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 found this to be a really compelling page turner with some good characters and a narrative pace that was relentless. It tells the story of Sarah, a young, blonde haired Jewish girl who finds herself embroiled in a spy plot to aid the allies. It was obvious that Killeen had meticulously researched his topic and the depth of his knowledge lent a real verisimilitude to situations that could seem fantastical. I wasn't expecting so much of the plot to focus around a school for young German girls designed to produce good national socialists, but the machinations at play amongst the students were fascinating and truly horrific in parts. Killeen certainly doesn't candy coat anything and some aspects of the narrative were quite hard to read. Nevertheless, this is an impressive debut and I will certainly look out for further missions for Sarah and the Captain. I received a free copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I need to start this review by saying, this book literally blew my mind! It was such a well written book with such a deep plot. It was moving and intense and just everything and more than I could have asked for. There were so many times I needed to pause while reading because it was just so intense, but I didn’t want to because I needed to see where this whole storyline was going. I was disturbed by a lot of what happened, but it’s one of those things that just needs to be told, in my opinion. Sarah, wow, I don’t even know where to start with her. She was brilliant, and strong, and just an amazing character. The way she handles herself in the boarding school was immensely respectful. All of the side plots this girl was put through and she never gave up she just kept pushing through it all. To be honest I’m not usually this biggest fan of historical fiction, but for some reason this book just pulled me in. It was a very fast paced read, and kept me thoroughly immersed in the story the whole time. I will absolutely be reading this one again, no doubt about it.

Great book for all ages!

Orphan Monster Spy is the rapid progression evident in the life of 15-year-old Sarah, blue-eyed and blonde, surname unknown, whose mother is shot dead by Nazi soldiers at a checkpoint, just as they are about to flee. Life is about to get very dangerous for Sarah. It is not a propitious time to be an orphan and the worst time to be a Jew. The story makes the war come alive, the horror of it, the meaningless deaths, of people caught unawares by events larger than they should have been. We hear of Kristallnacht, the terrible night when Jews were attacked in their homes and establishments, the violence becoming mainstream for the first time. We suffer many heart-in-the-mouth moments on behalf of Sarah and there are so many of these moments. No child should have to suffer fear the way Sarah does, and yet Sarah is only a fictional representation of the countless kids that did. I liked the character of Sarah, her resourcefulness. I adored her naivete and childlikeness and admired her precociousness and maturity. How she acts like a little girl, yet is capable of thinking on her feet when the need arises. I found it interesting that she looks at people’s bookshelves to see what kind of people they are. There are many facets to Sarah. She quotes from the Arthashastra, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” She is a gymnast who practiced at home when Jews were forbidden to compete. Who saw Jesse Owens live and experienced vicariously the thrill of beating the “superior race.” She is a good person, who is forced into the character of a Monster, while at the school. But she is still a child, even if she is forced into adulthood. Sarah grows on us. We get recollections of her early childhood when she was starving, her mother too ill to work. It’s hard to tell whether this part of the narrative is a memory or a nightmare. Perhaps it is both. Orphan Monster Spy is a piece of art that helps us understand better the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime. An extremely well written book that I savoured to the end. I was sorry to say goodbye to Sarah and Captain Floyd. I sure hope there’s a Book 2. Read the full & detailed review at https://cynthology.blogspot.com/2018/05/book-review-orphan-monster-spy.html

A great book! I highly recommend it to teens and adults! A fascinating exploration into World War II that highlights a Jewish girl fighting against Nazi rule! If you haven't picked up this book, you absolutely must read it now! You won't be disappointed.

This book was entrancing. This was not a WWII story that I had seen. The glimpse into the life of students in the party school was fantastic and so unique. I loved all the details that the author put in of other instances of Nazi violence that are not as widely publicized as the brutality of the camps. I loved the book, I truly hope that there can be a second. I think Sarah has plenty of ,ore opportunities to fight the good fight. Looking forward to seeing the future of this author.

For some reason it kept messing up on my Kindle. I really want to read it but i guess I'll have to get it from my library.

