Author: Anthony Horowitz
Nutshell: Alex Rider’s uncle is dead. Many nephews would not find this such a world-shaking revelation, but Rider’s uncle was his sole relative and guardian. Now, alone and a ward of the bank his uncle worked for, his world is about to get very different.
The bank is a front for MI6. The world is very different indeed.
Not only is Alex now a ward of a branch of MI6, they want him to pick up where his uncle left off. His age and lack of experience are bonuses, in their eyes. Nobody will suspect a teenager of being a spy. They can get him right to the heart of the villain’s lair. It will be perfect. And if he doesn’t, well, they’ll deport his housekeeper and only friend, and send him to a cheap, nasty boarding school. What’s a fourteen-year-old to do?
Readalikes: The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, any James Bond novel.
Everything I’ve read since Bluescreen has seemed a little dull. Stormbreaker is an older book, and the first in the series, which means its a little out of fashion and still finding its feet, especially as far as the primary character goes. That would be Alex, who is either nursing a strong case of shock through the entire novel or is just a little detached emotionally. This may not be intentional.
The plot is good, if a bit by-the-numbers. It feels very much like a scrubbed-clean (read: no naked ladies) James Bond story. But the combination of mystery and suspense is entertaining and cleanly built up to the reveal. The characters surrounding Alex Rider are definitely caricature-ized, but that’s standard for this format. And the villain and his henchmen are entertainingly slimy and wicked. If you’re looking for a not-too-gripping spy novel (and let’s cast aside the notion that a higher-stakes book is necessarily a better book; sometimes I like to read something where the ending is assured by the genre convention, even if the characters are not assured.) this is perfectly adequate for a few hours light reading.