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on September 11, 2016
One night, only a few weeks ago, I was scrolling through the Alex Rider adventures on Amazon. I have been a die hard fan for years, and I was interested in completing my collection. Like many others, I'm sure, I was sad when the series ended with "Scorpia Rising."
Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw a section of the web page dedicated to "Alex Rider Books 1 - 10". After looking around, I saw that, indeed, Anthony Horowitz had decided to return to the world of MI6, Scorpia, spies, gadgets and the rest of it with "Russian Roulette : The Story of an Assassin." To say I was excited was an understatement. I ordered a copy, sat back, and waited.
Looking back, I wish I had done just a bit more homework. When the book arrived, I greedily tore it open - and then stood staring in dismay. Because it turned out Alex Rider, the fourteen year old super spy, wasn't coming back after all.
The book was a prequel.
Soon, I came around, and began to read.
I got over being disappointed very quickly.
"RR" opens up with a familiar face - the face of Yassen Gregororvich, the assassin who terminated Ian Rider in "Stormbreaker," which cast Alex into the spy world. In the beginning of the story, Yassen receives orders from his employers - Scorpia, one of the largest criminal bands in the world - to kill Alex, to punish the boy for defeating Herod Sayle. However, for the first time, Yassen is hesitant. Because, as readers of the series know, Yassen was trained by John Rider, Alex's father. But, there's a new element to his hesitation readers were not aware of in previous stories.
Then begins the flashback...
Fourteen year old Yasha Gregororvich is set on a life changing journey when his childhood home is destroyed by a powerful criminal. As Yasha grows into a man, he is bullied, mistreated, and must fight to survive, all the while being pulled into a world of evil and death he has no desire for, but won't let him go. In the end, it will be the pull of a trigger, and not his own choice, which decides his fate...
All in all, the book was very good, giving us a very different picture of the seemingly bloodthirsty killer from "Strormbreaker" and "Eagle Strike". Yassen feels as though he was never given a chance to be anything but an assassin, and, in sympathetic understanding, tries to give Alex the shot for freedom he never had in a cool rewriting of the last scene in "Strombreaker," when Yassen kills Sayle.
"Next time they (MI6) ask you (to work for them), say no."
However, the reason this is a four star is because of the gaping plot hole in the end.
Spoiler alert.Now, there is a plot hole in this story, but I feel compelled to correct a mistake I made in an earlier review. I falsely stated that Yassen felt no loyalty to John Rider after discovering he was an agent for MI6. I reread the book, however, and saw what I had, eh, skipped.
Yes, Yassen does, as I just said, figure out his mentor, Hunter, John Rider, the father of Alex Rider, was sent to infiltrate Scoria. The betrayal scars Yassen, and actually becomes the final domino in his journey as a killer.
But Yassen did not reveal John to his superiors for two reasons - one, John had saved his life. Two, although he worked for them, Yassen hated Scorpia, and didn't care what happened to them.
...But that begs a new question, even as I correct my false claim. When Yassen dies in "Eagle Strike," why does he encourage Alex to work for Scorpia? Why does he did he seem to have such respect for Alex's father? "He was a killer like me..." What? Now Yassen is proud of himself?
But this is a very good story, and earns its place at the Alex Rider table. Packed with emotion, action, and several cool cameos COUGH Mrs Rothman COUGH, it softens that soft spot left by "Scorpia Rising". And makes us hungrier for more.
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on November 15, 2013
I LOVED this book! It was amazing! Every Alex Rider fan needs this book! Total necessity. Even so, there are some plot errors. Some small. Some huge. For example, the dialouge doesn't match up completely with the first Alex Rider book. That's ok, but I would expect more from Anthony Horowitz. Also, what about Malta and Ash? What about the time where M16 tries to capture John Rider and get him out of Scorpia and Yassen gives Ash [Alex's godfather, for those of you who didn't read or pay attention in Snakehead] his scar WHILE HUNTER [aka John Rider] IS STILL MENTORING COSSACK [aka Yassen Gregovovich]?!?!? That's not included!!!!!!!!! WTF! If that's not a major plot event that was left out I don't know what is! Also, Yassen is NOT supposed to know that John R worked for M16, otherwise, he would NOT have told Alex to "Go to Venice. Find Scorpia. There you will find your destiny." in Eagle Strike. He owes loyalty to no one, so he wouldn't had said that unless he truly had believed that John R had been part of Scorpia. DUH!!!!! This is a great book, but now i don't know what's true and what's not. Did Ash lie to Alex about what happened in Malta? If so, where did he get his scar and why does he hate Yassen Gregorovich? Or was this just a plot mistake made by Anthony Horowitz? I don't know any more! This is a great book, but you will have to make up some of the story yourself to get the series to match up. Have fun filing in the blanks, but it's a great book either way. Read it, or I will hire an asassin..... JK! But seriously, this is an AMAZING, TOTALLY AWESOME book.
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on May 15, 2016
They say life is a circle, and you meet everyone twice. And so it goes in Russian Roulette, the story of contract killer, Yassen Gregorovich.