An engaging, and sometimes brutal story. I could not put it down, the author manages to capture your interest right from the start, with a car crash, death and a chase. At times it's hard to read, as the brutality of the pre-war terrors against Jews in Nazi Germany are bluntly described. Well researched, beautifully written and well developed characters. Trust me there is a lot to this book, but Matt Killeen, weaves it all together to make a, on the edge of your seat, what happens next story, with a satisfactory ending, action packed and thought provoking read. Sarah, 15 year old, blond haired blue eye daughter of a Jewish actress and a German christian. With her father gone and the hatred against the Jewish community growing, Sarah and her mother have fled to Austria, only to met the same terrors there. Crossing back into Germany trying to get to Switzerland. Her mother is shot, Sarah escapes and that is where she meets Captain Floyd, he rescues her and in turn she rescues him. Sarah ends up working for him as a spy and goes to a boarding school where she is to try and befriend the daughter of a scientist (those girls gave new meaning to the term "mean girls") she succeeds in her mission, in fact goes a bit farther by stealing documents about a "bomb" that this scientist is working on. I read a lot of Historical fiction, and I have never before come across, a plot for a WWII story, such as this. Part historical fiction, and part thriller. It did get a little slow in places, but I feel like it was necessary, because without that bit of information in the slow parts the rest of the story doesn't make sense. The author manages to evoke great emotion, all while bringing forth an action packed thriller. This one is going on my favorites for the year list. *I received a copy from the first to read program, for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I really liked this book! Sarah overcomes and adapts to tough situations and finds herself disguised as a German girl in a Nazi girls school! A jewish spy in a Nazi school and she still stands up for herself. This girl is fearless.

This was an interesting story. It was a bit slow at times, but overall, a good read.

A great start, very stimulating. And Sarah is an extremely interesting character, full of personality traits and abilities that may be overlooked, since she's a young girl that looks even younger than her age. However, I think the plot was a bit lost along the story, and the end left me unsettled, like there was something missing I think. However, it's still a great book, with truly amazing character building and enough historical facts to interest most history and fiction lovers.

Brutal at times but fiercely engaging until the end. Definitely fascinating point of view. May not be appropriate for younger pre-teens but insightful for older teens. Sarah Ocala, FL

Interesting story set in pre-WWII Germany however I liked the idea of the tale better than the execution of it. I understand the characters are actually supposed to be speaking in German, but the German words peppered into the narrative didn't always have context to help the translation. Made me feel like I needed a German/English dictionary open at all times so I wasn't missing something crucial. The main character called herself a "dumme schlampe" (dumb bitch) constantly, which I actively disliked coming out of a 15 year old's mouth. The spy and intrigue parts were great, wanted more of that. The interaction between Sarah and the Captain were also great, but again too little of this. The story dragged once Sarah went to the school. Pacing and flow were inconsistent. There was nasty little bits throughout, largely pertaining to Jewish persecution, but the late story revelations were particularly disgusting. I enjoyed it for the historical portrayal of a truly disturbing time in history, but felt the narrative was flawed.

Sarah, a fifteen year old Jew in 1939 Germany, has just watched her mother die. Shot to death at a checkpoint. Now, Sarah is alone in a country that views her as a genetic weakness that must be eradicated to strengthen the state. Fortunately, Sarah crosses paths with a mysterious man who sees in her an innate ability to be a successful spy. Sarah is sent to a boarding school for daughters of Nazi officers to infiltrate the home of a Nazi scientist who is close to developing a nuclear bomb for the Third Reich. Subjected to physical and mental abuse at the hands of students and teachers, Sarah must find a way to befriend the scientist's daughter, infiltrate her home and her father's lab, and prevent the most horrific weapon ever conceived to end up in the hands of a mad man. Told with brutal clarity and unflinching honesty, ORPHAN MONSTER SPY sucks the reader into Sarah's world and doesn't let go. I found Matt Killeen's writing to be compulsively readable. The story moves at a lightening pace and is very believable. Full of suspense, by the end of the novel I was almost biting my fingernails and holding my breath with worry for Sarah. The topics discussed in the novel are often times difficult to read about, but Killeen is able to present the horrors of the Third Reich in a way that is very approachable for both children and adults. Sarah’s vulnerability, strength, and intelligence make her character very likeable and the reader empathizes with her from the novel’s opening pages. Written for a teenage audience, the book is very educational and the author explains in his afterward the heroics that real life teenagers were able to accomplish in their resistance of the axis powers in World War II. I hope that this isn’t the last time we hear from Sarah. I think she has much more to say, and I can’t wait to read it. ORPHAN MONSTER SPY is a very solid 4.5/5.0 stars for me and I highly recommend it for teenagers and adults. Thank you to Penguin and Viking for providing me with an advance e-book of this title in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.

