Barnes, Jennifer Lynn. 2008. The Squad: Killer Spirit. Random House. 324 pages.
Once upon a time, I thought that the cheerleaders at my high school were no more capable of intelligent thought or true athleticism than the average dachshund. Suffice to say that unless the wiener dogs of the world have been holing out on me--big time--I was very, very wrong.
This book is the sequel to The Squad: Perfect Cover. Both books are great fun in a quirky, sarcastic meets Alias kinda way. Both books star a teen girl, Toby, who unexpectedly finds herself chosen to be a cheerleader. But not just any cheerleader, no, the super-fun, undercover-spy, working-for-the-government, top-secret, glitter-wearing kind of cheerleader. Transitioning from proud-loner to popular-cheerleader hasn't been easy for Toby. The first book is about the recruitment and Toby's first few weeks. The second book opens a few weeks after the close of the first novel. It's fall and homecoming is approaching. But a big case has come up as well. The book balances both the danger and treachery of spies working on a tricky case and the typical high school melodrama centering on homecoming, football, pep rallies, and homecoming courts. (Who will be Queen? Who will be princess? Who will go with whom to the dance?) You can read an excerpt from the book here.
What I love most about this one? Besides the general snarkiness of Toby? The friction-filled, chemistry-packed always-on-the-verge-of-developing relationship between Jack and Toby (or "Ev" as he calls her short for "Everyone knows Toby.") This is the scene right after Toby learns that she has been nominated for Homecoming Queen...along with all the other members of the cheerleading squad.
"Fancy meeting you here." Jack spoke into the back of my head, but I knew it was him.
Darn Noah. Darn the PTA president. Darn Hayley Hoffman.
"Aren't you going to say something, Ev?"
I muttered an expletive under my breath, and Jack smiled.
"That's my girl."
"I'm not your girl," I said sharply.
He stepped closer, until the rest of the crowd felt miles away by comparison. "You could be."
There were times when I almost couldn't restrain myself around him, times when I wanted to kiss him again so badly that my lips literally hurt. This wasn't one of them. He was being suave and smooth, and I wasn't falling for it.
"Yeah," I said, "and I could also tattoo an anorexic pterodactyl on my navel, but I'm not planning to do that either."
"Anorexic pterodactyl." He repeated my words, and the self-assured smirk on his face was replaced with repressed amusement. "Sounds more like a butt tattoo to me."
It was comments like that one that did me in. He could wax poetic about me being his girl or how beautiful I was or whatever from now until graduation, and it wouldn't inspire anything in me other than the desire to spell out for him just how much of a tool I thought he was. But the moment he started snarking or quipping or admiring my snarky quippiness, I was a goner.
"I'll make you a deal, Ev. You go to homecoming with me, and I'll save you from having to go to the God Squad after-party."
He knew how to sweet-talk a girl. He really knew how to sweet-talk a girl....
But will she say yes? Did she say yes? Can she survive long enough to get to the dance? Read and see!
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Appears at YA Romance Challenge by permission :)