Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz

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Stormbreaker
“When the doorbell rings at three in the morning, it’s never good news. Alex Rider was woken by the first chime. His eyes flickered open, but for a moment he stayed completely still in his bed, lying on his back with his head resting on the pillow.”

The first book in the acclaimed Alex Rider series, which reinvented the spy genre!

Although Anthony Horowitz has published dozens of successful novels, Stormbreaker was the start of a new era. By far his most famous series, this first book was released in 2000 and has won numerous awards since.

A reluctant teenage spy, Alex Rider is every kid’s best friend with his sarcastic humour and incredible skills. He’s dragged into an adventure he wants nothing to do with and pulls the reader along with him, through dramatic fight scenes, killer jellyfish, and a millionaire madman.


Summary

The book follows 14-year-old Alex Rider as he tries to solve the mystery of his uncle’s death, and gets drawn into a whole new world as a result. Blackmailed by the Head of MI6, he’s forced to complete his uncle’s mission. He goes through torturous training with the SAS, meets a professional hitman, and gets James Bond worthy gadgets. Between ex-circus act henchmen to killer cheese wire to a particularly explosive Nintendo game, this novel leaves the reader hanging on the edge of their seat with every word.



Commentary

This was my favourite novel as a kid, and still remains in my best books list today! Stormbreaker is witty and daring and the beginning of a fantastic spy series!

Praise

  • The chapters are short but action-packed. It makes the story punchy and engaging, and before you know it, you’ve finished the book. The majority of the book is very plot-focused and it jumps from problem to problem, keeping the reader interested and waiting to see what happens next.
  • Alex Rider himself is perhaps the most cynical character to have ever lived. He’s sharp, witty, and sarcastic. His sense of humour is unparalleled, and even adults can’t help but laugh at his puns. It adds a bright side to otherwise dark life-threatening situations.
  • Although originally written as an antithesis to the James Bond franchise, Stormbreaker still contains some recognisable characters. Smithers, in particular, the ‘Q’ of the series, is jolly and amusing. He creates completely impossible but quite brilliant gadgets. They’re new and interesting and reminiscent of the original MI6 Quartermaster.

Critique

  • As interesting as Alex is, there is a lack of character development throughout the novel. His uncle just died, and instead of grieving, he plays pool and gets into dangerous situations. His humour keeps the story light-hearted and amusing, but in reality, no 14-year-old would be able to cope with what he goes through. Fortunately, kids don’t look for things like this, so Horowitz can get away with it.
  • The only person of colour in the entire novel is the villain. Asides from being racist and discriminatory, Horowitz only furthers emphasises this inappropriate stereotype.
  • As well as this, there are hints of sexism throughout the story. Not a single character of power is a woman, and asides from Mrs Jones and a villain, every other woman mentioned has stereotypical “woman’s jobs” such as housekeepers and cleaners.


Recommendations

Overall, I’d give Anthony Horowitz’s Stormbreaker four out of five. It’s entertaining and suspenseful and a surprisingly quick read. It’s been a family favourite since its first release, and for good reason!

I’d recommend this novel for absolutely everyone. It’s got a plot ridiculous enough to keep children interested, dialogue amusing enough to keep adults reading, and an absurd cartoonish villain that prevents everything from getting too serious. It’s definitely worth checking out!


4/5 Star



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