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195 of 200 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A parent's review (contains spoilers)
I am coming late to the Alex Rider series as my oldest son is only seven. This is the second Alex Rider book that I've read, for the purpose of understanding when my spy-obsessed son might be old enough to start reading the series.

I enjoyed reading this book. It obviously lacks the complexity and depth of a book written for adults, but it is still a fast paced...
Published on December 9, 2007 by Julia Flyte

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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All brain, no heart.
When I first read this book, I was a lot younger and I didn't demand a great deal from my stories. Hence I fell absolutely in love with this story with it's fast-paced, movie-styled approach to writing. However, when I look back on it now with a more critical eye, the whole story was actually a well dressed-up formula which leaves little room for character development,...
Published on April 22, 2006 by TheDarkPrince


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195 of 200 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A parent's review (contains spoilers), December 9, 2007
This review is from: Stormbreaker (Alex Rider) (Paperback)
I am coming late to the Alex Rider series as my oldest son is only seven. This is the second Alex Rider book that I've read, for the purpose of understanding when my spy-obsessed son might be old enough to start reading the series.

I enjoyed reading this book. It obviously lacks the complexity and depth of a book written for adults, but it is still a fast paced and enjoyable thriller that borrows heavily on the James Bond and Mission Impossible franchises. Alex Rider makes a likable hero who is brave, tenacious and resourceful.

I would feel comfortable giving it to my son to read when he's a little older - my gut feel is 9-10 years would be about right. He still needs to strengthen his reading skills (words like interrogation, hyperventilating, cloying, claustrophobic and exquisite are typical), but also to develop the maturity to cope with a plot that involves a fair amount of violence (the book opens with the death of Alex's uncle and bad guys get shot on a regular basis).

