Categories
Book Club Pick

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

Book Club Pick: May 2015

Stormbreaker cover

Book Details:

Title: Stormbreaker

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Series: Alex Rider (Book #1)

Country: England

Publisher: Walker Books

First Published: 2000

Pages: 238

Publisher Description:

When his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds his world turned upside down.

Within days he’s gone from schoolboy to superspy. Forcibly recruited into MI6, Alex has to take part in gruelling SAS training exercises; then armed with his own special set of secret gadgets, he’s off on his first mission. But Alex soon finds himself in mortal danger. It looks as if his first assignment may well be his last…

 

Review:

The novel opens following the death of 14-year-old Alex Rider’s guardian and uncle Ian in a car accident. Alex becomes suspicious after learning his normally very careful uncle was not wearing a seatbelt and finds that his uncle’s office has been cleared out.

Alex finds his uncle’s car in a junkyard ridden with bullet holes and blood on the seats suggesting his uncle had been murdered. In the first of many action sequences Alex narrowly escapes after the car is loaded into the car crusher with Alex inside.

Later Alex is invited to his uncle’s bank where he learns that Ian Rider was a secret agent for MI6.

Ian Rider’s last case was investigating multi-millionaire businessman Herod Sayles, who had recently announced that he was donating thousands of his new computer line Stormbreaker to London school children.

MI6 would like Alex to pose as a Felix Lester, a school boy who won a contest to test the Stormbreaker computer. Alex initially refuses. MI6 head Alan Blunt who controls Alex’s inheritance blackmails him with threats of selling his uncle’s home, placing him in an orphanage and having his live in housekeeper Jack Starbright deported.

Alex is unaware that his uncle has been preparing him for the secret service with karate and outdoor pursuits such as rock climbing and river rafting.

Alex completes an extensive training program with SAS soldiers before being sent to Sayle Enterprises armed with a series of teen-friendly gadgets including acne cream that burns through metal and a Gameboy equipped with spy gear such as a bug detector, transmitter and smoke screen.

The book is an easy read. There is plenty of action making this a popular choice for young male readers.

Stormbreaker was adapted into a film in 2006 starring Alex Pettyfer. Horowitz, an experienced scriptwriter also penned the film’s script.

Stormbreaker film

I would recommend the Alex Rider series to readers who enjoy action and adventure stories. Suitable for ages 11+

 

Links:

Anthony Horowitz Official Website

Anthony Horowitz on Twitter

Alex Rider series Official Website

Alex Rider series Facebook page

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Categories
Book Club Pick

The Recruit by Robert Muchamore

Book Club Pick: November 2014

TheRecruit

Book Details:

Title: The Recruit

Author: Robert Muchamore

Series: CHERUB (Book one)

Country: Britain

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books

First Published: 2004

Pages: 342

Publisher Description:

A terrorist doesn’t let strangers in her flat because they might be undercover police or intelligence agents, but her children bring their mates home and they run all over the place.

The terrorist doesn’t know that a kid had bugged every room in her house, made copies of all her computer files and stolen her address book. The Kid works for CHERUB.

CHERUB is not James Bond. There are no master criminals or high-tech gadgets. CHERUB kids live in the real world. They slip under adult radar and get information that sends criminals and terrorists to jail. For official purposes, these children do no exist.

Review:

The novel opens with eleven (soon to be twelve) year-old James Choke at school. Teacher’s pet Samantha Jennings relentlessly teases James about his obese, stolen goods dealing mother Gwen. James retaliates pushing Samantha against the wall. She cuts her face on a protruding nail. Panicked James flees the classroom knocking his teacher down in the process. James’ day only gets worse when Samantha’s older brother Greg corners him, shreds his clothes with a knife and delivers a mighty punch to his stomach.

Before James can tell his mother about what happened at school Gwen tragically passes away after drinking alcohol while on prescription medication. James and his nine-year-old tomboy half-sister Lauren are taken to Nebraska Home, a care home. The next morning Lauren is told she is going to live with father Ron – but he does not want James.

James is befriended by thirteen-year-old Kyle Blueman, whom he shares a room with at Nebraska Home. Despite warnings from Kyle, James falls in with the wrong crowd and after he offends teen gang ring leader Rob Vaughn, the boys set him up to get caught in a liquor store robbery.

The next morning following his arrest James wakes up naked at an unknown facility where he finds everyone is wearing different coloured t-shits and no one will give him a straight answer. James finally meets Dr. Terrance ‘Mac’ McAfferty, who explains that he is at the training campus for CHERUB, a top secret intelligence branch of MI5, where youth aged ten to seventeen undergo extensive training to become spies.

Mac puts James through three entrance tests. If he passes them – he can then choose if he wishes to train to become a secret agent. After passing the recruitment test James returns to Nebraska House where he learns that roommate Kyle and the home’s counsellor work for CHERUB and arranged for James to be recruited.

Three weeks after his arrival James is partnered with Kerry Chang and enters 100 day gruelling training programme under the sadistic Norman Large. Will he pass basic training, earn his grey t-shirt and become a CHERUB agent?

The narrative is written is first person and is easy to read with short chapters. There is plenty of action and adventure to keep readers turning the pages.

The book does feature some moderate language and violence. The central protagonist is a flawed character – he has anger issues, smokes, drinks alcohol, steals, vandalises property. But ultimately James’ redeemable feature is that he cares for his sister Lauren and he begins to develop a moral compass and come to terms with the idea that the good guys have do bad things and the bad guys aren’t necessarily all bad.

The novel tackles some tough topics that would be relevant to young adults such as bullying, peer pressure, alcohol and drug abuse, crime, the loss of a parent and grief.

I would recommend this book for audiences aged 11+. It is probably going to appeal most to younger teen boys.

Links:

Robert Muchamore Official Website

Robert Muchamore on Twitter

Robert Muchamore on Facebook

Robert Muchamore on YouTube

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.