Publisher: Puffin Books (February, 2006) Reprinted 2015
Kindle edition: $8.99
Age appropriate: Teen & Young adult – Adult
Alex Rider Spy series (Book 1)
by Larry Jung
STORMBREAKER is the first book in the bestselling young adult (YA) series featuring the 14- year-old spy Alex Rider. At 19 million copies in print, the Alex Rider series compares favorably with the YA Harry Potter books for young readers. First published in 2001, STORMBREAKER opens with the death of Alex Rider’s uncle and guardian Ian Rider in a so-called car accident. From the start, Alex feels something is not right about his uncle’s death. The police say Ian Rider was not wearing his seat belt. But Ian Rider was a stickler about seat belts. All the adults in authority seem to be lying. Alex decides to see the so-called wreck of his uncle’s BMW for himself. MI6 is covertly watching Alex.
With some sharp observations and clever deduction, Alex finds the breakers yard where Ian Rider’s BMW was taken. Alex, on his own and without telling anyone, goes to see for himself the wrecked BMW. What he finds supports his mistrust of what the authorities have told him and nearly costs him his life in the process.
Before Alex can absorb what he has discovered, he finds himself being recruited by MI6 to spy for them! The British Secret Service needs Alex to investigate Herod Sayle, an extremely wealthy businessman and owner of Sayle’s Enterprise. Sayle, an immigrant from Lebanon and self-made man, is donating to the secondary schools in the UK the revolutionary Stormbreaker computer. The Prime Minister himself will symbolically bring the thousands of Stormbreaker computers online at a big ceremony in London in two weeks time. MI6 suspects Herod Sayle is up to no good. A spy was infiltrated into Sayle’s Industrial park to find out more information. Unfortunately he was discovered and killed. That spy was Ian Rider.
Anthony Horowitz makes a direct hit with the 14-year-old British spy, Alex Rider. Alex is the quintessential English hero. He is a likable teenager, is good at sports, plays on his Nintendo, and is happy. He is not on drugs, not depressed, has no chips-on-his-shoulder. Though an orphan, he has a normal life with his uncle Ian Rider and their American housekeeper Jack Starbright. If anything, Alex is a reluctant hero. But when it counts, he takes personal responsibility for those he cares for and charges into action. His sense of justice does not allow him to ignore wrong doing, even when it puts his life in jeopardy. Like all good action stories, there needs to be a worthy villain. Herod Sayle is just that villain. He is outlandish, larger-than-life, with a chip-on-his-shoulder. He lives a lavish life-style and even keeps a giant jelly fish as a pet.
The plot is fun-filled escapism. There are plenty of twists and surprises along the way. Horowitz is a master of the cliffhanger at the end of chapters. He has written wonderful action sequences and created memorable characters. We root for Alex as he barely escapes from the bad guys because Alex is clever, determined, and self-reliant.
If you liked the James Bond books by Ian Fleming, you will enjoy STORMBREAKER. Don’t be put off by the young adult category. The action and violence are a PG-13 rating and appropriate for “James Bond” as a teenager. As an added bonus, Horowitz makes plenty of allusions to Fleming’s books for fans of the James Bond books.
So far, there are 10 books in the Alex Rider series. You can start with any of the books, but I recommend starting the adventure with STORMBREAKER, the first Alex Rider thriller.
NOTE: Sony and Eleventh Hour Films have teamed up to bring to TV an eight part adaptation of POINT BLANC, the second Alex Rider book. There is no airing date at this time.
The Alex Rider Series:
POINT BLANK (2002)
SKELTON KEY (2003)
EAGLE STRIKE (2004)
ARK ANGEL (2006)
CROCODILE TEARS (2011)
SCORPIA RISING (2012)
RUSSIAN ROULETTE: THE STORY OF AN ASSASSIN (2014)
NEVER SAY DIE (2018)
Copyright © 2018 Larry Jung. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!