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Crocodile Tears (Alex Rider) Paperback – November 16, 2010
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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About the Author
Anthony Horowitz, in addition to being an international bestselling author, is also the writer and creator of the multi-award-winning television series Foyle’s War. He lives in London, England. Visit him online at www.alexrideradventures.com and www.anthonyhorowitz.com or follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHorowitz.
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After all, Alex is my favorite teen spy, and the one that truly kicked off a lot of the action-packed series that have since jumped on board. For the uninitiated, and with the books selling in the millions of copies so I can't believe there can be many of those left, Alex is a fourteen year old boy who lives in London and sometimes works with MI-6, Great Britain's version of the CIA. They love using him because he's young and generally slides beneath the radar of the bad guys. But Alex is a totally hardcore when it comes to martial arts and feats of derring-do.
Usually Alex gets recruited into a mission for MI-6 through some bit of backhanded blackmail, but in this one he inadvertently steps afoul of Desmond McCain (our villain) and ends up first in the sights of a sharpshooter, then at the eye of the storm McCain unleashes on him. The fact that Alex involved himself in so much of the bad guy's overall plot was different, and it makes sense given that Alex is the kind of kid that he is. Most boys his age wouldn't walk away from a mystery or a grievance either, and would look for ways to strike back.
The action in this one is over-the-top stuff that would make great cinematography. Hopefully someone will again pick up the Alex Rider film franchise and give it another go. The series really deserves that, and this would be an excellent story to film from.
Another facet of the stories that I enjoy is the science that goes into the bad guys' plots. In Crocodile Tears, it's genetically modified foods and the threat they pose to Third World countries, as well as to the rest of the planet. The plot doesn't bog down with heavy explanations, but there's enough there to send curious young readers (and possibly older ones) scurrying to Wikipedia or the Internet for answers.
Strangely, the spy gizmos in this novel seem to be toned down. There really isn't much here from Smithers, and quite frankly I was a bit disappointed. I love when Smithers takes the stage, because it's quite a lot like dealing with Q in the lab in one of the James Bond films. Usually Smithers does a lot with designing hardware for Alex that looks like teen-centric stuff.
Overall, I was really happy with the book. The action flowed quite nicely, and the dangerous parts were exciting. I loved the rooftop race with the ductwork and the time when Alex hung suspended over the hungry crocodiles.
Horowitz has maintained that Alex would never be older than fourteen and be a spy. At the end of this book, Alex's fifteenth birthday is only a few days away. I really don't want the series to end and I hope that Alex gets suited back up once more really soon.
Alex soon finds himself working for MI6 once again, spun up into a heart-racing story about the teenage spy. I was eager to keep reading the book, finishing it in two days. Any of you who seek action should definitely read this book.
"Crocodile Tears" is the latest and most thrilling entry into the world of 14-year-old secret agent Alex Rider. That's not a typo--Alex is indeed a secret agent and, in fact, was trained from early childhood to assume the role (although he didn't know at the time). He continues to work (for free) for England's M16. I must rephrase: He is tricked into missions for M16. His parents died when he was very young; his Uncle Ian assumed guardianship. Both father and uncle were agents. Ian taught Alex how to do so many practical things (that would later save his life times over), speak several languages, handle foreign travel. On the other hand, one could say that being a secret agent was a genuine talent for Alex, much as painting or music is to others. Being flexible is one ingrained "talent." An example: To escape a particular mountaintop location Alex had to improvise. The only way out was helicopter with none available. He used an ironing board to "sled" down the mountain. Another time he skateboarded down a pier and over and onto a departing boat, barely making the landing, but, of course, always making it.
In every book there is at least one villain, usually two working jointly to commit mayhem, fraud, evil, and violence on many innocent, unsuspecting people. In "Crocodile Tears" Desmond McCain is the villain--philanthropist extraordinaire and bad to the bone marrow! He is the organizer and disperser of millions of dollars that come into his relief agency which goes from hot spot to hot spot to aid people in dire circumstances. The first is a nuclear reactor explosion in India. First on the scene. How great Mr. McCain is! How compassionate! However, the tears he sheds are crocodile tears.
Normally, I don't read reviews before I write mine, but I did this time. Mixed reactions. I agree with those who call this a page-turner, a must-read-long-into-the-night. I did, too. (Not too long ago I read Mark Twain's "Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (Dover Thrift Editions) and could not read more than a few pages at time before falling asleep.) With "Crocodile Tears"--I read WAY PAST my normal bedtime. Anthony Horowitz knows how to write a thriller!
Other reviewers called this book the worst of the series. On what scale? By what standard? I do agree that the series is taking on a formulaic format, although this book, for the first time, shows human heart in Mr. Blunt, Alex's handler. In previous books he exudes complete indifference to any fate that might happen to Alex, or that is how it seems.
Another reviewer called Horowitz on the horrible women who people his books in his female villainy. But I remind those readers that Alex's girlfriend is quite genuine and kind, that his guardian (a woman just a few years older than Alex) is a perfect role model for any young lady.
What I do protest and the reason I deduct one star is the really over-the-top escapades Alex must experience and, of course, escape. On one hand, I recognize that it IS possible to escape from all these bizarre circumstances, but, on the other hand, not so many and not so likely. They are just TOO incredible in this book. One example at the beginning--that obviously Alex must escape if the story is to continue-- (SPOILER!) is his escape from a Nissan that crashes over a rail on a steep mountain and into a deep, dark loch in the middle of night. Not only does he rescue himself, but he saves his girlfriend's father--all in freezing water. Then miraculously someone is right there to take them to a hospital for hypothermia.
But really, I don't care how extreme the circumstances. Horowitz is a rare and talented writer who can put words and plot lines together to make a reader want to read. That's worthy of recognition and respect. His books may not become classics, but they will endure to take down for a thrill ride when one is old and in the rocking chair and in need of a little action.
Most recent customer reviews
Lots of action and stuff my dude
My name jeff