From the book jacket: Shot outside the
offices of MI6 and left for dead by Scorpia, Alex Rider awakens
in a top-secret hospital, glad simply to be alive. But danger
has a way of following Alex, and when the boy in the next room
is the victim of a kidnapping attempt, it is Alex who saves
himonly to be kidnapped himself. The man behind the kidnapping?
None other than Nikolei Drevin, wealthiest developer in the
world, and the man who single-handedly is funding the first
luxury hotel in outer space, Ark Angel. Yet the project is
hemorrhaging millions of dollars along the way, and Drevin will
stop at nothing to cease the bleeding. Even if it means blowing
up Ark Angel. Even if it means sacrificing his only son. . . .
Comment: Resurrecting an apparently dead main character is a tried and true technique for keeping fans on their toes - it worked for Arthur Conan Doyle, and it's been pretty effective for Anthony Horowitz too. 15-year old Alex rider, the youngest of MI6's spies, was left for dead at the end of the fifth Alex Rider book, Scorpia, but, thanks to a robust constituency and the immortality gene built into every super-hero he finds himself on the mend and ready to be released from an exclusive private London hospital in a matter of weeks. He's busily brushing up on his French homework and looking forward to getting back to his school chums when adventure comes a-calling in the form of a dastardly band of eco-terrorists.
The Alex Rider books are immensely popular in Britain and are becoming increasingly so overseas. Alex is a jolly decent sort who's never issued with any lethal weapons but still manages to disarm everyone in his path while keeping up with his studies. Ark Angel is his biggest adventure to date - a Moonraker-esque adventure involving a Russian mobster and a space-hotel. The series is a great choice for pre-teens, especially boys - with enough action-adventure for even the most reluctant reader. From an adult point of view, the characters come across as a little one-dimensional, the bad guys are really, really bad, and the good guys are usually easy to distinguish by their good looks and all-round nice guy personas - but that didn't stop us having great fun reading it aloud with the children - stopping every time Alex got into an inescapable predicament to brainstorm how we could get out of such a situation but never managing to come up with anything quite as inventive as Alex.
Hardened fans of the series might also be interested to know about the recently released Alex Rider: The Gadgets, with details and diagrams of the various gadgets that Alex has been issued with during the series to date.
The series to date
2. Point Blanc (2001)
3. Skeleton Key (2002)
4. Eagle Strike (2003)
5. Scorpia (2004)
6. Ark Angel (2005)
7. Snakehead (USA & UK simultaneous release: Nov 2007)
This review was originally published in May 2006, and has been updated for the April 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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