Scorpia Rising by Anthony Horowitz. Philomel, 2011
(Review copy provided by publisher)
Saying goodbye to a much loved book character is such a bittersweet experience. I find myself thinking of Harry, Hermione and Ron sometimes and wondering how they are and what they are doing. Alex Rider is another character who has grown dear to my heart over the course of his adventures. The series has gained strength with each book. It was book #3-Skeleton Key, where Horowitz raised the stakes for the young spy and took the story to a new level. I have been an unstinting fan ever since.
After the Percy Jackson series, these are the books that I end up in discussions with guys about, most often, at the different schools I visit.
When Alex was recruited by MI-6 for a unique mission, in the wake of his Uncle Ian's death, (#1-Stormbreaker) he could not have imagined what the next year would bring. Single-handedly responsible for thwarting the plans of the horrific Scorpia crime syndicate, Alex believes he is finally free of MI-6 and the world of spies and danger. He is living in London with his guardian, Jack, and enjoying a return to normal life as a teenager. Jack herself is contemplating a change, hoping to return to her own family in the USA. Still, Alex cannot ignore his instincts and training which detect the presence of a sniper, pointing a gun into his school classroom. He pursues the man and in doing so, joins the game again.
Ingenious gadgets and disguises are part of the mix here again. His assignment takes Jack and Alex to Alexandria, Egypt. What he does not know is that this time, Alex himself is the target and old enemies have joined forces against him. This is by far the darkest of the novels. Alex has been through too much emotionally and physically. There are things that occur that may give the reader pause but Horowitz has put a great deal of thought into this finale. He offers Alex a sort of expository reflection to explain his actions at one point. It will be up to the reader to decide if the ending is wholly satisfying. There is a part of Alex that loves the spy business. I think Horowitz wanted to resolve his future once and for all. Of course, once these characters arrive in the reader's imagination, they take on a life of their own. I, for one, will continue to think about Alex and wonder what he is doing.
It has been a grand ride.