Amazing book! I debated reading another WWII set book, but the premise sounded good. It was definitely engaging and interesting. I wonder if this will be a series....

I loved what Matt Killeen did with his story, taking an orphaned young Jewish girl and with the assistance of a British spy, infiltrating a school for the elite daughters of the Nazi party. Seeing the youth who were not only followers of the party, but took it to extreme members even amongst themselves. I loved watching Sarah infiltrate this world and seeing all that she did to be accepted by the Ice Queen and her cronies while trying to hold on to her own humanity. Sarah's journey grabbed me from the get go and never let up. This is a book that I enjoyed to the point that I can very easily see it becoming one of my constant rereads for years to come.

After her mother is killed at a checkpoint, fifteen year old Sarah is on the run and trying to survive! She runs into a man who just happens to be a spy. After helping her she learns that he needs her help. Her mission: Attend a boarding school and work her way into the life of a top scientist’s daughter. After gaining this trust, be invited to their home and find the life-changing blueprints that her father holds in his possession. I often enjoy a good WWII novel, and this one was no exception. This book started off strong, then slowed a bit, and ended with my blood pressure rising. #wwiinovel #bookstagram #books #orphanmonsterspy

This book sucked me in from the beginning and didn't let go until the ending. I immediately fell in love with both the main character, Sarah and The Captain. I am hoping there is more to their story than just this book. Highly recommend!

4 stars. Sarah was such a fascinating character: vulnerable yet strong, innocent but wise. A very interesting dark read. It was very entertaining with both action packed scenes and dramatic moments, and I was constantly worried for the main character in each scene. The writer did a great job in regards to making the reader feel for the main character and her struggle.

This was a quick book, but not an easy read in terms of the topics brought up. Sarah is struggling to survive as a blonde haired blue eyed Jewish girl in a Nazi Germany. As her mother and her flee from one town to the next to escape the Nazi parties her luck starts to slowly run out. Sarah's mother is killed and she is forced to survive on her own, with the help of another mysterious character. As the mysterious man spies on the German's she makes her way into his care and becomes one of the little "monsters" in order to get into the good graces of elite German families building bombs. I enjoyed the characters, the fast pace of the books. You are right there in the action. I did not overly care for the constant bad words, even if they were in German. I do not think the extent they are used was totally necessary? Maybe it was. The struggles feel real, the plot seemed plausible. Overall, an easy quick read that keeps you entertained and on the edge of your seat.

