by First Mate Keira

Title: C.Y.A.: The Case of Tangled Love (A Covert Youth Agency Novel, Book 1)
Author: Jason Ancona
Format: Digital ebook
Page Count: 258 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 8-14

Summary: The Covert Youth Agency (C.Y.A.) is the brainchild of Peter “Pi” Samuels (sophomore), a kid born on March 14 (which explains the math nickname 3.14). He and his two friends, Delilah Lightman aka “Lightman” (a freshman) and Ben “Tollhouse” Gaw (sophomore), are the club’s only members. Together they use their skills to solve the problems of Trenton High School Students. Their newest case is one of tangled love, where Vera, Pi’s crush, wants to know if her boyfriend Jack “JackO” Orton cheated on her at a party.

Why I started this book:

The author offered a review copy.


  • All three main characters are fun, quirky, and intelligently drawn. I don’t always agree with the vernacular used (on the rag) but I find their thoughts, narration, and communication funny.
  • Pi in particular is very noble. I am proud of his final decisions regarding The Case of Tangled Love and Operation Jack Attack.
  • Ancona’s updated high school stereotypes: PDAs – Prescription Drug Addicts, Duhs – Diligent Underachievers, Big Sticks – Jocks (lacrosse and hockey in particular), Noble Nerds – The Underdogs, Indies – Independents,  Reality Show Wannabes – Popular Girls.
  • The C.Y.A. spy techniques and adventures. Super cute and occasionally filled with disasters that require some epic strategizing to pull off… I’m thinking of the golf cart here. Haha.


  • The party crowd/scene. How are they getting access to that much alcohol? Or the PDAs and all those “legal drugs”? I was disappointed in Tollhouse for succumbing to peer pressure to fit in and drink to the point of vomiting. Gross.
  • Deeks and the jocks hazing of the nerds. Yikes! Here’s hoping the C.Y.A. nips that in the butt and soon. I smell a new case.

Final Thoughts: The use of pop culture will make the books accessible for kids now, but might limit and date the books in the future.

Buy: C. Y. A.: Covert Youth Agency: The Case of Tangled Love

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests