Top positive review
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Yasha, plot holes and soft spots.
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.