Sunday, August 9, 2009
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Series: Alex Rider
Rating: 1/5 stars
What if James Bond had been a fourteen-year-old kid? Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz answers that question with its main character, Alex Rider. Alex is a normal boy, living with his uncle in London, England. But one day, his uncle is killed in a car crash, and the facts just don't add up. Alex begins asking questions and sneaking around, trying to get to the bottom of what really happened. When meeting with his uncle's boss at Royal and Crown, he finds out the truth. His uncle wasn't a bank manager, he was an MI6 agent, and he wasn't killed in a car crash, he was killed while on assignment. Eager to complete Ian Rider's mission, they send his nephew out into the field.
Released in September of 2000, Stormbreaker is the first novel in a series of spy novels featuring fourteen-year-old, Alex Rider. The novel and all sequels are published by Walker Books. Stormbreaker appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, topping off at #1 for children's series. On July 21, 2006, a film adaption was released, staring Alex Pettyfer at Alex Rider.
As a whole, the novel isn't well written. The author prefers "telling" over showing. Instead of using detail and the senses to give the reader information, he uses what are referred to as "info dumps." Which are basically blocks of information that are vital to the storyline, but the author couldn't think of a way to give you that information so they just tell it all to you. Instead of letting you feel the actions, and make it realistic, Horowitz just says "Alex rider did this. The bad guy did that." It's very boring and unentertaining.
The novel isn't realistic either - the idea of a government agency sending an untrained child on itself if unbelievable. Even in the most desperate of situations, sending in someone untrained is suicide, sending in an untrained child is suicide plus a public riot. Not to mention the "gadgets" Alex receives. Some of them are plausible, such as the yo-yo or even the "zit cream". But the fake GameBoy is just pathetic. Having a computer appear as a GameBoy to transmit images is believable, but having that same computer turn into an x-ray machine just by switching out cartridges is not.
The plot is also predictable. Everyone can easily see what's coming next - it's a straight forward novel with no real twists and turns in it. It's a classic happy, nothing can happen to the main character, ending. It's important for a novel to keep the reader engaged with plot twists, but this novel is one of those books you pick up and know the ending after reading two chapters.
Though not well written, this novel paved the way for similar books. The Young James Bond series, written by Charlie Higson, came out in March of 2005. Fledgling Jason Steed, written by Mark A. Cooper, came out in September of 2008. The novel also spawned several sequel all featuring Alex Rider.
Overall, the book is good for a young child who wouldn't question anything. For an older child or an adult, the novel is very poor quality. Between being poorly written, and not being very realistic, this is definitely not an "all ages" novel. It would be best for someone eight-years-old and under, maybe even younger.