Here are some things that parents may like to know about this book:
- The storyline is reasonably simple and the bad guy/good guy lines are clearly drawn.
- Violence is not described in overly graphic detail, but it does occur throughout the book. Alex fires a gun twice and hits a bad guy on one occasion. He also causes the death of another villain by causing a plane crash.
- There is no swearing or bad language.
- There is a noticeable absence of positive female characters (unless you count the housekeeper who barely appears). There is a reference by the MI5 (the English equivalent of the FBI) regarding female agents predominantly being of use if you need to slip someone in as a secretary or receptionist.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This isn't just another YA book!, April 28, 2004
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I don't remember how I got hooked on the Alex Rider Adventure books, but I'm glad I did. Alex is an unusual fourteen-year-old with many skills: he is fluent in French, Spanish, and German...has the ability to drive a Quad...a Blackbelt in karate...can play snooker like Minnesota Fats plays pool...and has a nose for danger...AND a sense of humor! He usually finds himself up against the wealthiest, nastiest, cold-blooded villains this side of James Bond. Alex is also the youngest special agent MI6 (British Intelligence) has ever had. Put all that and more in a fast-paced, action-packed, page-turner of a novel and you can't lose. Mr. Horowitz has developed a likeable and interesting hero. I hope he continues writing more of these wonderful books. I think adults would enjoy reading about Alex, too.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartpounding Action and Heartstopping Suspense!!, July 30, 2002
A Kid's Review
Story: Alex Rider, a 14 year old boy, wakes up only to find that his uncle, who he was staying with and like a father to him, is dead. The police say it was a car accident. Alex doesn't buy it though. The obvious damage and bullet holes in the car his uncle was in at the time prove something's wrong with the police's story. Why would they lie though? Why would anyone want to kill a bank manager? Alex finds out more than he asked for. His uncle was working for a military intelligence called MI6. He was a "secret agent" as you might say. Now Alex has to summon all his courage to complete his uncle's final mission. In his adventure, he finds himself trapped many times. How will he get out? During the entire book, many questions race through the reader and Alex's minds. Why was there any need for his uncle to die? What did he discover? What will Alex discover? And more importantly, will Alex have to die too for what he finds?
Comments: This was a very suspenseful and action-filled book. There was truly hardly a boring moment. Nearly every minute of the book was full of heartpounding action and shocking heartstopping suspense. There can be some confusion to some, but other than that, it can also explain things rather well. The plot is excellent, full of unexpected twists and turns, but not as good as the action and the way the book is written. Right when you think it's over, it's not. It's impossibly hard to guess what happens next. You're literally at the edge of your seat by the 3rd chapter! If not at the 3rd chapter, somewhere else in the book! I'd say it was one of the most exciting, suspenseful, and non-boring books I've ever read. Stormbreaker is a mix of James Bond, Alias, and a mystery. Good mixure indeed. Read it today!!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shaken AND Stirred, July 25, 2002
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When fourteen year-old Alex Rider hears of his uncle's tragic death in an auto accident, he becomes immediately suspicious. Ian Rider had been a banker, a very careful man. He was also Alex's only living relative. Following up on his uncle's car, Alex discovers that the car is at a junkyard and is sporting dozens of bullet holes and blood on the seats that proves his uncle was murdered. So who killed Ian Rider and covered the act up? And why? Alex's quest for the truth introduces him to Alan Blunt, a spymaster for Great Britain's MI6 espionage agency. Caught while seeking further information, Alex is blackmailed by Blunt into becoming the youngest spy to ever work for MI6. Herod Sayles, a multi-millionaire, is giving away thousands of his newest computer, Stormbreaker, to the children of London's schools. Ian Rider was investigating the man and those machines when he was killed. If Alex doesn't agree to undertake the mission, Blunt promises that he will be sent off to an orphan's home, and that his housekeeper, Jack Starbright, will be deported back to America. Before he can adjust to getting blackmailed, Alex is sent on a three-week crash course training with SAS commandos. Yanked out of training, Alex is thrown headlong into the grinning jaws of death where he will meet a spectacular array of villains, including Mr. Grin who has had his face disfigured during a throwing knife accident in a circus, and a huge jellyfish.
Anthony Horowitz is a successful writer of novels and television shows. His second Alex Rider novel, POINT BLANK, is out this year. In addition, he's written historical thrillers, THE SINISTER SECRET OF FREDERICK K. BOWER and THE DEVIL AND HIS BOY. He's also written a series of books involving the FIVE including THE DEVIL'S DOOR-KNOB, NIGHT OF THE SCORPION, and THE SILVER CITADEL. His work for television lists scripts for POIROT and MIDSOMER NIGHTS, and he has created his own television show, MURDER IN MIND.
STORMBREAKER is an exciting, easy to read, and hard to put down novel. The breakneck pace of the story draws the reader on, and the simple use of the language to convey the story make it that much easier to read just one more page, and another, and another. However, the simple writing evokes full images, cast and settings. And there are twists and turns aplenty in the story. Alex is very likeable, and he's very much like James Bond must have been at that age. Not only is he quick and mildly sardonic, but he gets equipped with a cutting-edge tech GameBoy equipped with spygear, zit cream that eats through metal, and a yo-yo that doubles as a winch, serving him as well as Spider-Man's weblines.
Even though the pace is driving and the descriptions are wonderful, the book could have used a little more dialogue. The dialogue that the author uses is pretty much spot-on, but more of it was needed.
STORMBREAKER is an excellent read for anyone interested in action adventure novels and spy stories.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You're Never Too Young to Die...", July 9, 2007
By 
R. M. Fisher "Ravenya" (New Zealand = Middle Earth!) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
After a friend recommended the Alex Rider books, and the movie adaptation pricked my interest, I settled down with "Stormbreaker", the first of what is (currently) a six-book series. Alex is a fourteen year old English schoolboy who wakes early one morning to find that Ian Rider, his uncle and guardian since his parents' deaths, has been killed in a car accident. It's not long before the truth emerges: Ian wasn't a banker at all, but a high-ranking spy for MI6 who was killed in the line of duty. Now Alex himself has been asked to fill his uncle's shoes, as a lifetime of mountain-climbing, foreign languages, martial arts training and other unusual activities suddenly becomes clear to the young teen.

Ian had been undercover as a security guard at Sayle Enterprises, the company of a Lebanese businessman named Herod Sayle who plans to ship out thousands of cutting-edge computers to schools all around Britain. It sounds like the gift of a great philanthropist, but MI6 are suspicious and Ian's death only confirms their fears. Where does Alex fit into all this? The first prize in a Sayle-run competition is for a young girl or boy to be the first to try out the new Stormbreaker computer, and MI6 want Alex to take the place of the *real* competition winner in order for him to do some snooping. Alex has no choice - if he doesn't comply, the government will deport his beloved housekeeper Jack Starbright back to the United States.