He grew up in a small Russian village with a loving mother, father and grandmother. He played with his best friend, Leo. They were poor, but life was good. Yassen had dreams of becoming a helicopter pilot and read voraciously about these flying machines.

Then one day every thing was suddenly, and violently, swept away. The village factory where his parents worked had been secretly making the deadly biological agent anthrax. There was an explosion releasing the toxin into the air. Guards shot his father and military helicopters fired missiles into the village to burn it down, destroying the evidence of biological weapons.

Before they died, Yassen’s parents gave him an injection to protect him from the poison and they sent him running. He fled with his friend Leo, who was not injected and died of Anthrax. Yassen sees his village go up in flames that devour his grandmother, and mother. The authorities try to hunt Yassen down. But he evades them, taking refuge on the mean streets of Moscow in gang life as a petty criminal.

Worse things happen and he ends up becoming a contract killer, not by choice but by default. Life has chosen a cruel path for him. There is a touch of evil in this story. Anthony Horowitz has achieved drama not seen in the rest of the Alex Rider series. This is a more adult book. It leaves a strong impression. This fiction is very close to reality.

I picked this book up because my daughter is reading the series, but Russian Roulette is a bit stronger. It is more philosophical. We see that the killer has humanity, which the world stripped from him. Horowitz has matured.
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on October 26, 2016
Exactly as advertised and shipped exactly as noted.
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on March 4, 2017
The story kept my son on the edge of his seat. He loved it.
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on September 14, 2013
My son and I have thoroughly enjoyed the Alex Rider series for some years, so I was happy to purchase Russian Roulette as soon as it came out. The story chronicles the life of the Russian assassin Yassen Gregorvich, who appears in the Alex Rider series. It charts how, as a child, he escaped from the attack that left his family and friends dead, survived on the streets of Moscow and ultimately came to the attention of Scorpia.

The writing is interesting, but does not have the pace of the Alex Rider series, nor the ability to draw you into the story. It seems at times to be a little predictable, which I think tends to be a trait of 'back-written' in-fill stories. There is some information about how Yassen connects with John Rider, but the scope is limited.

On balance, I would say this is a story worth reading. However, it is not a de facto Alex Rider story at all, and intending purchasers should be well aware of that at the beginning.
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on February 4, 2017
Having read the entire series and given the message Yassen received at the start of this book, I was curious as to where the plot would go. I was rewarded with a well crafted tale that found me sympathetic with Yassen, the anti-hero. A tip of the hat, Mr Borowitz, for a well knit yarn.
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on January 1, 2014
Well first of all it says Yassen is 28 years old which would make Alex about 8-9 when he is ordered to kill him which is not the case because it turns out he is actually 14. I suggest this be revised in the story. But considering that it was a good book for what it's worth. Very interesting take on how a simple child can turn into a conflicted killer. I hope there is more books in this new series detailing more of Yassen's killings while also inadvetently helping Alex to make an interesting background story to the Alex Rider series.
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on May 21, 2016
The book started out semi decent. The first page seemed promising enough but as I progressed through the next pages, you could see what was going to happen next, just like you could see the obvious creative failure of the book from the start. Just too many stereotypes for me; i.e. Russian children pretty much breastfed vodka, boy scout turned satan's mistress assassin. Just another sad installment in Alex Rider; a series of hardly half-decent books, that even 7 year olds would find cheesy and predictable.
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on April 14, 2014
I bought this one yesterday while perusing through my local Barnes and Noble, and I was intrigued by the prospect of having a book written entirely about Yassen. I finished it this afternoon, and I was certainly engaged with it. But it just didn't have that same Alex Rider thriller feel that we've all come to love. The book came off as a biography, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Alex Rider until the very end. His backstory was interesting, with all of the connections and everything, but it was all a bit predictable, but that's how a lot of these backstories work. Most of us were familiar with Yassen, and how it was supposed to end, but I'm surprised about just how much time was dedicated to his childhood. It just seemed so unnecessary for me, when I read an Alex Rider book, I expect to be kept on the edge of my seat as I read through the plot twists and drama and action, and there was next to none of that in here. I also didn't quite understand the ending, and why the author chose to end it at that particular juncture. It would have made a lot more sense to me to end it with Yassen's death, to help run the whole story full circle, and give a lot more opportunity to make the whole thing more interesting. Compared with the other extremely detailed parts of the book, the ending came off as rushed to me, and I wish the author had actually taken the time to weave it more into the plot of his other stories.Overall it was interesting, but it was lacking that same sense of adventure I've loved with all of the other Alex Rider books.
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