Spies are great currency for exciting storylines, but few authors manage to successfully concoct realistic scenarios for a willing readership expecting chases, gunshots and thrills aplenty. In the first of what could easily become his most memorable series of novels to date, Anthony Horowitz has added a tongue-in-cheek quality to Stormbreaker that lifts it above several others in the same genre.
Horowitz knows that his main character, 14-year-old Alex Rider, is a normal teenager and he never forgets this when he thrusts his young hero into the thick of several truly edge-of-seat scenarios. There is humour alongside the action too--some great characters and cutting one-liners--that helps to ensure that entertainment is high on the agenda throughout.
Orphan Alex thought he knew his Uncle Ian Rider--until the elusive banker is killed in a tragic car accident. Immediately, Alex's life starts to get stranger by the day as his guardian's friends and colleagues start showing up and contradicting everything Alex thought he knew about the man he'd called Dad for so long. Maybe Ian Rider was not a banker after all? Surely the bullet holes in his Uncle's totalled car reveal that he had not died in an accident, but was murdered? Everything is explained when Alex decides to track down Ian Rider's real employers, but Alex is in for a surprise when they decide to contact him. The truth is hard to take, but maybe by following in his uncle's secret footsteps he might get the chance for revenge.
Apart from a slightly over-the-top finale involving a helicopter and the roof of London's Science Museum, Stormbreaker is a refreshingly energetic yarn that is required reading for fans of the contemporary thriller. --John McLay