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★★★★☆ Book Review: Ace Agent Spycat and the Flying Sidekick by Darren Lim

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Anthropomorphic felines star in this action-packed adventure.

If you ever wondered what cats get up to when you’re not looking, then let your imagination run wild with Darren Lim’s new Ace Agent Spycat book series, where cats from an international spy organisation save the world, one mission at a time.

In the first book of the series, Ace Agent Spycat and the Flying Sidekick, we’re introduced to our fearless feline protagonist, the titular Ace Agent Spycat, who teams up with his new partner, the brilliant inventor Rockcat. Together, they set foot (or perhaps, paw) onto Boracay, and face off against the nefarious penguin Blackwing attempting to transform the sunny island paradise into a winter nightmare.

Darren Lim displays excellent pacing in his writing, immediately introducing us to the massive threat at hand and encapsulating the seriousness of Blackwing’s plot. Introductions to characters are done quickly, efficiently and effectively, with just a few lines of dialogue required to capture their essence and personalities. It’s not long before we dive straight into the action, and like the best spy franchises, both Spycat and Rockcat bring out gadget after amazing gadget. From the Catzooka (a grappling hook) to a Catcom (a personal computer), readers’ eyes will be kept wide open with wonder as they flip the pages.

Throughout the book, Darren Lim also inserts segments introducing readers to some of the more unfamiliar terms and concepts mentioned in the book. Even as an older reader, we found these facts well-explained, and occasionally, even learned something new for ourselves, something no doubt younger readers would be similarly captivated by. Using different fonts for emphasis on sound effects throughout the book also helps add drama for readers, while Lai Hui Li’s cartoon-like illustrations give just enough visual aid to help us imagine, in our mind’s eye, the scenes our valiant heroes get caught up in.

With the brisk pace and vivid descriptions, one feels almost as if we’re reading a literary version of an animated series. You can practically hear a theme song playing in your head as Spycat and Rockcat storm Blackwing’s icy castle, doing battle with his penguin cronies and encountering ever greater threats the deeper they go. By the time you reach the inevitable happy ending as our heroes emerge triumphant, you’ll already be wondering when the next book in the series is coming out, just so you can spend a little more time with these dauntless agents as they jet off on their next great adventure.

Recommended for: Fans of animated cartoons who want to pick up the reading habit, and go on a literary adventure. 

Ace Agent Spycat and the Flying Sidekick is published by Epigram and available here

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