Verdict: James Bond has nothing on this kid.
When 14 year old Alex Rider loses his uncle to a car accident, he’s puzzled by the police’s claim that Ian Rider wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. His uncle was always so particular about safety…
When Alex investigates, he’s thrown into a world he never wanted to know about; the world of spies. Ian Rider worked for MI6 and the ‘car accident’ was no accident – he was shot when his last mission went wrong.
Alex soon finds himself on that same mission – to investigate the Stormbreaker and the seemingly generous Mr Sayle. He only hopes that he doesn’t also meet the same fate.
This is the second time I’ve read this book, the first being whilst I was in secondary school. I loved it then and I’m pleased and relieved to find I love it still. Alex is a quick-witted, smart and talented kid who’s thrown into a situation he most certainly doesn’t want to be in. He’s motivated by loyalty and love, with a healthy dose of understandable curiosity.
As an introductory book, Stormbreaker is exactly what you want in a spy novel. Sharp, punchy and to the point, with many a page-turning cliffhanger. Horowitz knows what he’s doing and Alex Rider seems set to leave his older 007 counterpart firmly in the dust.
The plot progression skilfully timed, so that there’s never a dull moment. For such a short book, it’s downright masterful, actually. At times, the plot is ‘too’ convenient but, to be honest, it’s a children’s spy novel. Of course some of it will be convenient. And, on the whole, the narrative is so well pieced together that this hardly matters and is hardly noticeable either.
The villains are solid adversaries. The danger is real at every turn and Alex makes his feelings about that very clear. The explosive conclusion – from that scene with the zit-cream to the last page – is exactly what you want.
I re-read this at the same time as my nephew read it for the first time. He has immediately snatched up the sequel, and I won’t be too far behind.