(Cover picture courtesy of Infinitas Bookshop.)
When an investigation into a series of mysterious deaths leads agents to an elite prep school for rebellious kids, MI6 assigns Alex Rider, fourteen-year-old reluctant spy, to the case. Before he knows it, Alex is stuck in a remote boarding school high atop the Swiss Alps with the sons of the rich and powerful, and something feels wrong. Very wrong. These former juvenile delinquents have turned well-behaved, studious—and identical—overnight. It’s up to Alex to find out who is masterminding this evil plot, before they find him. The clock is ticking—is Alex’s luck about to run out?
You honestly can’t accuse Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series of being completely original. In fact, it has a few allusions to James Bond, which anyone who has watched Octopussy can tell you. Smithers, the man who supplies all of Alex’s gadgets, was named after the man in Q’s makeshift office in India during that movie. The plots of the books take elements from James Bond movies, but Horowitz never strays anywhere near plagiarism. In fact, he puts his own spin on the familiar franchise.
Alex Rider is not a great character by any stretch of the mind, but he is not a complete cardboard cutout either. He really doesn’t want to put his life on the line again after the events of Stormbreaker, but is once again manipulated into spying for MI6. This time, the stakes are even higher and Alex is in more danger than ever before. Anthony Horowitz keeps his descriptions at just the right length to convey this concept and creates an aura of suspense throughout the novel. Really, this is a book that deserves its place at the top of YA literature for boys. It’s basically a less violent, less sexual James Bond series for young male readers.
I give this book 4/5 stars.