Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen (ARC): A Jewish Spy in a Nazi Boarding School


3.5 stars

In Matt Killeen’s World War II drama, blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish Sarah finds herself on the run from the government–and straight into the lap of a mysterious man who she discovers is a spy.

He needs Sarah to become a spy to, in a different manner than infiltrating the government: Infiltrating an elite Nazi boarding school.

There, Sarah must pull off the mission he cannot–befriend the daughter of a key scientist and steal the blueprints to a bomb with the potential to destroy countless cities. But nothing prepares her for the cutthroat schoolmates she encountered a battle for survival she couldn’t have imagined.


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This book is an action packed monster. There’s all sorts of thrilling things going on here and it makes for a very compelling narrative.

I had a lot of fun reading it in the sense that I was always entertained and sped right through the whole book–yet, this source of entertainment also left a small sour feeling in my mouth.

I can’t comment on the sensitivity of this novel–I neither have the knowledge nor the cultural experience to say whether or not this would be offensive to someone. But at times I disliked just how commercial this book was.

Most WWII books you read are emotionally heavy–there are millions of people who are being discriminated against, treated badly, and killed. And with this notion of other WWII books, I did feel bad about myself when reading this because I felt like I wasn’t supposed to enjoy such a terrible time in the world’s history so much.

It literally says it in the summary that this is a “highly commercial…drama.”

And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I do still feel kind of guilty for enjoying a book that’s entertaining despite the millions of people suffering.

But if we ignore the actual premise, this book is so entertaining.

I was totally sucked in and read this all in one morning because it was such a entertaining read. The plot and pacing were all great and it balanced out well.

But, I was a little foggy on some things.

The character development. This happens to countless action-y novels, but I felt like the characters were not developed enough.

What really got me was the lack of motive. I’m not sure if I just missed it, or if it was really unclear, but I didn’t really get a good grasp of why Sarah agreed to be a spy. She’s a 15 year old orphan–why would she risk her life like that?

I get the very basic “revenge” and “free Germany from the bad government” idea, but she can’t be that moral. I needed more on her motivations, and this was what ultimately dropped the rest of the book’s rating for me. It was just too unclear on the why, and it made me not appreciate what was happening as much.

Likewise, the motivation of the spy guy she meets should have been questioned more–who would actually risk the life of a random girl? Why would he accept her so easily?

The motives behind all the actions were one of the parts that I think needed a little more work in this novel, but besides this and the niggling feeling, I did enjoy this book (hence the positive rating).

If you’re looking for an entertaining read in a high stakes environment that won’t require too much emotional investment, check out Killeen’s debut, Orphan Monster Spy!

Trigger warning for rape.

Thank you to my library and Viking BFYR/Penguin for providing me with an (uncatalogued) advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!

much love, vicky

Have you heard of Orphan Monster Spy? What do you think of the summary?

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