Alex Rider – Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz (MG)

 

The world’s greatest teen spy is back in action in a thrilling new mission: destroy once and for all the terrorist organization SCORPIA. 
Following the events of Scorpia Rising, Alex relocates to San Francisco as he slowly recovers from the tragic death of his best friend and caregiver, Jack Starbright, at the hands of terrorists working for SCORPIA. With Jack gone, Alex feels lost and alone, but then, out of the blue, he receives a cryptic email–just three words long, but enough to make Alex believe that Jack may be alive. Armed with this shred of hope, Alex boards a flight bound for Egypt and embarks on a dubious quest to track Jack down. 
Yet SCORPIA knows Alex’s weakness. And the question of whether Jack is alive soon takes a backseat to a chilling new terrorist plot-one that will determine the lives of many. 
From Egypt to France to Wales, from luxury yachts to abandoned coal mines, Alex traverses a minefield of dangers and cryptic clues as he fights to discover the truth. The #1 New York Times bestselling series, perfect for fans of James Bond, Jason Steed and Jason Bourne, is back with a vengeance!

 

When Stormbreaker was published in 2001, I was the target audience: a 13 year old kid. So to say I’m obsessed with this series would be an understatement. It has had an influence on my own early writing, full of kids running around doing crazy things in semi-realistic situations!

Alex Rider was the hero that a young reader wants to be: a secret agent trained in every field of espionage skills who travels round the world outsmarting bad guys. I’ve followed the series all the way through Alex working for/with MI6, to his turning his back on MI6 in favour of the ultimately evil organisation SCORPIA, and back again to the devastating conclusion of Scorpia Rising.

In Never Say Die, Anthony Horowitz brings us back to the world of Alex just a few months after Scorpia Rising. There’s no trace of series fatigue here; in fact the break seems to have given Horowitz a chance to give new life to his most famous character. Horowitz knows what he’s doing here and seems to relish throwing Alex into ever more dangerous and bonkers scenarios.

Alex propels himself on a personal crusade to chase that which seemed lost and Horowitz delivers action set-piece after set-piece with breathtaking abandon. As well as that, we have another brilliant villain or in this case villains in the shape of the Grimaldi brothers, twins operating pretty much as a single entity. They have a suitably notorious history and a suitably nefarious scheme that Alex finds himself having to stop.

There are several stand-out scenes, cinematic in their writing and preposterous in their execution. Chief among those is undoubtedly a sequence along an English motorway which builds and builds as it pulls you into the pages.

The story moves along at a brisk pace as you’d expect, with several countries across three continents covered with ease, and the ingenuity of gadgets and quick thinking are to the forefront.

Throughout, Horowitz leaves clues for you to figure out Alex’s next move in any given sticky spot, but buries it deep enough that the ultimate pay-off often brings a smile to your face.

A brilliant return to an absorbing series. Alex is certainly one of the busier teenagers I’ve read about. More please!

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