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Skeleton Key (Alex Rider Adventure) Paperback – February 16, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5-10-Fans of Horowitz's Stormbreaker (2001) and Point Blank (2002, both Philomel), and newcomers to the series alike, will not be disappointed with this rip-roaring escapade featuring the 14-year-old spy. Trying to return to a "normal" life as a schoolboy after a mere four weeks since his last MI6 adventure, Alex Rider is recruited right off the soccer field to check out some suspicious goings-on at Wimbledon. This assignment catapults him into a series of life-threatening episodes, such as coming face to face with a great white shark, dodging bullets as he dives off a burning boat, and being tied to a conveyor belt that is moving toward the jaws of a gigantic grindstone in an abandoned sugar factory. Soon the teen is single-handedly taking on his most dangerous enterprise yet. His mission is nothing short of saving the world from a nuclear attack, engineered by the psychopathic and egomaniacal former commander of the Russian army. Alex is armed only with a few specially designed gadgets, which are disarmingly age-appropriate: a Gameboy that doubles as a Geiger counter, a cell phone whose aerial shoots out a drugged needle that is activated by pressing 999, a Tiger Woods figurine that doubles as a small grenade when its head is twisted just so. This page-turning thriller leaves readers breathless with anticipation. When at last Alex returns home, his love interest, Sabina Pleasure, asks where he has been. "Well, I was, sort of- busy," he replies in a classic, understated, James Bond kind of way.
Elizabeth Fernandez, Brunswick Middle School, Greenwich, CT
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gr. 6-9. Fourteen-year-old British secret agent Alex Rider, last heard from in Point Blank (2002), is back in another adventure. This time he's on an island near Cuba where he's up against a retired Russian general who plans to set off a nuclear device and, in the ensuing world chaos, take over the Russian government and restore the Soviet Empire. The general takes a shine to Alex once they meet, however, and he offers to adopt him as his son. Of course, this is the man's fatal mistake; Alex is there at the crucial moment to thwart the general's plans. This series unabashedly lifts details from the James Bond formula (minus the vodka martinis and casual sex) and transfers them to a novel for young adults. Yet, the Bond formula is the most successful in entertainment history, and there's no doubting the appeal of this action-packed spy novel. Todd Morning
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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But despite some of the flaws, I thought that the fourteen year old spy concept was pulled off well. Alex's good abilities were well-explained and not just passed off as talent, which I find irritating.
But anyway, ON WITH THE REVIEW.
Personally, I found "Skeleton Key" the weakest in the series. In it, Alex goes to Wimbledon as a ballboy by request of Crawley because there was a break-in. So once Alex gets there, he starts investigating a security guard who turns out to be part of a gang called the Big Circle, who will stop at nothing to kill Alex. So, Blunt sends Alex off to America for his safety with the CIA agents Turner and Troy as part of their cover. Once they get there, it becomes clear Alex doesn't know the full story and that the agents are REALLY investigating a man called General Sarov, who allegedly has a nuclear bomb. The Russian president is coming and nobody has a clue what's going on.
That's a pretty loose synopsis, but I want to get on with my opinion. [MILD SPOILERS AHEAD.]
OK, so first off: I didn't like Sarov as a villain. There, I said it. He always seemed far too sympathetic for my taste. Yeah, it's nice to have a "grey" character, but this is the ALEX RIDER SERIES! All the villains are NASTY! Sarov wants to do this terrible thing but his character just doesn't match that. He's willing to kill thousands of people, but wants to adopt Alex.
Personally, if Sarov had been driven insane by his son's death and thought Alex was a sort of replacement for him, I would've liked it better. It would've fitted, anyway. But Sarov has never caused Alex bodily harm. I just find it hard to root for Alex when Sarov isn't that unlikeable.
Conrad, on the other hand... I love Conrad. After Kaspar, he's my favourite sidekick. He is AWESOME. If he was the main villain and Sarov was the sidekick, it would've been a bit better. But hey, that's just my opinion.
Some parts of the book I loved. The bit with the shark was really good, so was the sugar crusher thing Conrad used on Alex. I didn't think Sarov's plan would've worked as well as he hoped. It's a pretty big plot hole for Horowitz, because if something like that had happened, the outcome would be completely different.
In conclusion: A decent entry to the series, but by no means up there with Scorpia and Snakehead.
"Skeleton Key" is the third in the series about Alex Rider, a 14-year-old English school boy, who works as a spy for M16, the U.S.'s equivalent of the CIA. Not that he wants to work as a spy--oh no, he does not, but M16 manages to entangle him every time in a new episode in which, bottom line, he saves the world. That's three times now that he has done so.
The first time was "Stormbreaker," set in the Cornish coast of England, involving a computer scheme unlike any you have heard of. Alex triumphs spectacularly! The second time was "Point Blank," set in an elite school for highly privileged and troubled youth. The school is set on Point Blank in Switzerland. Another, no, make that two spectacular endings in this book!
Let me say that what Anthony Horowitz creates for Alex to know and do are truly preposterous--if you logically examine the plot, but, I'm telling you also truthfully, that Horowitz's skill at writing is such that the reader believes these things CAN happen. Example: Alex must board a departing yacht and does so on skateboard by ramping up a plank, hurtling through air, just barely grasping the handrail, and pulling himself up and over. Allow me to explain: In book one, Horowitz laid the back story to show that Alex was trained in many areas by his uncle, who was a M16 spy, unbeknownst to Alex.
In Book Three, "Skeleton Key," Alex's new assignment is working with two agents from the CIA to explore a mansion on the tip of an island, Skeleton Key, owned by a retired Soviet general, who has serious hanky-panky in mind. It involves uranium and an atomic bomb.
The yacht-leaping takes place in this story. However, Alex is thwarted several times in this adventure, showing the reader that Alex cannot elude every case of danger.
An atomic bomb, world domination, a mad general, and one more put-together Frankenstein assistant. Can a 14-year-old boy handle those? That is absolutely the fun of reading this series--you know he will, but you don't know how!
This is a series that needs to be read in order for the back story, which builds with each book. To begin:
1. Alex Rider: Stormbreaker tie-in novel (Alex Rider Movie)
2. Point Blank (Alex Rider Adventures)
There are currently eight books in the series. Horowitz plans a total of ten.
Most recent customer reviews
“Skeleton Key” is the third book in the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz.Read more
Best book ever.
Must read the next book
Alex rider you are the best spy ever.