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Full Name: Ben Ripley
Series Name: Spy School
Nationality: American
Organization: CIA
Occupation Agent

Creator: Stuart Gibbs
Time Span: 2012 - 2023


Benjamin Ripley is an agent with the CIA.

He is 12 years old and in middle school.

It would not be unexpected to blink at both those statements. Kids barely into their teens are not supposed to be recruited into the government's chief spying organization. This, despite the fact that one of Ripley's dreams for some time was to be a spy. When the man came to his door and told him he was an exceptional young man just perfect for attending a special school for spy training, Ripley could not have been more excited. A dream come true.

What no one told him then, and would not tell him for a while, is he was not wanted so much for being exceptional but because he could be used as bait to snare some very nasty people. The fact that bait is usually eaten by the prey before the snatch is completed is not lost on Ripley. The title of the mission he was originally pulled into was Operation Creeping Badger. As we learn in the first page of the first adventure from a memo by the CIA's Internal Investigations unit, the mission did "not proceed as planned" and the need arose to "determine exactly what went wrong, why it went wrong, and who should be terminated for it." No mention is made of what sort of termination was in order.

Now, naturally Ripley is ignorant of the whole 'bait' part. To him he was selected because he had come to their attention because he had accessed the CIA's website 728 times, usually to "play the games on the kids' page - at which you performed very well, by the way" but he also checked out the employment and the internship pages regularly. "When you express an interest in the CIA, the CIA becomes interested in you. (good to know)"

Ripley may be a dreamer in his fantasy about becoming an agent but he also has some impressive skills and is "a straight-A student who speaks three languages and has 'Level 16' math skills (meaning he has a gift for mathematics). He also knows, according to him, exactly what time it is. He aced his STIQ exams, which are explained as Standardized Test Inserted Questions, or questions the Agency places into every standardized test to assess potential espionage aptitude".

Ripley is accepted into the Academy of Espionage of the CIA. Never heard of it? Neither had Ripley but he was assured by the man making the offer to him that it exists and is "a fine institution, dedicated to creating the agents of tomorrow today". Training at the Academy lasts six years, from 7th to 12th grade. The outside world thinks of the Academy as being the St. Smithen's Science Academy for Boys and Girls.

Ripley has an interesting life ahead of him, if he lives that long.


Number of Books:11
First Appearance:2012
Last Appearance:2023

1 Spy School Spy School
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2012

Ben Ripley really wanted to be a spy so when the CIA invited him to attend their Academy of Espionage, he jumped at the chance. Then he learned he was chosen only to be bait to atract a notorious enemy agent for capture. To survive, he knows he has to step up his game.
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2 Spy Camp Spy Camp
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2013

With Summer arriving, Ben Ripley thought he had a couple months off but, nope, he and his classmates are sent to Spy Camp where more training will happen. He will also find out about SPYDER, an evil spy academy. Luckily he also meets Erica, a fellow student, and he will need her to survive.
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3 Evil Spy School Evil Spy School
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2015

At a game of Capture The Flag, Ben Ripley accidentally fires a live mortar into the principal's office. He is expelled. When the Evil Spy School invites him to join them, he accepts.
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4 Spy Ski School Spy Ski School
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2016

Though he is most definitely not the best student the Spy School has had, he still gets picked to go on a real assignment. He is to become friends with Jessica, daughter of a possible Chinese crime boss. When she wants to go to ski school, he must go to.
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5 Spy School Secret Service Spy School Secret Service
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2017

Ben Ripley is on his first solo mission and it is a vital one. He goes undercover in the White House to find the SPYDER agent put there to kill the President. Ripley must uncover the assassin and stop him or her.
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6 Spy School Goes South Spy School Goes South
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2018

The offer to pinpoint SPYDER's headquarters is too good to ignore so the CIA tells Ben Ripley to accept Murray Hill's offer of help. Ripley does not trust him but he must head south of the border anyways to look for it, aided only by Erica.
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7 Spy School British Invasion Spy School British Invasion
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2019

Having come so close to capturing the leadership of SPYDER, Ben Ripley and his friends feel the only way to continue is to "go rogue" and join up with MI-6 to have another try at their enemy.
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8 Spy School British Revolution Spy School British Revolution
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2020

"With SPYDER defeated, Ben Ripley is looking forward to his life getting back to normal, or as normal as possible when you're a superspy in training. For once, everything seems to be right in Ben's world...until someone bombs the CIA conference room next door.
To Ben's astonishment, the attacker is none other than Erica Hale, the spy-in-training he respects more than any other. Ben refuses to believe Erica is working for the enemy...even if the rest of the CIA does.
His mission: prove Erica is not a double agent working against the US, locate a fabled colonial-era insurgent group, figure out what their devious plot is, and thwart it."
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9 Spy School At Sea Spy School At Sea
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2021

"Thanks to the evidence Ben uncovered in his investigation of the Croatoan, the CIA has tracked his nemesis, Murray Hill, to Central America, where they believe he is boarding the world’s biggest cruise ship, The Emperor of the Seas, on its maiden voyage around the world. His mission: Pose as part of a family, with Alexander and Catherine Hale as his parents, Erica as his sister, and his best friend Mike as his brother, to find out what Murray is plotting."
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10 Spy School Project X Spy School Project X
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2022

"Ben Ripley’s longtime nemesis, Murray Hill, has put a price on Ben’s head and accused him of being at the center of a conspiracy on the internet. Now Ben finds himself in his greatest danger yet, on the run from both assassins and conspiracy theorists. Ben must find Murray before his machinations catch up to Ben—but with so much at stake, even some of Ben’s most trusted friends might not be at the top of their game, leaving Ben to be tested like never before."
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11 Spy School Goes North Spy School Goes North
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Copyright: 2023

"Ben Ripley and his friends are training in Alaska when Cyrus Hale is kidnapped by his old Russian nemesis. Ben, Erica, and the others mount a rescue mission, but events quickly spiral out of control in a plot involving the secret history of US-Russian relations, a young KGB agent with skills to rival Erica’s—and lots and lots of bears."
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Number of Stories:1
First Appearance:2022
Last Appearance:2022

1 Spy School: The Graphic Novel Spy School: The Graphic Novel
Published by Simon & Schuster
Contributors: Stuart Gibbs (writer), Anjan Sarkar (artist)
Copyright: 2022

"Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he’s already pegged his dream job: CIA or bust. Unfortunately for him, his personality doesn’t exactly scream “secret agent.” In fact, Ben is so awkward, he can barely get to school and back without a mishap. Because of his innate nerdiness, Ben is not surprised when he is recruited for a magnet school with a focus on science—but he’s entirely shocked to discover that the school is actually a front for a junior CIA academy. Could the CIA really want him?
Actually, no. There’s been a case of mistaken identity—but that doesn’t stop Ben from trying to morph into a supercool undercover agent, the kind that always gets the girl. And through a series of hilarious misadventures, Ben realizes he might actually be a halfway decent spy…if he can survive all the attempts being made on his life! With action-packed, eye-catching art, join Ben Ripley as he survives his first year at the Academy of Espionage."
Click here to read the story.


Ah, youth. Something I haven't seen in over a half century but I still remember it. Kinda. Mostly good memories, except I was a nerd. Just like Ripley though not as smart. And not accepted to a spy school. Which considering the things that happen to him, I'm kinda glad about.

This is obviously a young adult series but it is a hoot of one. It is definitely on the pricey side which is one huge downside but if I had a child of reading age who was the least bit interested in adventures, I would get at least one of these for him/her. Unfortunately for my wallet, chances are he/she would want the rest of the books, too.


My Grade: B


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