At first look, Bayport High looks like your typical high school in an affluent neighborhood, with the same social hierarchy and some really stellar athletic facilities. A closer examination proves that the high school is anything but ordinary. Toby Klein is a sophomore computer hacker with zero school spirit and a seriously bad attitude. She’s the last person you’d ever expect to be invited as a walk-on to Bayport High’s premier cheerleading squad, also known as the God Squad. She realizes that Bayport High is more than what it appears as she discovers that the school’s hottest girls are threatening in more ways than one. The cheer squad is a cover for a highly trained group of underage government operatives. If Toby can handle the makeover, she’ll be set on a mission with some very dangerous girls.
I had a really hard time getting into this book, which felt very much like some other novels that feature teenage spies, only without a likeable protagonist. The premise isn’t anything original, with school activities being a cover for teenage government operatives, but what really bothered me about the narrative was the constant emphasis on being perfect.
Every girl on the Squad, aside form Toby is picture perfect and obsessed with all things pink. The character development for the Squad felt off to me, with a bunch of them being introduced in the beginning and then real development occurring after the halfway point in the book when one of the girls gives Toby a rundown on each girl’s backstory. By that point I was already annoyed with them and hadn’t connected, so it was too little too late.
As for Toby, I can see why she’d be wary of these perfect girls who drag her into some shady business, but I still had a difficult time connecting with her snarky demeanor. I don’t think that all characters need to be likeable in order for a book to be good, but I do need a reason to care about their fate, and I never did find out why I should care for Toby. Her motivations are unclear and it was hard to root for her.
Overall, I just didn’t connect with the characters I this book enough to care about their outcomes, and I never really got on board with their mission. It all felt very cliché and done before for me, and when there are other amazing teenage spy books like Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series and Robin Benway’s Also Known As books, this one failed to stand up to a higher standard.