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Literature / Spy High

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Series of young adult books by British author AJ Butcher, about a gang of teens who attend the prestigious Deveraux College - really a school for the training of young spies. The books focus on the six members of "Bond Team": Ben, Lori, Jake, Eddie, Cally and Jennifer, later replaced with Bex. There are two individual series in the franchise - in series one the heroes are teenagers training at Deveraux College, whereas in the second series they are adults venturing out on independent missions for the first time.


Tropes found in the series include:

  • Above the Influence: Jake to Dark in Jake Black.
  • Action Girl: All four of the Bond Team girls count, though Cally takes the role less often than the others.
  • Arrogant Kung Fu Girl: How Jennifer starts the series, although she had mellowed out slightly by the time of her death.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Jonathan Deveraux in Agent Orange, though foreshadowed in previous books.
  • Alliterative Name: Calista "Cally" Cross.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Pendragon Virus, for one.
  • Asian Airhead: Jennifer is a borderline Type One
  • Back from the Dead: Jennifer, briefly, in The Paranoia Plot. Also the whole team minus Bex in Agent Orange, though they weren't technically dead. Ben in Benjamin White is presumed dead at the end of the book, but returns in Calista Green.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Ben and Cally. Guess who his love interest turns out to be.
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  • Berserk Button: Nobody's allowed to be killed on Jake's watch. Ever.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: A male version with Ben, Jake and Eddie respectively.
  • Colour Coded Characters: The team's official codenames after graduation are Edward Red, Angel Blue (Lori), Benjamin White, Jake Black, Callista Green and Agent Orange (Bex). The second series of books is titled accordingly. We never find out what colour Jennifer would have been, though it's possible she was the original Orange.
  • Crapsack World
  • Darker and Edgier: The second series of books, in which Bond Team are adult spies on their first solo missions. Jake Black is probably the Darkest and Edgiest is gets though.
  • Death by Origin Story: Jennifer's family, all killed by Talon because they refused to pay menaces money.
  • Dragon Lady: Kim Tang in The Serpent Scenario
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  • Duel to the Death: Several throughout the series. Talon has two in The Serpent Scenario, one with Jennifer, which he wins, and one with Jake, which he loses spectacularly. There's two in The Soul Stealer as well: Ben takes on Jake in a Good vs. Good duel (they do the same in Angel Blue), before Ben takes on his uncle Alex at the end.
  • Five-Token Band: We have Oirish Eddie, super-wealthy Ben, wrong-side-of-the-tracks Jake, African-American Cally, Chinese-American Jennifer and rebel Bex.
  • Heroic BSoD: Every book. Literally, every single one.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Cally, possibly justified with the futuristic setting.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Series two showed that some characters were in sexual relationships, although nothing takes place on the pages.
  • Hypothetical Casting: The author is on record as saying that if the books were ever to be made into a movie, he would want Anna Kournikova to play Lori. Also counts as What The Hell, Casting Agency?, since Kournikova is a tennis player - not an actress.
  • Jerk Jock: Ben fits this trope in every way but for the fact that we never really see him play a sport. It's mentioned that he does play, however, and he's highly skilled at physical tasks during Bond Team's training.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jake
  • Killed Off for Real: Jennifer in series one. She's temporarily resurrected, but chooses to die again when she realises her body is just an empty shell now. Simon is later Killed Off for Real as well.
  • LEGO Genetics: A major part of the first book.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Cally, abandoned as a baby, was given the surname "Cross" because she was found with a crucifix necklace on her.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: in the first book, Bond team isn't told about the sinister disaepearences (including of a fellow agent) in the park they're doing their survival test in and only find out when they encounter a party of hunters looking for some of the missing men.
  • Moral Dilemma: Jake faces on of these throughout Jake Black, where he is tasked with killing international terrorist leader Sicarius, since he is sick of criminals escaping jail once incarcerated. Eventually brings in shades of If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him as well, when Lori shows up.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Averted; the heroes age from 16-17ish to early 20s over the course of the books.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Eddie.
  • Official Couple: Ben/Lori, Jake/Jennifer and Eddie/Bex (series one), Ben/Cally, Eddie Rose and Lori/Robbie (series two.)
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There is a Sonia Dark on Solo Team and also a girl codenamed Dark in the Black Ops Division.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Book 3 introduces a new drug called Drac which is highly and instantaneously addictive. Addicts are described as being extremely pale, with blood red eyes, sharp teeth, and a craving for blood.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Eddie, who doubles as a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ben and Jake
  • Redemption Equals Death: Quite a few examples, including Kim Tang in the first series, Clone!Jennifer and Simon Macey.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Cally.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Ben
  • School for Scheming: Deveraux College is a cover for the training of young spies.
  • Second Love: In Calista Green, Cally prepares to move on and start a new relationship with her field handler Jimmy after Ben is killed in action. Subverted when it turns out he is still alive, and Cally goes back to him.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Ben and Cally get one at the end of Calista Green.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Lori
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Many of the villains, most notably Vlad Tepesch (named for real-life warlord Vlad "The Impaler" Tepes, the basis for the fictional Dracula). He even manufactures a highly addictive drug called "Drac" which drains addicts of their blood.
  • Survivor Guilt: Cally gets a strong case of this after Ben is believed dead in Calista Green. Ben's mother deliberately tries to invoke the trope with You Should Have Died Instead.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Bex for Jennifer
  • Teen Super Spy: The whole premise of the first series, though they're adults in the second.
  • Tempting Fate: This occurs in every single book in the first series. EVERY SINGLE ONE. As if that wasn't bad enough, the characters usually say this somewhere either in the beginning or the middle of the book, where there are enough pages afterwards fo things to get worse.
  • The Rival: Simon of Solo Team is this to Ben. Could also make an argument for Jake and Ben in the earlier books.
  • Time Skip: Between the first and second series
  • Tough Room: Eddie is often subjected to this.
  • True Love Is Exceptional: Ben's true love turns out to be Cally, a far cry from the previous girls he'd dated, who were all equally as privileged as him (including Lori.)
  • Tuckerization: Kate Taylor in Agent Orange is named after a reader called Kate Harrison, who had won a fan contest to appear in the book.
  • United Europe: The books feature a European super-state known as "Europa"
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Bex's father is the headmaster of the Deveraux College and rarely had time for her while she was growing up, even when she became a student at the school herself. The most time they get to spend together is in Agent Orange when he turns out to be the Big Bad and she's trying to save the world from him.
  • You Gotta Have Green Hair: Bex's hair is frequently dyed green, among other varied colours.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The rebels Ben allies himself with in Benjamin White to overthrow the Tepesch regime.


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