Thank you First To Read/Viking/Penguin Random House for a copy of the book! 4 Stars! The action gets started right away with Sarah's mother being shot in the head while trying to drive Sarah and herself to safety. You see, Sarah is a Jew, and in 1939 Germany, that is not a good thing to be. Shortly after evading the guards at the checkpoint, Sarah meets up with a British Spy, Captain Floyd working under an alias of Herr Haller. In his short time around Sarah, he comes to realize that she is smart, observant, and quick thinking. Sarah hasn't had the easiest life thus far, so at 15 years old, she is small and malnourished. Since her mother used to be an actress, Sarah learned how to read people, how to adapt to the performers around you, and how to cry on demand. Skills that could help a young spy infiltrate a private school for the daughters of the German elite. Thus Ursula Haller is born. She will gain admittance to this school under the guise of being Herr Haller's niece, entrusted to his care. Sarah's goal is to make nice with the perfect little German "monsters", hopefully befriending Elsa Schafer and gaining access to her house. The idea is for Sarah to snoop and find information leading to Herr Schafer's plans for a bomb that could decimate Europe. Once inside, Sarah makes a friend in fellow student "Mouse" and meets the resident mean girls, which includes Elsa. The book sheds light on the poor conditions of these schools. For all the talk of being superior, these girls were not coddled. The food is terrible and the beds are crappy and the school is usually cold. They claim it is to make strong future mothers of good little soldiers. I really liked that Sarah was useful because most people underestimated her or just didn't want to deal with a crying little girl. All too often, the lead female is extra special, sometimes with uncanny abilities for no reason, and really good at everything. Over the years, Sarah lost friends as she and her family were forced under the radar, simply for being Jewish. She began observing the world around her, picking up on cues and reactions, which ultimately, helped her adapt to this new life. She was strong-willed and quick thinking, not fluent in 8 styles of combat at 12 languages. We are provided with some of Sarah's inner monologue, which at times is the voice of her mother helping her to think things through or simply urging her onward through a situation, and other times her own voice reminding her to run or calling herself dumme Schlampe. (If Google is to be believed, it means dumb bitch. Sarah calls herself a dumb bitch a lot.) While the book is over 400 pages, and didn't really drag, it feels like it moved quickly but also spent some extra time on items of lesser importance. We get some flashbacks and lots of German words peppered throughout the story. (A glossary or footnotes would be helpful here.) What we don't get is much "feeling" from Sarah. It is a lot of survival instincts to herself to move along, keep quiet, and do this or that, but little feeling. I would have liked a bit more on some of the secondary characters, such as Mouse and the Ice Queen. While this isn't completely flawless, I enjoyed it a great deal! I liked that even though Sarah was a Jew and knew that these were little German nationalists, she allowed herself to make a friend in Mouse, who showed her kindness and caring in a place where there really was none to spare.

This book was amazing! A quick read, I had a difficult time putting it down. The protagonist was well developed and written. I wish that I had written this book! I totally recommend it.

With her life tumbling down around her, she must overcome obstacles that even the adults in her life are incapable of doing. After running from the Nazis, she is given a chance to survive another day by a stranger. Right as she was about to escape to a new life, yet again, she chooses to save the new adult in her life which leads her into a path of danger. She has a new mission given to her that she uses her acting skills to battle her new foes, both mentally and physically, gaining unexpected friends in the run.

A great fast read. It’s all about the resourcefulness of a young girl and how she is underestimated over and over. Empowering and engaging until the very last page.

I was beyond excited to get a copy of this through Penguin. As I thought, I loved the story from start to finish. It was well written and definitely better than I thought it would be. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. 4.5 stars.

This was an amazing book from beginning to end. The sheer character strength of Sarah was amazing. She was extremely intelligent and able to reason in a way that most cannot. I loved her relationship with Captain and the assimilation into WWII and her having to switch sides and almost come to peril to get what she wants. I would say that this book will definitely win many awards and accolades as it should. Thanks for the ARC, First to Read!

Sarah, a blue eyed, blonde haired Jewish girl is set to infiltrate a Nazi boarding school for girls and mascarade as one of them. Her goal is befriend the daughter of a the scientist responsible for making a bomb that threatens the lives of thousands of innocent people. If she can survive her brutal classmates, terrible cafeteria food, evil teachers and earn enough respect to even talk to the girl in question..she might just stand a chance. This book was an interesting mix of historical fiction with some intense high school drama thrown in. All in all i found myself really enjoying it. I am not one to read historical fiction but although this took place during WW2 when Nazi germany was in full swing, the story wasn't too heavily bogged down with historical facts, thank goodness. Sarah gave an good insight on the hardships of growing up during such a terrible change in the world. Although she was portrayed as a bad ass heroin that was brave, admirable and refreshingly intelligent, there was also still a lot of pain and anger she held onto. Instead of wallowing in her misery and focusing only on the endless suffering of the jews, Sarah let those emotions fuel her to succeed in any way she could. I love admirable main characters. Overall great read, interested to see if there will be a sequel to this awesome book. I imagine this book will be well received by YA readers.

