Reviews for Stormbreaker
Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 September 2001
Gr. 6-9. When his uncle and legal guardian are mysteriously killed in a car crash, 14-year-old Alex sees his prep-school world overturned in an instant. Police explain in funeral voices that Ian Rider's death was the result of not wearing his seat belt, but that doesn't explain the fresh spray of bullet holes across the car's battered windshield. Finding out what really killed his uncle "and saving England" become young Alex's new life mission. Inspired by James Bond and his own opulent but lonely boarding school upbringing, Horowitz thoughtfully balances Alex's super-spy finesse with typical teen insecurities to create a likable hero living a fantasy come true. An entertaining, nicely layered novel, especially for boys who may not like to read but have a soft spot for good-verses-evil adventure. ((Reviewed September 1, 2001))Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Fall
When Uncle Ian is murdered, Alex learns that his guardian was a spy. England's intelligence agency then drafts the fourteen-year-old to complete his uncle's work. Equipped with sophisticated gadgetry, Alex investigates a businessman who is planning a violent act of terrorism. This junior James Bond skydives, dodges bullets, and swims through underwater caves in a book that, despite its preposterous premise, is hard to put down. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2001 March #2
What if James Bond had started spying as a teenager? This thriller pits 14-year-old Alex Rider against a mad billionaire industrialist. Non-stop action keeps the intrigue boiling as Alex tries to stop the remarkably evil Herod Sayles from murdering Britain's schoolchildren through biological warfare. Alex begins as an innocent boy shocked by the death of his Uncle Ian in a traffic accident. Suspicious of the official explanation, he investigates and finds Ian's car riddled with bullet holes. He narrowly escapes being crushed in the car as it's demolished, then climbs out of a 15-story window to break into Ian's office. He learns that Ian was a spy, and reluctantly joins Britain's MI6 intelligence agency. After surviving brutal training and armed with stealthy spy tools, Alex infiltrates Sayles's operation as the teenage tester of the "Stormbreaker," a new computer Sayles is giving to British schools. Thereafter he survives murderous ATV drivers, an underwater swim in an abandoned mine, and an encounter with a Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish before hitching a ride on an already airborne plane. The plot is, of course, preposterous, but young readers won't care as they zoom through numerous cliffhangers. This is the first book in a series planned by the author, and may prove useful for reluctant readers looking for excitement. (Fiction. 12-14) Copyright 2001 Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2001 May #3
Readers will cheer for Alex Rider, the 14-year-old hero of British author Horowitz's spy thriller (the first in a projected series). When his guardian and uncle, Ian, is mysteriously killed, Alex discovers that his uncle was not the bank vice-president he purported to be, but rather a spy for the British government. Now the government wants Alex to take over his uncle's mission: investigating Sayle Enterprises, the makers of a revolutionary computer called Stormbreaker. The company's head plans to donate one to every secondary school in England, but his dealings with unfriendly countries and Ian Rider's murder have brought him under suspicion. Posing as a teenage computer whiz who's won a Stormbreaker promotional contest, Alex enters the factory and immediately finds clues from his uncle. Satirical names abound (e.g., Mr. Grin, Mr. Sayle's brutish butler, is so named for the scars he received from a circus knife-throwing act gone wrong) and the hard-boiled language is equally outrageous ("It was a soft gray night with a half-moon forming a perfect D in the sky. D for what, Alex wondered. Danger? Discovery? Or disaster?"). These exaggerations only add to the fun, as do the creative gadgets that Alex uses, including a metal-munching cream described as "Zit-Clean. For Healthier Skin." The ultimate mystery may be a bit of a letdown, but that won't stop readers from racing through Alex's adventures, from a high-speed bike chase to a death-defying dance with a Portuguese man-of-war. The audience will stay tuned for his next assignment, Point Blanc, due out spring 2002. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2001 June
Gr 5-9-Alex Rider's world is turned upside down when he discovers that his uncle and guardian has been murdered. The 14-year-old makes one discovery after another until he is sucked into his uncle's undercover world. The Special Operations Division of M16, his uncle's real employer, blackmails the teen into serving England. After two short weeks of training, Alex is equipped with several special toys like a Game Boy with unique cartridges that allow it to scan, fax, and emit smoke bombs. Alex's mission is to complete his uncle's last assignment, to discover the secret that Herod Sayle is hiding behind his generous donation of one of his supercomputers to every school in the country. When Alex enters Sayle's compound in Port Tallon, he discovers a strange world of secrets and villains including Mr. Grin, an ex-circus knife catcher, and Yassen Gregorovich, professional hit man. The novel provides bang after bang as Alex experiences and survives unbelievably dangerous episodes and eventually crashes through the roof of the Science Museum to save the day. Alex is a strong, smart hero. If readers consider luck the ruling factor in his universe, they will love this James Bond-style adventure. With short cliff-hanger chapters and its breathless pace, it is an excellent choice for reluctant readers. Warning: Suspend reality.-Lynn Bryant, formerly at Navarre High School, FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2001 August
Alex Rider becomes the first fourteen-year-old MI6 agent when his uncle is assassinated. Alex is forced to take over the case involving a suspicious computer baron who has donated thousands of his newest, top-secret modules to British schools. This action-packed spy novel, the first in the projected Stormbreaker series, has all the clich s: a stony-faced hero, plenty of preposterous stunts-including using the rappelling cord to catch an airplane-terse dialogue, and the evil Egyptian, Russian, and Fr ulein. There is not much else to the story, however, nor to Alex's character. Horowitz draws him out a little in the beginning as a reluctant spy who is unwilling to kill-although plenty of other people do kill each other in this story-but then loses him as the movielike plot predictably and explosively unfolds. This uncomplicated novel is fun fare enough for the Young Indiana Jones fan or reluctant reader. Although it offers little that a B movie does not, sophisticated readers will find it simplistic. Those readers looking for intrigue and suspense will be served better with John Marsden or Peter Dickinson.-Nina Lindsay. 3Q 4P M J Copyright 2001 Voya Reviews