FeaturedMiddle Grade

Agent Jax: How to Build a Secret Agent


Loved it! 😍

This comical detective novel is accessible to middle grade readers, especially those with an interest in engineering and crime fighting.

Living with a secret agent for a brother can be both exciting and frustrating. Twelve-year-old Jackson (or Jax for short) is in awe of his older brother, famously known as Agent One. Despite his greatest desires, though, Agent One does not feel that Jax is ready to be trained as an agent himself. However, Jax uses his engineering and sleuthing skills—and well-timed peanut butter and pastrami sandwiches—to secretly assist his brother’s missions. Agent One is currently investigating the nefarious Big Boss; while Agent One must determine who Big Boss is and what his plans are, Jax may prove to be more helpful than he thinks. After meeting a mysterious new friend named Athena, Jax recounts his adventures and gets to know more about his community through their interactions.

This entertaining spy story is geared toward a middle grade audience with an interest in engineering, ninjas, and crime fighting. Recounted from multiple perspectives, the story is primarily told in the past tense as characters are writing about events that have already taken place. A visual avatar and character name begin each chapter to orient readers to the speaker at each shift. Each character has a mostly unique voice, and the older characters use more elevated language than the younger ones. 

Short chapters and a narrative style make the writing accessible to readers who are becoming more confident with longer books. Occasional illustrations enhance understanding while providing a visual respite, as well. Included in the writing are comical references and puns, and the action sequences are very reminiscent of the antics that take place in the Home Alone movies.

Most of the characters in the story have a propensity for engineering and mechanics, designing and building go carts, robots, and more. As any scientist will understand, things do not always go right the first time, and sometimes it is important to rely on others to get a fresh perspective. This modeled behavior will inspire readers to continue modifying their own ideas that need improvement.

Written with a sequel in mind, this story-driven and mysterious novel leaves readers wanting more. Middle grade readers with an interest in robotics and detective work will connect with Jax’s story and be excited to learn what happens next.

Reviewed by

I review books for kids, tweens, and teens and blog about them on my website. To date, I have over 500 published reviews. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at www.maryrlanni.com to get recommendations straight to your inbox! I primarily write reviews, but will create video reviews upon request.


About the author

Bryant Condie is the father of four precocious children and a bedtime storyteller extraordinaire. He has been a trusted mentor to countless teenagers as a volunteer leader for outdoor activities, sports, and spiritual development. Agent Jax: How to Build a Secret Agent is his debut novel. view profile

Published on October 01, 2020

Published by

30000 words

Genre: Middle Grade

Reviewed by