So undercover he goes, armed with some clever gadgets (a zit cream that melts through metal, a yo-yo with a nylon string and a rather extraordinary game boy) in order to investigate the strange individual that is Herod Sayle (who comes complete with dangerous pets, larger-than-life henchmen, and a tragic back-story of his own).

When attention turned from boy-wizards to spy-kids after the success of Robert Rodriguez's movie Spy Kids, the market was suddenly flooded with demands for high-tech, fast-paced, savvy young spies, as seen with the likes of Kim Possible, Agent Cody Banks, the X's and so on. The story may not even be remotely plausible, but Anthony Horowitz has successfully jumped onto the spy-kids bandwagon and run wild with it. Alex is a smart, likeable kid and the plot so breathlessly fast-paced that any discrepancies in the story are effortlessly glossed over. The villains are villainous, the evil plot is nefarious, and the henchmen have names like Nadia Vole and Mr Grin (thanks to a knife-throwing accident at the circus, he sports a scar that pulls his face into a perpetual smile) - what more can you want? With practically every chapter ending on a cliff-hanger, this is a perfect book to try out on a reluctant reader.

If there is one thing that bothered me slightly, it's that Alex is a little too good to be true. I brought the martial arts and the physicality of the teenager, but when Alex bests Sayle in a snooker game or spouts a reel of computer jargon to Mr Blunt, my suspension of disbelief was stretched somewhat. Oh come on, I hear you say - in a story filled with giant jellyfish, submarines and teenage espionage, what's the big deal? In my opinion, it's fine - no, *necessary* - that in a book like this there are wild plot turns, but it needs to be balanced with a grounded, realistic protagonist that the reader can relate to. Alex makes too few mistakes during the course of the story (there are a few slips of the tongue, but nothing too serious) and at times displays superhuman skills, all of which distance him a little from the average reader. Looking at our culture's typical heroes, our favourites always seem to be the ones that slip up now and then, chastise themselves, have physical limits: Indiana Jones, John McClain, Batman - we like our heroes dark, fallible, and *human*. Am I expecting too much from a story that's meant to be pure entertainment? Probably, but it's also true that we never really get inside Alex's head, particularly as to his relationships with (what we suppose) are the two most important people in his life - Jack and Ian, and as such, he remains a little distant. However, this may change in future books, as it does seem that Horowitz is laying down seeds that will come to fruition in later books - I expect to see a lot more from Jack Starbright, Mrs Jones and Yassen Gregorovich (the Russian assassin that killed Ian Rider) in future books.

Other than that, I have little to complain about. The "Alex Rider" series is all set to be a great reading experience, and Point Blank (Alex Rider Adventures) is next on my reading list.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I want more......, June 28, 2001
A Kid's Review
Wow! This was a great book and I really enjoy it. Full of action and realistic people, places and things. Alex Rider is a believable character who gives James Bond a run for his money. I can't wait till the next book in this series comes out.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All brain, no heart., April 22, 2006
When I first read this book, I was a lot younger and I didn't demand a great deal from my stories. Hence I fell absolutely in love with this story with it's fast-paced, movie-styled approach to writing. However, when I look back on it now with a more critical eye, the whole story was actually a well dressed-up formula which leaves little room for character development, although the plot remained pretty intelligent nonetheless.

The story, stripped down to the nuts and bolts, was excellent. It twists and turns all over the place, leaving cryptic clues along the way, making the reader continually guess and more often than not be wrong. You're never totally sure who can or can't be trusted, who knows or doesn't know what, and there always seems to be another complication or innovation in the storyline lurking over the page. This book is your archetypical page turner, and you won't find yourself reaching for anything else before it's all over.

