The Cambridge Files: Book One

Young Adult - Action
338 Pages
Reviewed on 04/06/2014
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Si Ning Yeoh for Readers' Favorite

Summer camp is for losers and nerds. Matt considers this a fact. That’s why he is none too pleased when his father decides to send him to Camp Friendship as a punishment for a prank gone terribly wrong. Resigning himself to a stultifying few weeks keeping his head down, Matt is first baffled, then thrilled, when the camp turns out to be more than it seems. In fact, Matt thinks that he may just be on the fast track to becoming a CIA spy! Sure, the land mines on the soccer field and the murderous bullies out for his blood are a little alarming, but that’s normal for a CIA training camp, isn’t it? No matter the truth, it’s clear that Matt will need all the luck and cunning that he has to navigate the treacherous politics of Camp Friendship in Disruption, Book One of Steven Whibley’s Cambridge Files.

If you enjoy young adult novels like Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy and Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series, you’ll find Disruption absolutely, gloriously brilliant. Matt Cambridge is the perfect protagonist - naively bratty without being unlikable, unexpectedly remarkable without being unrealistic, full of guts and ambition and inventiveness. You can’t help but root for him, even as you howl in frustration when he bumbles into increasingly deadly encounters due to his ignorance. His interactions with the side characters are also incredibly entertaining; it’s hilarious to see how they are drawing wrong conclusions about Matt and are continuously impressed by his supposed brilliance, when in reality what Matt has going for him is sheer dumb luck. Whibley juggles all the mysteries surrounding Matt and Camp Friendship with deft ease; as I was reading, I kept on thinking, this is it, this is the moment when everything has to go belly up, but no, the story only reached and kept reaching thrilling new heights before tying up into a highly satisfying ending. In short, this is definitely one series I will be keeping my eye on!

Lit Amri

Fourteen-year-old incorrigible prankster Matt Cambridge has done it again – his latest being nearly destroying his school’s gym, which leads to a mayhem of panicky fellow students and teachers. His parents are disappointed and desperate to straighten him up. The solution? Camp Friendship, which guarantees that it will strengthen a youth’s moral compass. As a janitor for a company called Sledge Industries, his father had to pull some strings to get Matt into this elite summer camp. But Matt finds out that it is more than that. This summer camp teaches passports forging, weapons training, and fighting skills. It is not long before Matt discovers Camp Friendship’s true, menacing purpose and he needs to escape. Disruption is Book 1 of the Cambridge Files series by Steven Whibley.

Disruption grabbed my attention from start to finish. While Matt Cambridge is a protagonist that readers would love to hate, he is also a type of daredevil that readers would definitely love to cheer on, especially during his attempt to outwit the authorities of Camp Friendship. Steven Whibley’s nimble writing style makes it easier for us to visualize the scene settings, giving the story additional depth and sense. I also enjoyed the humor in the story. All in all, Whibley has created an superb YA fiction that plays out in unexpected and unusual ways. He clearly writes it from a teenager's point of view, but I truly find this to be a fine and engaging read that will appeal to YA and mature readers alike.

Lisa Jones

Disruption (The Cambridge Files Book One) by Steven Whibley follows the plight of teenager Matt Cambridge. After continually pulling silly pranks and always being in trouble, his latest prank outshines the rest. His father has had enough and decides to pull some strings and get Matt accepted into Camp Friendship, hoping that it will help his son to see the error of his ways. Matt is dismayed at the thought of a lame camp, but he has no choice but to go. This camp, however, is not as it seems after he is almost blown up and killed on the first day. The deeper he finds himself being pulled into the intrigue of it all, the greater the risk to his life. Just when he thinks he has solved the mystery of the camp, he realises that it could not be further from the truth.

Steven Whibley delivers a wonderful novel of mystery and intrigue in Disruption. It reminded me a little of The Hunger Games and it kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. The storyline was very good and the plot kept me guessing throughout. The main characters were developed and well thought through. The genre suggests the younger market but I think this would be for all ages. There was plenty of refreshing humour within chapters which I enjoyed immensely. Writing this book from a teenager's perspective gave the novel a different angle. It enabled the reader to be drawn into the story from the start. What a wonderful and refreshing read that I heartily recommend.

Faridah Nassozi

Matt Cambridge was more trouble than most teenage boys, but when his latest prank almost killed a whole gymnasium of kids, his parents decided enough was enough. Desperate to straighten him out, his father sneaked him into a summer camp. Matt had never been to summer camp before so he did not know what exactly to expect, but hoped it would not be one of those boring camps - he got his wish all right. Before he even knew what he was doing or what kind of camp he was at, he was made a Delta, the highest rank in the camp which gave him a lot of power, but also put him in grave danger seeing that he had no idea what he was doing. Reality hit when his very first challenge almost got him blown to pieces and suddenly he found himself working with real guns, making fake IDs, learning self defence, and many other military skills. Between the military style training and leading his team in the life threatening competitions, he sets out on a mission to find out what this camp is really about and who was behind it all. The answers he got were beyond anything he could have ever imagined.

Disruption: The Cambridge Files by Steven Whibley is a high-paced YA thriller with a twist. Imagine a high level, off the books military boot camp - with a CIA style setting, only this time replace mean looking trainees with kids some as young as ten; that is Camp Friendship. Then throw in a team captain who has never had any sort of military training but he is just counting on his cunning ways and good luck to take him through the stay at the camp. Steven Whibley's excellent writing skills come out in the way he masterfully manages to twist the plot so that it has the high level, deadly military training setup, but at the same time the story remains perfectly suitable for its intended audience - young adults. It is an adrenaline-pumping story with the perfect mix of action, drama, adventure, and mystery and any fan of the YA genre will definitely love it.

Paul Johnson

Fourteen-year-old Matt Cambridge has always loved pranks and has executed many. But, his latest prank goes wrong and he nearly destroys a portion of his school. Since his parents are out of discipline options, they do what they have to do. His father manages to pull a few strings and somehow gets his son into Camp Friendship. Matt has no desire to go to a lame summer camp, but the only other alternative is to be shipped off to live with relatives in Alaska. With a name like Camp Friendship, Matt imagines three agonizing weeks of mind-numbing wasted summer.

But things are not always as they seem. Within minutes of arriving at the camp, he is almost killed — twice. Although at almost a complete loss, it doesn’t take long for him to realize there's more to the camp than first appears. In fact, he’s never heard of a summer camp with programs in forging passports, fighting, and weapons training. Matt soon wonders if he has somehow been enrolled in some kind of elite spy school. What he doesn’t know is that Camp Friendship's ultimate purpose is far more sinister than he could possibly imagine. Can he survive? Hey, it’s only for three weeks…

All I can say about this book is wow. It’s been quite some time since I picked up a book and read it through without putting it down, especially with an excellent plot unlike any I’ve previously read. Steven Whibley has put together a great story of action and adventure. Although geared toward a YA audience, any action adventure lover will certainly enjoy it. The reader will quickly find the characterization to be well developed. The action is nonstop and of course there’s a good little twist at the end. Excellent.