Young Adult Reviews

Review: Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen


orphan monster spy


Nazi Germany. Sarah is left an orphan when her mother is shot at a road block. Sarah puts her trust in a British Spy and agrees to play a vital part in his mission. She goes undercover as a German schoolgirl and attempts to befriend the daughter of an eminent scientist.

Sarah negotiates cruel teachers and school-girl bullies, all the while working to get herself and the Captain into the scientist’s house. Trapped in a world of lies Sarah does what she must to survive, but will she ever be protected by the adults around her?

A fast-moving thriller which poses deep questions about the rise of fascism.


Sarah will do anything to survive, even become the thing she hates. A dumb monster. The theme which affected me most was how ‘ordinary’ people’s behaviour allows the rise of fascism. The Captain makes a comment about the rise of the Nazis which is particularly pertinent in the modern day. A few years ago the Nazi party was just a few angry men in a beer hall. Although this is set in WW2 the themes it talks about are relevant today.  

Sarah’s relationship with her mother was clearly unhappy and this drives her to act. To prove herself. It is possibly also the reason she bonds with Captain. She is willing to trust anyone who will stay with her but isn’t necessarily the best judge of who to trust. The Captain has secrets of his own and there are things he doesn’t tell Sarah about her mission. I cared very much about Sarah and wanted her to find a safe place and someone she trusts. Her friendship with Maus is touching because Maus is someone Sarah forms a genuine bond with.   

The novel does a brilliant job of showing ways children might have been affected by the Nazi regime. Sarah lives in fear for her life. The school bullies have been brainwashed into believing things the regime says are true. Maus barely meets the standards set by the school. The novel clearly explores how fascism benefits some by taking from others.

A dark and compelling thriller which will keep readers hooked. If you like high-stakes thrillers this will keep you turning the pages.

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