I didn't really know what I was going to get with Orphan Monster Spy, but goodness, what I got was probably better than anything I would've guessed. Most WWII novels that I read are either focused on the Allies and their efforts, be that spying or fighting or general history, or on the Holocaust and those in prison camps. I find both fiction and non-fiction books on these two topics really interesting, and up to this point, I was happy sort of staying in that lane. I didn't know I was hoping for a book like Orphan Monster Spy until I read it--one that focuses on the war from a completely unique viewpoint, one that doesn't shy away from the brutality and the horrors of the Nazi party just because it's a YA book, one that really makes me hope for a sequel despite the fact that it's going to take me a while to recover from this first one. Orphan Monster Spy is a whirlwind story right from the beginning. Sarah, a blue-eyed, blonde-haired Jew, is trying to escape Nazi Germany. Her mother has just been killed, and Sarah is on the run, fleeing from soldiers without anywhere to go. But a chance encounter and some quick thinking gives Sarah the chance to fight back against the Nazis, if only she's brave enough to return to the embrace of the Nazi party and infiltrate a boarding school filled with the daughters of Nazi leaders. What follows is a cutthroat game of cat and mouse, with secrets, competition, and more danger than ever. But lives are on the line, and Sarah is determined to get the job done, even if it costs her her life. I love Sarah's character. She's so unpredictable and clever, and her skills with impersonation and observation keep her from getting into too much trouble even when she's staring her enemies in the face. At the same time, she's not afraid to use that strength to help others or stand up for herself, even when it makes the job harder or when it's morally questionable. Her backstory is tragic, but it's made her the perfect person to work as a spy in this school, and I admire her ability to pack away the horrors and tragedies to push on. It's not exactly a healthy coping technique, but the fact that Sarah is able to manage with all that heaviness in her heart shows how strong she is and how dedicated she is to her mission. The relationship between Sarah and the Captain is initially strange, and I love how she's able to surprise him with her skills. As a spy, the Captain really should know better than to underestimate people, and I'm glad that he quickly realizes his mistake. Of course, he then turns around and uses his mistake to his advantage--assuming others would underestimate Sarah because of her gender, small size, and Aryan looks--which is quite clever and clearly works. The almost familial relationship that develops between them over the course of the story is very sweet, and I like where things end up between the two of them. The thing I love most about this book is probably how psychological it is. It's more than a bit horrifying to see the indoctrination of the girls in the boarding school and how the Nazi mindset pushes the girls to be so incredibly cruel to one another. Even more horrifying is seeing Sarah slip from time to time into that mindset; as a Jew, she's one of the people her schoolmates are vowing to destroy, yet there's more than one occasion where Sarah thinks about hurting or even killing someone just because they're weak or unsuccessful. She always catches herself, but these slip-ups are so well written and truly believable as Sarah pushes herself deeper and deeper into her persona of just another 'little monster.' Aside from the mind games, there's also a lot of action and suspense, with both Sarah and the Captain finding themselves in a number of life-threatening situations. On top of that, Sarah finds herself at odds with the top girls at her school, and the resulting threats and violence really push her to her limits. These scenes really make my skin crawl; they're horrible to read, but they fit perfectly into the twisted setting of the school and the girls there, and they give Sarah a chance to prove, albeit only to herself, that the Jews can be just as good if not better than the supposedly master race. My only sort-of complaint is that the last part of the book almost feels like a separate story. Sarah's mission from the start is to befriend Elsa Schäfer and gain entry into her house in order to steal Professor Schäfer's research on the atomic bomb. But the majority of the story takes place at school, and it's not really until the last fourth of the book that Sarah even speaks to Elsa. That being said, the action really picks up again once Sarah goes home with Elsa for Christmas, and Sarah finds herself in twice as much danger once she meets Professor Schäfer. As chilling as the terrors of the school are, Professor Schäfer is twice as bad. I was just expecting him to be a loyal Nazi and perhaps a bit of a mad scientist, which, admittedly, is bad enough. I would never have guessed that he's also a child molester or that he's having Elsa bring home other girls for him to prey on. This final twist is easily the most horrifying of the whole book, and I'm so grateful that Elsa stops things before Sarah can be harmed. Orphan Monster Spy is one of the most gripping and horrifying WWII books I've ever read. The viewpoint is unique and incredibly insightful, and the use of German terms really drives home the point that there were so many Jews who called Germany home until their fellow countrymen turned their backs on them. It's a heartbreaking reality, and reading about Sarah's torment and treatment at the hands of other German children is just awful. The entire book clearly demonstrates just how twisted the thinking and the ideals of Nazi party were, and Sarah's efforts to prevent more death at their hands makes for a fascinating story. The ending leaves some threads left dangling, so I'm hoping that there will be a sequel or a companion book. If you're looking for a new but chilling take on WWII, this book is it.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to read the blurb for Orphan Monster Spy. Everything about this appealed to me, and when I received the ARC I was practically chasing my tail! From the start, the book was full on, straight into the story at full tilt, and pretty much this carried on for the entirety. Sarah is an engaging and very sympathetic character, she’s 15 but looks 11, she has a gift for languages and music, and was gymnast before being Jewish stopped all that. She and her mother, who has slunk into alcoholism after being abandoned by Sarah’s non Jewish (and assumed married) father, flee their home but Sarah’s mother gets killed at a checkpoint. Sarah then becomes involved with ‘Herr Haller’ a man with an interesting accent who also is known as Capt. Floyd a British spy. With no family or friends or place to go, Sarah hitches her star with him, and becomes a spy. Sarah’s task is to befriend the daughter of a scientist working on a deadly bomb and to do so she must play the part of Ursula a Nazi girl, and go to boarding school. Sarah goes through some very terrible things, as this was an awful time. The worst of it here isn’t her being persecuted for being Jewish, though being small and “different” at boarding school is also enough to make you stand out, and she does. Sarah’s struggle to balance her fierce ideas of honesty and loyalty with the need to align herself with girls who are frankly terrifying bullies is wonderful to read, and for me the strongest aspect of the book. For an adult this would be a challenge, but Sarah shows such strength of will that I was in awe of her. Her ability to observe, assimilate and evolve throughout the book are impressive. There are many good other characters here as well, the Mouse, a girl spying for another reason, The Ice Queen aka the leader of the pack – an utterly terrifying girl. Elsa, damaged and brave and Capt Flynn both hero and villain. But this is Sarah’s book throughout. Told in the present, in flash back and with an inner monologue made of her mother’s voice as well as her own the story is incredibly gripping. As I read as I felt in many ways that I was in a film script, and I could see that this would make a very gripping film. And that for me was also why I didn’t love this book, it was a little too televisual for my taste. However, it was exciting, well written and well researched. The book is aimed at 14+ readers, and I’m sure that they will really enjoy it.

