Series: Alex Rider
Published in: 2001
Age Range: Young Teens
14-year-old Alex Rider is asked once again by MI6 to go on a mission: this time, to infiltrate an exclusive Academy set high in the French Alps. He masquerades as the son of a well-known businessman. On his way there, he is drugged in a French hotel and surgically examined. When he reaches the academy, he finds the behaviour of some of the boys disturbing.
Overall, the story smacks openly of James Bond machismo. The characters play their roles as good guys or bad; the necessary incidentals do their stuff; the sentences are nice and short and explain everything you want to know. It relies on the racy plot and tension to carry the story, but even there I feel it's let down. I'd stopped caring long before I found out the (fairly predictable) explanation for everything. One fairly obvious plot flaw revolves around the fact that Alex was drugged — and his character must have known that he was — but he makes no mention of it later, nor does the woman who drugged him.By and large, there's little objectionable; there are Bondesque scenes, though, which jar. The story opens with an episode in which Alex takes the law into his own hands by using a crane to lift the houseboat home of two drug pushers and drop it — accidentally — onto a nearby conference centre, currently hosting a police drug-awareness seminar. He causes millions of pounds of damage, but it's all covered up by MI6. Later, learning his role as the make-believe son of a rich businessman, he stays at the man's house, encounters his spoilt daughter who plays the glamour girl, coming out of the swimming pool. She and her friends then pick on Alex when they go shooting in the woods, and Alex loses his temper and throws the expensive gun of one of the boys into a lake.
“It has always been my frustration that I will never be able to communicate to the world the brilliance of what I have done. Well, since I have you here — a captive audience, so to speak — I shall allow myself the lixury of describing the Gemini Project. And when you go, screaming, to your death, you will understand that there was never any hope for you. That you ocould not hope to come up against a man like me and win.”
Tuesday 1st January 2002