Alex Rider is one of my favorite kid spies as I already talked about in an earlier post (Alex Rider vs. CHERUB). It is also a series and as such is subjected to the curse of series. On the one hand you love them because you have so many of them to enjoy, but then the fear creeps in. What if they aren’t as good as the first one?!!! I absolutely loved the first Alex Rider book, because it was amazing and if you haven’t read it then you totally should as it comes before this book, and reading books out of order is like one of my biggest pet-peeves. Like I can’t do it at all!!!! Warning: Spoilers ahead.
But back to Alex. He is this adorable fourteen year old kid, who just wants to have a normal kid life and go to school and have a crush on a cute girl and do algebra homework. He doesn’t want to be sucked into the intrigue that threatens the world at every turn…but sometimes life happens and you end up on the bottom of the ocean facing a man-eating great-white shark.
After the drama of the previous two books, Alex starts “Skeleton Key” completely done with spy work and MI6 knows it. So they cleverly entice him to do some surveillance at a national tennis match, because how could any kid turn that down. On this extremely low-key surveillance mission, Alex nearly gets killed by a Chinese gang, uncovers a drug tampering scheme, and develops a crush on the fabulous girl Sabina.
Due to attracting a lot of unwanted attention from the Chinese gang, Alex is sent off on a mission with the CIA in Cuba. Just a routine smile-and-look-pretty-but-don’t-do-any-of-the-dirty-work mission. Hahaha as if. Alex is quickly embroiled in a plot unlike any he has ever encountered. A crazed Russian fanatic is trying to blow up the world with a nuclear bomb and has a strange connection to Alex due to Alex’s resemblance to his dead son. As such Alex has a front row seat to the destruction of mankind and must somehow try and save the world!
Stuff I really really liked!
1. I really loved how Alex finds a new friend and is able to have a little bit of normalcy with her family. Sabina is totally awesome and I think she should be a spy too. I mean she saves Alex’s life when he nearly drowns surfing. Anybody who can do that can save her country too, right?
2. I loved how the story surprised me at every turn. I totally did not see it ending up the way it did. I mean to kill off two pretty central characters in a kids book is a bold move, but it gave the story a sense of reality and a weight that I wasn’t expecting. It was perfect for showing how in the spy world there are real causalities and these causalities effect those that knew them.
3. I love the way that the story goes into the back story of why Alexei Sarov is a crazy fanatic. The story shows how Sarov has a deep connection to his son and a real love of his country. It makes him believable as a villain. Now I’m not saying he’s admirable at all. He’s totally crazy for wanting to blow up the world, but at the same time you can see how he got that way and how he has suffered. He really does want to make his country great again, he’s just seriously misguided about how to do it.
Stuff that was not so great.
1. I really want a kid spy to represent the girls. As I’ve already said, Sabina would be a great choice, but I would take anyone at this point. Alex needs a side-kick and who better than a girl spy?
2. I really hate how the adult spies treat Alex. They see him as a tool and not a human being, so when he walks away and says he’s done they don’t honor his choice. They find a way to manipulate him back into the spy world. He really needs someone to watch his back and be able to defend him against the adults who just want to use him for his skills. Actually, the CIA spies are much better at being concerned about Alex’s welfare then his own agency, but if he wasn’t back in the spy game we wouldn’t have a story.
I adore these books and “Skeleton Key” is my favorite Alex Rider book yet, which is saying something since I loved the first one too. So if you want to have all the cute cinnamon roll feels you should read this book!
Do you have a favorite spy book? Have you read any Alex Rider? What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments below!
Horowitz, A. (2003). Alex Rider: Skeleton Key. Philomel Books.
Photo by Allen Allen
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