Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review of Scorpia Rising

Book #23. Scorpia Rising, by Anthony Horowitz. Unabridged audio.
I have read all of the prior Alex Ryder novels, and have found them among the more serious Young Adult novels I’ve read. The concept of “teen James Bond” could go wrong in a lot of silly ways, but this series has always taken seriously the effects that this situation will have on both the teen and on those around them.

As the novel opens, Alex Ryder is out of the spy game, supposedly for good. He and his female caretaker, Jack, have moved to London, and Alex is back in school. The leaders of MI6 have pledged to never use Alex again on a mission, recognizing how lucky they have been that his involvement has not become publicly known. But an attack at Alex’s school and the interception of some troubling chatter leads MI6 to put him back in the field, for what they promise is one last mission.

A teenaged enemy from a prior book, Julius, escapes his secret prison. Having had his features surgically altered to become a virtual twin of Alex makes him the perfect pawn for the evil organization Scorpia to use. The novel is exciting, and Alex also manages to have plenty of character moments, especially with his female caretaker Jack Starbright. As the novel ends, it appears that Alex’s career as a spy is actually, truly over. We also learn that MI-6 is not as virtuous in dealing with Alex as we may have thought at this point in the series. This is a level of nuance and Realpolitik that is unusual for a novel featuring a teen protagonist.

There is one more book set in this world, but from what I can tell Alex is not the lead character. It may well be a prequel involving Alex’s spy father, and the man who came to be Alex’s greatest nemesis.

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