Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz
I read the first book in the ALEX RIDER series (Stormbreaker) several years ago, and since I enjoyed it so much, I’ve no idea why it’s taken me this long to get to its sequel: Point Blank, named for the elite boarding school high in the French Alps. Here the troubled sons of millionaires are sent in order to be tutored in isolation, away from any bad influences, though MI5 is concerned when two of the students’ fathers are found dead in unusual circumstances. Surely it can’t be a coincidence?
They decide to send in Alex Rider, the nephew of deceased agent Ian Rider, who has previously been used to infiltrate an organization that only a teenager could explore without attracting undue attention. Trained by MI5 and given a host of gadgets to help him out, Special Operations director Alan Blunt is confident in the fourteen year old’s abilities.
But Alex is reluctant to agree. After all, he barely escaped with his life the last time he volunteered for a mission…
Point Blank takes a while to get going, with the first few chapters devoted to quite a lot of filler before Alex finally arrives undercover at the school, posing as teen delinquent Alex Friend, son of a supermarket mogul. But once he’s established at the school, mingling with his fellow students by day and investigating the place by night, the story cracks into high gear.
Other reviewers have noted the story’s similarities to the JAMES BOND novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, what with the mountaintop location and sinister, almost grotesque villains, but Anthony Horowitz brings a dose of zany creativity to the proceedings that is sure to appeal to a younger readership.
Parts of the story have dated since it was first published in 2001: among other things, the book references Nintendo Game Boys, a Sony Discman, and MTV. Funny how much can change in just over a decade, but the story is exciting and funny, and Alex an appealing hero.
And with talks of a television adaptation in the works, it would appear that Alex Rider is about to make a comeback…
Alex Rider — (2000-2011) Young adult. Publisher: They told him his uncle died in an accident. He wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, they said. But when fourteen-year-old Alex finds his uncle’s windshield riddled with bullet holes, he knows it was no accident. What he doesn’t know yet is that his uncle was killed while on a top-secret mission. But he is about to, and once he does, there is no turning back. Finding himself in the middle of terrorists, Alex must outsmart the people who want him dead. The government has given him the technology, but only he can provide the courage. Should he fail, every child in England will be murdered in cold blood. The first in a thrilling new series by British writer Anthony Horowitz, Stormbreaker will have pulses racing from start to finish.