However, when you read into it in more depth, problems start to arise. The foremost of these is with the character development. The characters in the world of Alex Rider seem remarkably one-sided. For each of the characters in the story, there seems to be one description that fits them and their entire persona is built around that description. For example, Alan Blunt is emotionless, Smithers is jolly, Herod Sayle is temperamental, and so forth. By far the worst issues are with Alex himself. Where did a fourteen year old find the time to be so flawless? He's intelligent, athletic, brave, inquisitive, he has a black belt in Karate, he's multi-lingual... this can be slightly irritating for those of us with faults. What's more is that the majority of his speech seems to be made up of pseudo James Bond witticisms, which, although they might give us a laugh, give us very little insight into Alex as a person.

Another problem is that large portions of the plot seem unnecessary. While the book is 250 pages long, it could've been told in 150. There are often long action sequences which, although entertaining, add nothing to the story. It's almost as if "Stormbreaker" was written as a film script rather than a novel. I mean, at the end of the day, was it really necessary for Alex to get stuck in that car crusher? Didn't think so.

Altogether then, if you're looking for a book bulging with thrills and action, this is for you. If you want an insightful book with poetic meaning and charectarisation, avoid like the plague. "Stormbreaker" is ultimately a thrill ride with little depth.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spy Like No Other, February 25, 2006
Fourteen-year old Alex Rider knows something bad has happened when the doorbell rings in the middle of the night. He soon learns that his caretaker uncle, Ian Rider, was killed in an automobile accident on his way home. A banker who works for Royal & General, Alex's uncle was a fine man who wasn't home much--but he's still devastated by his death. Except the appearance of some strange people who claim to be his uncle's co-workers, a gun-toting man at his uncle's funeral, and the findings of his uncle's bullet-ridden car make Alex think that there's more than meets the eye to the "automobile accident" story.

Alex soons find out that his Uncle Ian's life, at least where he himself was concerned, was based on a lie. Ian Rider was a spy, employed by the Special Operations Divison of MI6. And the last case he was working on, concerning multi-millionaire Herod Sayle, was a case that got Ian Rider killed. Now Mr. Blunt and Mrs. Jones, head of SOD, want Alex to pick up where his uncle, their operative, left off--infiltrate the compound where Herod Sayle is building his new Stormbreaker computers, and find out what Ian Rider had to die for.

What follows is an action-packed story of danger, bullets, viruses, and out-and-out excitement. At fourteen, Alex is savvy, trained in martial arts, can speak multiple languages, and is, in fact, a truly bliddy good spy!

Anthony Horowitz has devised a real winner with Alex Rider and his new career (although he was actually forced into working for MI6), and I can't wait to read the next book in the series and see what mission Alex will be sent on next!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This got me readin!, February 26, 2009
this is a great book for all ages. this is especially great for reluctant young adult readers like i use to be. it is james bond for 10 to 15 year olds.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Thriller, July 20, 2007
By 
molly (california) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stormbreaker (Alex Rider) (Paperback)
"Stormbreaker" by Anthony Horowitz, is neither a masterpiece of writing nor a great, character-driven novel. But then, I wasn't expecting it to be. I was expecting a good, exciting thriller, and that's what I got.

Alex Rider has just received news of his uncle's suspicious death. He doesn't believe for a moment that Ian Rider didn't wear a seatbelt in his car accident -- his uncle was notoriously cautious. But he never guessed the truth -- that his uncle was a spy for the British government and was killed by a hit man working for the other side. His last mission is a desperate one, though, and MI6, the agency he worked for, has now commissioned Alex to finish it.

At times heartily implausible (like the end -- harpooning a plane? And managing not to fall as you're dragged by harpoon gun into the sky?), this novel is still pretty good. As I said before, it's no masterpiece, but again: it doesn't intend to be. It's supposed to be a light, easy, fast-paced, exciting read, and it does it quite well.

One thing, though, that really bothered me, was the treatment of Alex's reaction to his uncle's death. I don't care how distant your guardian is, you don't just "get over" the death of the person who has been your parent for fourteen years, especially not when you find out he was murdered. Alex even meets the murderer himself, in the end, and doesn't so much as get angry! I thought that this was probably the most unrealistic part of the whole book (even more than the harpoon-gun incident.)

A good thriller. 4 stars.

Rating: A toss-up between Average and Very Good
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Stormbreaker (Alex Rider)
Stormbreaker (Alex Rider) by Anthony Horowitz (Paperback - February 16, 2006)
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