Books & Literature

Book Review: Alex Rider: Secret Weapon, by Anthony Horiwitz

An essential collection of seven explosive Alex Rider YA fiction stories by number one bestselling author, Anthony Horowitz.

For young readers who are lovers of fast-paced spy adventures!

Anthony Horowitz is an English author best known for his Alex Rider series, of which there are now 12 books with a 13th coming out soon, along with The Diamond Brothers series and The Power of Five series. He also created and wrote the television series Foyle’s War. He was chosen by the Ian Fleming estate to write more James Bond novels after the author’s death, and the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle to write a new Sherlock Holmes novel. He has been very prolific in both print and television, publishing more than 50 books. A new 8-part television series based on one of the first Alex Rider novels is being shot at the moment.

This new novel continues with the exploits of Alex Rider with seven short stories. Four of them have been published previously in various forms, but the other three are brand new. They are all typical Horowitz with fast-paced, non-stop action.

Alex Rider is an English teenage boy who was thrust into the world of the Special Operations Division of MI6 at the age of 14 and, even though he is a reluctant spy, he is very good at it! His late uncle was also a spy and unbeknown to Alex, had been training him since he was a young child. His uncle had made sure Alex had learnt several forms of martial arts plus an assortment of different languages, as well as many survival techniques before the age of 10.

Alex has to juggle his secret life as a spy with his everyday school life with little help from the powers that be in MI6 who only seem to be worried about their missions and not the life of their youngest spy.

All the usual MI6 personnel are present in these stories, from Alan Blunt, the chief executive, and his Deputy Mrs Jones, to the MI6 manufacturer of gadgets and secret weapons, Smithers. Smithers is able to dream up all manner of useful gadgets, each one hidden in various places that have often saved the life of Alex: he is not allowed to carry anything lethal, as he is still a teenager.

The seven stories in this novel are all stand-alone and take Alex around the world, saving humanity from those who want to destroy it. Alex is quick thinking and always able to come up with unique, clever and sometimes crazy ways to save himself from all manner of situations. Horowitz is able to brilliantly paint the scene of places we probably have never been in concise informative language so we have a sense of place.

Even though you may not have read any previous Alex Rider exploits, these short stories are a great introduction to the crazy life of this teenage spy. Readers don’t need to have any prior knowledge as each story has just enough necessary background information to help us understand the relevant past exploits of Alex.

The Alex Rider series is a perfect introduction for younger readers to the mystery and intrigue found in James Bond. There is humour and quick thinking and the action never stops. It is a great book for those who love action and adventure and just may leave your child wanting to be a spy.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Walker Books Australia
Released: April 2019
RRP: $16.99

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