixed Jewish-German parentage which results an untraditional upbringing. Her unique skillset help her to infiltrate one of the top National Socialist schools in hopes of finding a new type of bomb before it's too late. This one will have you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

I read this book within a week which is quick for me. It has a fast-passed beginning and keeps up the momentum throughout. The characters are dynamic and I found myself cheering for 15-year-old Sarah as if she were part of my family or friends. It's a good read for anyone who enjoys YA fiction, especially reading centered on WWII. Orphan Monster Spy is a great book to pick up after reading The Book Thief or the like.

I enjoyed this book and devoured it. The story starts strong and fast paced with Sarah a blue eyed blonde Jewish girl fleeing from a checkpoint where her mother was killed. She meets Captain Floyd, a spy who trains her to infiltrate a prestigious girls boarding school as an Aryan. where her mission is to ingratiate herself to a German scientist's daughter and secure an invite home. Their plans are to then search and procure secret documents the scientist is working on. The actual school is a brutal and violent environment where the teachers are sadistic and the girls clique is malicious. Sarah manipulates her skills learned from her actress mother and maneuvers through all the horrors she encounters and fights becoming a monster herself. A little slow in the middle but the climax was exciting and thrilling. Definitely recommend, and wishing for Sarah's continued exploits.

This book about WWII has a fierce main character who wants to do what she can to defeat the Germans. After her Mom is killed at a check point as they try to escape from Germany, she is rescued by a spy and after observing her, he asks for her help. Sarah is a blonde, blue eyed Jewish girl of 15. She was raised by her mom, an actress, who taught her how to take on different personas including accents. She's asked to enroll into an exclusive girl's school in Berlin to try to get information on another girl's family. Talk about a mean bunch of girls - this group is vile! As she tries to keep her secrets about her past she attempts to ingratiate herself with the meanest girls in the school to fulfill her mission. This was a well written novel with lots of research to back it up. Though it's listed as YA, there were some scenes that I think would be difficult for a very young reader. For anyone who enjoys a good book with a strong female main character, this is the book to read. Thanks to First to Read for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

I love historical fiction and books set during WWII so when I read the synopsis for Orphan Monster Spy, it sounded exactly like the kind of book I would want to read. The plot was well done and intriguing, and I was interested in the characters - especially Sarah - but I feel like a lot of things were just glossed over in the story. Parts of Sarah's history were briefly mentioned and then never brought up again, which left me with a lot of questions by the end of the book. For a majority of the story, we follow Sarah as she attempts espionage by attending a Nazi boarding school for girls. There isn't a whole lot going on during these parts, other than the horrifying conflicts and struggles Sarah has with the teachers and fellow students. The action picks up towards the end of the book, and that's when things really become chilling and intense. The events in the last portion of the story are disturbing, and yet I didn't want to stop reading. The story starts out fast-paced, slows down for a good chunk of the book, and then picks back up again. Matt Killeen clearly put a lot of research and effort into writing a historical fiction novel full of details and accuracies. Orphan Monster Spy is an engaging story, but I think the book moved almost a little too fast at times and left a lot of loose ends and questions after the ending for me to be fully captivated by it.

I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review via First to Read. Wow. The challenges and struggles depicted in this novel that were faced by a 12 year old girl are tremendous! I found this hard to put down an very intriguing! Highly recommend it!

This was such an exhilarating read and a book that really is so different from anything else in the YA genre right now; I read this in its entirety during one day, I absolutely couldn't put it down. Set at the dawn of World War 2, Sarah has just witnessed her mother's murder, after fleeing their home because of Jewish round-ups, and somehow lands in the care of a British spy, Captain Floyd. He takes her under his wing, who realizes that her long blond hair, pale skin, and blue eyes, make her look less like the Jew that she is, and more like the Aryan Elite that makes her a perfect infiltrate at the Rothenstadt boarding school, an academy for Nazi general's daughters. Now under a new identity as Ursula Haller, Sarah is suddenly on a mission to gather secrets from within, and she is thrown among the wolves where some of the nastiest discipline happens in the name of the Fuhrer. Every day, it feels like there's a danger of her identity being discovered, and even her recurrent nightmares threaten to give her away; throughout the book she has them, and she also continuously 'speaks' to her 'Mutti' for strength, although she has passed away. You constantly get the feeling it's very difficult knowing how hard it is to get through each day without a person to confide in, with no one to trust. The entire book is built around the character Sarah/Ursula, and author Matt Killeen depicts a young teen who has to be very strong, makes hard decisions, has to be very brave, and at times, wishes she could just break down, and in many ways, is still so so immature. I would imagine this to be the way it was for many children forced to grow up in war time (regardless of circumstance). While I don't know how many readers will go into this with extreme detail of World War 2 (being from Britain, having a WW2-obsessed dad I know plenty, believe me), I had SO much anxiety for Sarah throughout the book. I couldn't trust a single, sodding character! I fully realize that this is YA, and Killeen wasn't about to turn this any scarier, but it did get me wondering how much worse things could have turned... There's a lot more war left, after the point the book ended too! More adventures for this spy? I'm going to say immediately that it will be definitely be in contention for a top ten spot for me this year. Any book that sucks me back into a time period where you think about how your very existence could be always in questionable danger, makes such a mark on me, and I hope others reading really felt that too. It made such a change to read a novel about this era for this age group. Put it on your TBR, everyone!!!


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