Russian Roulette

He can still do it. Both Daughter and I have been spellbound by the Alex Rider prequel from Anthony Horowitz. It’s a read-in-one-sitting kind of book. There is almost no Alex Rider in the story, which is hardly surprising since it takes place before he was born.

Anthony Horowitz, Russian Roulette

What we get in his place is his arch-enemy Yassen Gregorovich, aged fourteen. They are remarkably similar in many respects. We have always known they share something, and that Alex’s dad knew Yassen.

I wonder how much of what we learn about Yassen was something Anthony already knew when he wrote the Alex Rider books, and how much he has ‘simply’ tied up loose ends? No matter. What we have here makes for compulsive reading and it is very exciting.

Yassen has to learn to survive by working hard, learning his killer skills from the experts, unlike Alex who mostly goes off with some MI6 gadgets and hopes for the best. We know from the start that Yassen’s task is to kill Alex. We also know that he can’t succeed, but that doesn’t detract from the suspense.

This is an interesting portrait of the new Russia, and the greed and wealth of newly powerful men. You root for Yassen, all the while knowing you mustn’t, and it’s hard to let go of the idea that they can all be friends at the end. (I had a theory about him, but it proved to be wrong.)

Great stuff! I hope I’ll never be too old for this kind of spy story.

(Daughter finished the book – before me, obviously – and then filled her suitcase with the complete Alex Rider series, just so she can have it close to hand.)

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