Monday, 30 July 2012
Book Review: Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz
The seventh Alex Rider book is a return to form, a pacy, Bondian adventure with some surprisingly adult elements. Splashing back to Earth from space following the bonkers plot of Ark Angel, the fourteen year old spy is recruited by the Australian secret service to go undercover as an Afghan refugee to get inside the Snakehead crime organisation. Alex is reluctant but can't resist the chance to work with Ash, an agent who knew his parents and is Alex's Godfather. Disguised as Afghans the pair go to Bangkok but trouble soon finds them; someone seems to know Alex's every move in advance and the lad faces grave peril including a fight in a Muay Thai arena and being locked in a hospital that illegally harvests organs from living people. As well as this, Alex finds himself once again involved with SCORPIA, the criminal organisation that killed his parents. Can the teen spy stop Major Yu's audacious plan to cause massive death and destruction?
Although having some rather implausible elements (the plan to disguise Ash and Alex as Afghans recalls Sean Connery's transformation into a Japanses fisherman in You Only Live Twice), Snakehead is an excellent read, a more straightforward thriller after the excesses of Ark Angel. Another piece of the mystery of Alex's parents falls into place and there is a sense of real jeopardy this time out with a more down and dirty feel to this novel. The locations of Bangkok and the Australian wilderness are convincingly portrayed and the action sequences have real zip, the best being Alex escaping from the Organ Farm down some dangerous rapids while being pursued by an armed helicopter. For us Bond fans there are the usual winks from Horowitz, such as the finale that evokes the end of the film Diamonds Are Forever.
Snakehead confirms that there is still much mileage left in the Alex Rider formula. Snakehead is a great read for teens and adults alike.
GK Rating: ****