9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
One Incredibly Gripping Thriller,
This review is from: Scorpia (Paperback)
From the outset, the Alex Rider books have been action packed, but this one beats them all. The story opens with Alex in Venice, where by chance, he discovers a silver scorpion decorating the side of a motor launch. Following his instincts (and the boat) he arrives at a luxurious palazzo. Determined to discover whether this is the headquarters of the infamous Scorpia (and whether his father was indeed one of their top assassins), he gate-crashes a masked ball ... only to find himself trapped in the same room as a man-eating Siberian tiger. And that's just the beginning!!!
The pacing is exhausting, yet cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter make it impossible to stop reading and get your breath back. One minute fourteen year-old Alex is BASE jumping onto the roof of a top secret research facility, the next he's enrolled in a school for elite assassins supposedly following his father's footsteps. Before long he's on his first mission ... and this time he's armed to kill.
With incredible skill, Anthony Horowitz takes impossible situations and somehow makes them believable. At one point, Alex finds himself attending an emergency cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street. Terrorists, determined to irrevocably damage relations between Britain and the USA, have demanded that America withdraw its troops from every foreign country, or they will use their deadliest weapon (Invisible Sword) to wipe out countless thousands of British children in one foul swoop.
This book is far darker and more chilling than its predecessors. This is probably because, at times, the setting seems uncomfortably close to the real world. Young readers are doubtless aware of the insidious threat of terrorism, and the uneasy political alliance between Britain and the USA. Add to this the fact that Horowitz promises in his introduction that the technology required for Invisible Sword actually exists ... and you've got one incredibly gripping thriller.
If you've read the rest of the Alex Rider series, then you have to read this too. If you've never read one of Anthony Horowitz's books before, then this is perhaps his best ... and well worth reading, even if you're considerably older than the target readership. If you'd like to read the other stories first, I'd recommend the big compilation edition containing all four books in one volume ... it's great value for money.
Finally, the ending is stunning. Some reviewers see it as a cliff-hanger ... but I'm not so sure. I don't want to spoil it by adding my personal theories; read it yourself and make your own mind up!