Book Series: Alex Rider Series
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Reviewed by: Katy Reeve
Age range: Avid (7-9) : Bang on the button – (9 – 11): Reluctant – (YA)
Genre: Spy kids (Action and adventure)
This book is a great choice if your child:
- Is an avid reader of fast action, adventure stories
- Has enjoyed the film Stormbreaker or Scorpia Rising, as the book is, as always, much better.
- Loves fast-paced, action stories based on a central character that is set within the context of our world.
- Gets drawn into a narrative through the rich description of characters and setting, and enjoys the extra detail. Horowitz masterfully links each book in the series through symbolic clues to add interest for the attentive reader.
- Is ready for more grown-up themes, such as death.
- Accessible and engaging text that is not too complicated.
- Needs to develop self-confidence and reading stamina.The main characters continue to appear throughout the series, and events follow a pattern that can support readers to understand and stay with the plot.
The twelve books in this action-packed adventure series for the teenage 007, Alex Rider, is my go-to recommendation to engage reluctant 9-12-year-old readers. Anthony Horowitz creates the perfect balance between espionage, secret agent weapons and gadgets and developing characters on either side of good and evil, which you can empathise with or just really, really dislike.
For the reader, especially boys, who think stories are not for them Horowitz has often changed their mind. It may be worth reading the first book, Stormbreaker, as a buddy read or night time story first to get your child going. However don’t be surprised if they soon want to take the book into school and talk to others about it. I have found huddles of boys in the playground discussing where they have read up to and evaluating Alex’s chances of survival!
With so many books in the series so far, some of which have been made into a film, there is plenty to satisfy readers. The audiobooks are well read and widely available, these can provide confidence and independence for children who want to go it alone with their reading, they can be a wonderful support. For deeper, more questioning readers, the symbolism, links between the action and characters in each of the Alex Rider books creates opportunities for broad discussion and inference. I have put 9+ because the themes of the story; death, loyalty, MI5, and loneliness tend to resonate and engage children in upper primary but you know your child if they want to read it at 7 and you think they are ready then dive in and enjoy.
Praise for Never Say Die (Book 11):
“Once again amid races, chases, hails of bullets, and increasingly spectacular explosions, the teenage James Bond pulls off one awesome feat of derring-do after another. [This] fresh caper … roars along to a (naturally) explosive climax.” – Booklist