I am coming late to the Alex Rider series as my oldest son is only seven. This is the second Alex Rider book that I've read, for the purpose of understanding when my spy-obsessed son might be old enough to start reading the series.
I enjoyed reading this book. It obviously lacks the complexity and depth of a book written for adults, but it is still a fast paced and enjoyable thriller that borrows heavily on the James Bond and Mission Impossible franchises. Alex Rider makes a likeable hero who is brave, tenacious and resourceful.
I would feel comfortable giving it to my son to read when he's a little older - my gut feel is 9-10 years would be about right. He still needs to strengthen his reading skills (words like interrogation, hyperventilating, cloying, claustrophobic and exquisite are typical), but also to develop the maturity to cope with a plot that involves a fair amount of violence (the book opens with the death of Alex's uncle and bad guys get shot on a regular basis).
Here are some things that parents may like to know about this book: - The storyline is reasonably simple and the bad guy/good guy lines are clearly drawn. - Violence is not described in overly graphic detail, but it does occur throughout the book. Alex fires a gun twice and hits a bad guy on one occasion. He also causes the death of another villain by causing a plane crash. - There is no swearing or bad language. - There is a noticeable absence of positive female characters (unless you count the housekeeper who barely appears). There is a reference by the MI5 into female agents being of use if you need someone to slip in as a secretary or receptionist.