Alex Rider is back - and this time there are no limits. Alex Rider is in hospital and determined to put his spying days behind him. But he is forced ...Show synopsisAlex Rider is back - and this time there are no limits. Alex Rider is in hospital and determined to put his spying days behind him. But he is forced back into action when the vicious terrorist group Force Three takes him prisoner. Alex makes his escape - yet his most perilous adventure is only just beginning. Alex must stop Force Three in their attempt to destroy Russian billionaire Nikolei Drevin and his revolutionary space hotel Ark Angel; but this time, the teenage superspy will have to push himself to the limits - and beyond.Hide synopsis
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Like all of the books by Anthony Horowitz, Ark Angel is superbly plotted and logical -- it requires very little suspension of belief in any of his books that are part of either the Alex Rider series, the Diamond Brothers series, that Gatekeeper series or any other of his single books, including the book that has the gadgets used by Alex Rider.
If you accept that a 14-year-old has the physical stamina to undergo five major conflicts in a period of less than a year, you need no further suspension of belief. In my personal case, I took an interest in the author because several of my students wanted to read some of his books. I became so interested in them personally, that I purchased all of them except 'South by Southeast ' at the end of the school year, and I have spent the weeks since June 13 or 20 reading the entire corpus of his works.
I found the series about the Diamond Brothers particularly hilarious, since each is a spoof of a classic movie, and that fact will lead me to find a copy of the one missing book, which is clearly a takeoff of Hitchcock's 'North by Northwest', and has the potential of being very funny. He has a definite bent for humor, and he comes across in that series very well. This series has an additional value: the jokes frequently are based on the fact that a word can have several quite disparate meanings, and they help the younger reader to appreciate the shades of difference of meaning in words. He is particularly good for young reader who doesn't like to use the dictionary, because the watchful parent or teacher can help a student learn about the possibilities of meanings of words, which are the basis of so many jokes that we have.
The Gatekeeper series takes us into another world, the world of the paranormal, offering us explanations for such things as the giant figures in Peru, which have puzzled researchers since they were uncovered. The characters -- especially the five heroes/heroines -- are more tightly drawn. If you're interested in the paranormal, they make excellent reading. Even if you're not, they're a death-defying, page-turning experience.
Which brings me back to Alex Rider. The books in this series were the original books that I read. Added to all of his confrontations with groups such as Scorpia, there is the continuing mystery about his father and mother and his uncle and their relationship to MIA6 and to the world of international spying. The characters are well drawn, and I especially like the character Smithers, who supplies Alex with all kinds of gadgets by which he saves himself. There is also a certain boldness in naming the characters: I especially noted the fact that his housekeeper/legal guardian, a woman, is named Jack, and should you forget, it makes for some interesting thinking when you stumble across the name.
All in all, a reader around sixth grade level, and especially an older reader will find it difficult to read but dislikes pokes at lower levels because they don't speak to them in his own language, I highly recommend this author, because he is able to take contemporary ideas such as cloning or electronic gaming and choose to make them the centerpiece of a struggle between good and evil. I don't know whether Alex Rider will ever live to grow up, but so far, so good -- and I keep hoping that he will live to grow up. He's an interesting character, and he shares this characteristic of being a 14-year-old with all the major characters in all of Horowitz's books.
I cannot recommend these books too highly -- both as a reader and as a professional who has spent the last 15 years doing remedial work with high school-age students.
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