Saturday, April 17, 2010

Alex Rider Goes Up

Back in February I read the first Alex Rider book, and mentioned that I'd recommend it to my fifth grader. Wonder of wonder, he actually picked up a book from me, and devoured it. He then called for sequels. I've been reading along with him, although he grabbed a firm lead by borrowing from his school library. Also there was my little issue with a library explosion to deal with. I've almost caught up to him, since the last book is on a long wait list, heh heh heh.

The entire series follows the pattern set in the first. Alex is trapped into working for various spy agencies, unless he is dealing with super villains without any help at all. He wishes he could go back to being a simple schoolboy, but it seems the world would collapse without him. Adults call upon him to do their missions, but refuse him respect because he is just a kid. Yet he out-thinks them all and saves the day, over and over again. He is amazing clever, athletic, and lucky, but never lets it go to his head. His only guardian is the timid housekeeper Jack, who blithely sends him off with brief acquaintances who keep inviting him over for a holiday. This is a very tasty brew for a child!

I like the way Anthony Horowitz plays with cliffhangers, using ambiguous pronouns to imply that our hero gets shot or smushed or whatever. He even ends one book with a sniper shooting Our Hero in the chest. Alex keeps his innocence -- he never kills anyone, although people opposing him end up dead in droves all around him. Hey, if you are shooting at Alex Rider, don't be surprised to have him manipulate you into running up a see-saw and flinging yourself into the path of your own bullets.

The stakes keep rising, although sometimes into side stepping directions. Maybe the spy agency will ignore Alex's information. Maybe they haven't mentioned killing his FATHER. Maybe Alex is the only one who can fit into the monkey-sized space suit so he can blast into space to disarm the bomb. Or maybe... Actually, I have no idea how Horowitz is going to top that space one. And I refuse to ask my son; I'll just wait to get the book back from the library. B-

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