Surviving during a war in a country whose leaders would rather see you dead is a tremendous endeavor. For an orphan in Matt Killeen's Orphan Monster Spy, becoming a spy is her ticket to survival. Fifteen year old Sarah is recently orphaned after her mother was shot and killed at a checkpoint. As a Jewish girl with blonde hair and blue eyes, and her mother's lessons on play-acting, Sarah is able to trick her way to safety as she navigates Nazi occupied regions. When Sarah meets a man, whose accent she finds curious, her future takes on a new trajectory as she becomes a spy for him, as he just so happens to be a British spy with a mission he can't complete alone. In working with him, Sarah enrolls in an elite boarding school as Ursula, where her goal is to befriend the daughter of a top Nazi scientist working on an immensely dangerous bomb. As she learns about the school, the girls, and the higher ranking Nazi officials she's observing, Sarah comes to realize the constant danger surrounding her as she strives to survive. A story of espionage with the perilous background of pre-World War II Nazi Germany, this engaging tale moves at a brisk pace as events unfold. The inclusion of German words or phrases throughout the novel was a good effort to include historical context to the well-researched story, but I found that the method of German word/English word in the text was cumbersome and pulled my attention from the story - even for those who don't read or speak German, contextual clues could have been used to offer the meaning without explicitly stating it. Though intriguing, and the basis of the novel's continued existence, I did find that there wasn't much developed reasoning behind Sarah's hasty agreement to work as a spy for a man she just met. It was an interesting tactic to have Sarah's thoughts function as an internal dialogue between her and her mother, who seems to have been coaching Sarah in her behavior for survival, as it offers a touch of psychological drama to the tension of spying and survival.  Overall, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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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