Wednesday, 24 July 2013
Book review: Alex Rider books one to five by Anthony Horowitz
You'll notice from the title of this blog post that this is technically not a book review, it's a review of multiple books.
What can I say? I started reading Stormbreaker, the first book in Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, and before I knew it I was at the end of the fifth, Scorpia. I'd be at the end of the last, but I don't own the rest of the series.
Fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds himself working for MI6 after his uncle Ian, a British spy, dies. Down in Cornwall, he's to infiltrate the world of Herod Sayle, a multi-billionaire businessman who's about to launch Stormbreaker into every school in the country, and his motives aren't good.
Alex is MI6's best weapon - no one suspects a 14-year-old of being a spy, and when they do, Alex somehow always manages to find his way out of whatever scrape he's in. That's why MI6 keep using him, despite Alex's reluctance.
The Alex Rider books are highly entertaining, as entertaining as they are ridiculous. I mean that in a good way. There is no way Alex would be able to get himself out of trouble all those times, but somehow he does - whether it's inescapable prison cells, hoards of soldiers armed with machine guns or a hot air balloon floating above London while an assassin throws knives at him, Alex always manages to get away.
It would be really, really unrealistic (the books also all take place within weeks of each other), if only Horowitz clearly hadn't put so much research into everything. Every single aspect of the novels seems to be meticulously researched, so much so that you find yourself ready to believe everything, if only because the evidence to back up Alex's escapes is there.
The line-up of villains Alex encounters are brilliant, and the easiest way to describe them is to say they're out of a James Bond film. They're all slightly mad (at the very least) and over-the-top, but terrifying because of that.
As a character, Alex is appealing. He's a realistic teenage voice, and it's interesting to watch his development over the course of the books from child to super-spy. And when a bombshell is dropped in Eagle Strike and the game changes again, Alex is taken with it and develops even more.
Reading the books, I was slightly surprised that Horowitz hadn't been asked to write the Young Bond books, but I guess it's because Alex Rider is already a young Bond, so Horowitz would just have been rewriting this series.
If you're after adventure, adventure and more adventure, the Alex Rider series is for you. I'm off to hunt down the other novels.