This was an enjoyably dumb story. I’ve never played Infiltrator before, so this was my first experience with it. I think that I want to try it out now, or at least see if I have the game.
Well, I thought I wanted to play the NES game. After looking into it a bit more, I learned that we got the sequel on the NES. The original Infiltrator was on the 8-bit computers (C64, ZX Spectrum, Apple II, and Amstrad CPC).
There were several games on the NES that were sequels. They were renamed because the first game wasn’t released on the system. It is something strange that isn’t done anymore.
Anyway, the book is a loose retelling of the game’s plot. To begin with, there wasn’t a lot of story, so most of it had to be invented. It shows just how creative a person can take the threadbare plot of an 80s computer game and turn it into a fun book.
The plot of this book refuses to be resolved! It felt like it kept going on for no reason, but when I thought about it, I believe it follows how a video game plays. You beat one level by finding the poison, then you save the scientist, and finally, you blow up the enemy base.
That is an oversimplification of what happens, but it is what happens in the book. The world’s worst spy, Johnny McGibbits, is tasked to infiltrate an imaginary country ruled by someone called Mad Leader.
The Mad Leader is a super genius but looks funny, so he has to be evil. No one knows what he looks like, aside from the people who have read the book. He is supposed to be the big bad guy, but he isn’t in the book that much.
Chip is a sixteen-year-old kid who is fluent in every language. One of Johnny’s many powers is to learn anything language, but he doesn’t have the few hours he needs. This is why Chip is brought along. He can also unlock any lock. None of this is explained, but for a book like this, it doesn’t need to be described as far as I’m concerned.
Some other characters get names, but they don’t matter too much. They usually are just there to move the next mission forward. Only Johnny and Chip get any character development. I can’t believe that I’m caring about this in a book like this.
The book starts with Johnny being awesome when he gets a message from a CIA agent to go to the headquarters. He gets the message while playing a concert for the President of the US.
Then he gets his mission and meets Chip. I keep wanting to call him Chips, which isn’t his name but seems to make more sense to me. Anyway, they end up heading to a fictional country and have to identify themselves with other planes. This identification part is from the first game.
I thought this part was strange at first. After reading about the game, I think it is an excellent addition and ties the story closer to the actions you would do in the game. If they left it out, I wouldn’t have noticed, but knowing that it was part of the game, I think it is an excellent addition.
They eventually land and make their way into the fortress. Chip does come in handy, but it feels a bit forced or an attempt to insert some humor. At this point, I was already upset with Johnny and his horrific operational security to care that much. Not to mention how the CIA would send someone into the field without knowing the language! 😉
They trigger every damn alarm and act suspiciously as they neutralize the acid. They also get a secret message that they use along the way. A musician gives them the message by playing a song that Johnny created. I hate to keep hammering this, WORST, SPY, EVER!
They deal with the gas and then meet with a double agent who tells them they must rescue a scientist who created an invisibility pill. At first, I wondered why this jackass couldn’t neutralize the gas. It turns out he is evil but leads them to the scientist and tries to capture them. It backfires, and they end up escaping.
Once we hit this point in the book, I thought it was all over and wondered why there were twenty pages left. They must go back to stop nuclear missiles from being launched at several resort towns. This was the point that I started thinking the Mad Leader’s plans were beyond stupid. I couldn’t call them crazy; they were just ridiculous.
They stop the nuclear missiles with one second to spare because, of course, that is how it would play out! This is basically an action movie, after all.
Then the two of them blow the base up, Johnny meets the Mad Leader for a few seconds, and they go home. It is a fun story, even if it is a little dumb, and I was overthinking things that didn’t matter.
Why do we need Chip
The only reason I can see Chip being in the story is that the author is going for an odd couple pairing. It works very well! You have the more experienced spy who doesn’t want a partner and the overly energetic kid who looks up to the spy.
You have Johnny, who is more serious. He’s also a cocky asshole who is one bad day away from trying to take over the world, but he takes the job seriously. Then there is Chip, who is here because he can speak the local language and pick locks. Not sure why Johnny doesn’t know how to pick locks since he can do everything else!
He does do a few things to help. However, I feel he did more to get these two killed and/or trapped. Whenever he gets them into trouble, they are usually saved by Johnny or by some random event.
Chip was inserted to make the book feel like an odd pairing or to give the reader someone to connect with. It just felt strange to me that he was involved in the plot.
Regardless of how I feel about him, Chip has the same problem as Johnny at the end of the book. He gets up on stage and becomes known to the rest of the world. This pretty much ruins his chances of going undercover again.
Johnny McGibbits is the WORST spy
This guy shouldn’t be a spy. I’m overanalyzing this book, but there is no way this guy should be doing what he is doing.
He is a movie star; he has a very successful invention business, can build anything he wants, and is also a brilliant musician. I think everyone in the world probably knows who he is and what he looks like. There would be no way for him to sneak into some place undetected.
Also, he is supposed to infiltrate places and blend in. I don’t see how this is possible when he is so well known! In the first few chapters, it is shown how everyone knows him. I guess this was just the 90s, and the world was much smaller with no internet.
I did have fun reading this book. It is a goofy story that I shouldn’t have tried to analyze as much as I did. However, after working for an unnamed government agency, I thought more about spy books than I should be doing.
Like all of the Worlds of Power books, I wish the action scenes had gone on longer. It makes sense why things were done quickly since this one was supposed to be more grounded. Well, a video games reality.
If you get the chance, check this one out. It is a fun little story that would be good for a younger reader.