Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Book Review - Never Say Die

After a weird reading slump (that's the only why I can discover the past few weeks) and then me trying to read 3 books on the go (because that's going to help me SO MUCH after crawling my way out of a reading) just so I can read/reread some books that will make me happy (have you not watched the news?!).

And this seems the perfect place to start. Truth be told, I didn't know Anthony Horowitz was bringing back Alex Rider in Never Say Die till I got the email from Walker Books, asking if I wanted to go to the book's launch party. You can read my writeup about that here. While I was there, I bought a copy and started reading it on the way home that night.

After the shocking and heartbreaking events of Scorpia Rising, Alex Rider is recovering. He's fifteen and he's done. Done with MI5. Done with risking his and the people he cares about lives all the time. And with what happened to Jack... he's done. But when he get a cryptic email, Alex finds himself in something much bigger. Scorpia might be finished, but there are still bad people who will do anything to achieve their ends. Alex must stop whatever he's found himself involved in and he must find the truth: is Jack Starbright really dead?

Am going to admit this, it's been a while since I read Alex Rider. The last book I read was Ark Angel. So returning to this world was a bit of a risk. Would it live up to how I remember the book series being? I mean, I haven't read this series for over 10 or so years.

Best way to describe my read of this is nostalgia. The first hundred or so pages, I had this very happy feeling about returning to this world and getting sucked back into this world. The writing and pacing was fast (perfect for a spy thriller like this) and the plot was interesting to read. It wasn't as huge a scale as Ark Angel (nothing can be as huge [or maybe a bit bonkers] as Ark Angel) but this felt realistic. It could happen and Anthony always have a habit of writing a fast story where the story could happen. It might seem a bit out there but it could happen.

I'm not going to gush over this book too much as this isn't flawless. No book is ever flawless with me - even my beloved Harry Potters aren't - but there's one or two things that felt off. Even though you can read each Alex Rider book separately and you have no real need to read the others, I did feel like I should go back and read Scorpia Rising. There were little references to what happened in that book and as this book involves a huge moment from Scorpia Rising, I felt like I should go back (and yet, I didn't really have a need to. Odd blend). The reason for this is, I think, because Never Say Die feels like a start of a "new, more grown-up series" within the Alex Rider series. Alex is less gadgets and more grown-up compared the the original Alex Rider novels when he was fourteen. Because of this, Anthony needs to tread a fine line where we're starting a new book in a new series (the last chapter definitely hinted that more books are to come) but, at the same time, being respectful to "original series" and respectful to the fans who have been with Alex since Stormbreaker and Point Blank.

Yes, I get some of you will go "it's unrealistic" and "how stereotypical" but it was fun. I forgot how much I enjoyed this series and I haven't read a YA spy thriller that comes anyway near Alex Rider. And with the world as it is at the moment, I think we need a bit of fun. So, hearing that ITV is going to turn this into an "older family series" gives me hope that this series could react new readers (as long as ITV doesn't mess it up!). But, as someone returning to this world, all I can say is: welcome back Alex.

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