Book Reviews: Code Red Lipstick, Sarah Sky
Code Red Lipstick
by Sarah Sky Series: Jessica Cole: Model Spy #1 Published by Scholastic
on 5 June 2014 Format:
Models, spies and lipstick gadgets in this fast-paced new teen series. Jessica Cole is just your average teenager, except when she's strutting down the glamorous catwalks of Paris. When her father, a former spy, vanishes mysteriously, Jessica takes matters into her own hands. She's not just good at striking a pose, she's going to take on MI6 and beat them at their own game. Following her father's trail, Jessica's investigation lands her hot on the heels of a deranged former supermodel, Allegra Knight, who plans to unleash mayhem on an unsuspecting teenage population with the launch of her new miracle face cream, Teenosity.
In a world of feisty, butt-kicking teenage heroines, Jessica Cole (Model Spy) is as feisty and butt-kicky as they come (unsurprising, given Sarah Sky is a brown belt in karate and knows how to use the hidden gadgets in an armoured car to destroy a vehicle in pursuit. Kapow!)
I’d definitely want Jessica Cole on my side in a fight. With a jab to the solar plexus and a fist to the nose, she single-handedly decks school bully, Tommy Williams, and when she catches him bullying a younger child she zaps him with one of the gadgets she’s ‘borrowed’ from her former-MI6 father’s secret spy-lair.
Despite the whacking and walloping, Jessica is a sympathetic and lovable character. Resourceful rather than reckless. Gutsy rather than fearless. She’s the kind of girl who bites her nails until they bleed, but still goes out there to save the world.
Code Red Lipstick contains the action and intrigue you’d expect from a teen spy novel, but with added girl power. You won’t find any knights in shining armour riding to Jessica Cole’s rescue. Her MS-sufferer dad is put out of action by a crazy ex-supermodel, her MI6 godfather appears to be working for the wrong side, and her PBF (potential future boyfriend) is left at home sending ‘where are you?’ emails. As Oprah would say, ‘Go, girl!’
The mystery is tightly plotted and the gadgets are convincing – I particularly fancy the iPad with thermal heat-sensor function that helps Jessica sneak into school.
When it comes to the modelling part of the story, I have to confess to being a brand-oblivious scruff-bucket. I have no idea what a vintage grey ruffled pea coat looks like, and I’m the kind of ‘hilarious’ adult who’d annoy teenagers by asking if they wore their Religion leather jacket to church. But, judging by Sarah Sky’s attention to detail throughout the book, I have no doubt the brands listed will strike a chord with more fashion-aware readers and add authenticity to the story.
What I do love about the modelling connection in Code Red Lipstick (just as in the Geek Girl series) is that it encourages eccentric characterisation and justifies exciting foreign settings – in this case, Paris.
For those who enjoy Code Red Lipstick as much as I did, the good news is the sequel is coming out in January and a third book is due next summer. Model-Spy-tastic.
My next mission is to convince Sarah Sky to agree to an interview with Book Walrus. Watch this space . . .