Book review: Never Say Die, by Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz, Anthony.  Never Say Die. (Alex Rider series, #11) Philomel Books, 2017. 349 pages. $17.99. ISBN 9781524739300. Ages 13+. P8Q7

This book about a brilliant teen spy is packed with crazy adventure! I haven’t read the other books, so sometimes felt like I was missing something about his motivations, but I still enjoyed it very much and felt like the character of Alex was believable, even though unbelievable things happen to him. It was really fast paced, and I got carried along and wanted to see what would happen next.

VERDICT: Any teen who likes action/ adventure movies or books will love this one.

January 2018 review by Siletz Public Library volunteer.

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Book review: Scorpia: The Graphic Novel, by Anthony Horowitz, adapted by Antony Johnson, illustrated by Emma Vieceli

Horowitz, Anthony. Scorpia: The Graphic Novel. (Alex Rider Action Adrenalin Adventure). Adapt. by Antony Johnson. Ill. by Emma Vieceli. Candlewick, 2016. $14.99. 176p. ISBN 978-0-7636-9457-5. Ages 9-12. P8Q8

Alex Rider, a 14-year-old spy for MI6, faces danger during his infiltration into Scorpio, an assassins’ syndicate with ties to his dead father, during his school trip to Venice. His responsibility is to stop the release of a weapon that could kill thousands of innocent British school children, but he is afraid that his father has been one of the bad guys.

Verdict: Like the original from 2006, this is an exciting, fast-paced romp.

November 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Eagle Strike: The Graphic Novel, by Anthony Horowitz, adapted by Antony Johnson, illustrated by Kanako and Yuzuru

Horowitz, Anthony. Eagle Strike: The Graphic Novel. (Alex Rider Action Adrenalin Adventure). Adapt. by Antony Johnson. Illustrations by Kanako and Yuzuru. Candlewick, 2012. $14.99. 176p. ISBN 978-0-7636-9256-8. Ages 9-12. P8Q8

Horowitz’s popular series about teenage spy Alex Rider has been adapted into graphic novels as the boy keeps getting drawn into violent adventures. This mystery, set in southern France, depicts the MI6 agent tracking down the attackers of his hosts, his possible girlfriend Sabina Pleasure and her family. In the fourth book, Alex has only 90 minutes to save the world in a virtual reality game.

Verdict: The adaptation of Horowitz’s Eagle Strike makes the graphic narrative available to an audience of reluctant readers who might prefer this format. A version of Horowitz’s 2003 book, Eagle Strike. 

November 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Ruby Redfort Pick Your Poison, by Lauren Child

Child, Lauren. Ruby Redfort Pick Your Poison. Candlewick, 2017. $16.99. 517p. ISBN 978-0-7636-5471-9. Ages10-14. P7Q7

For four earlier volumes, intrepid 13-year-old wise-cracking spy Ruby Redfort had used magical methods to subvert the evil lurking her in non-stop plots, and this fifth novel in the series is no different. When her wealthy socialite parents ground her for something she didn’t do, she babysits a neighbor’s one-year old, but can’t quit sleuthing. Familiar enemies reappear in this novel set in 1972 southern California by the English author who created the highly popular Clarice Bean series. The focus of the book is the mystery of billboards advertising a new and maybe non-existent soft drink. Lack of cultural references and an all-white cast of characters make this book seem old. Child uses codes and puzzles to interest readers, a style that doesn’t always work. One more book is projected.

Verdict: A book of adventure for fans of earlier books in the series, this title is for libraries that have the first four novels.

May/June 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Cruelty, by Scott Bergstrom

Bergstrom, Scott.  The Cruelty.  Feiwel and Friends,  2017.  $18.99.  ISBN 978-1-250-10818-0.  384 pages.  Ages 17 – 18 years.  Q7P7

Gwen’s father, a diplomat who mysteriously disappears and, for an unknown reason, the same government he works for does not appear enthusiastic to get him back (the reasons behind this are their own sub-plot). Because of this Gwen takes it upon herself to find him.  Thankfully, Gwen’s father has left behind some clues indicating not only that this might happen, but where to start looking.  This all sounds like it could be a pretty good story and it could be, unfortunately, it’s a little far-fetched as written.  Gwen’s father was taken by one of the most feared crime families in Prague, one dealing in arms smuggling and human trafficking.  In order to make the rescue achievable by a teenager, the author has to compromise the believability of some (most) of the scenarios Gwen finds herself in.  For instance, she is able to break into the warehouse of a crime boss in Munich by breaking the padlock.  A padlock is all that is needed to protect millions of dollars of stolen merchandise?  No security camera, guard, or even a guard dog?  This lack of believability is throughout the book.  Where the author is believable is the brutality, which makes me question if this started out as an adult novel, not young adult.

Verdict:  I like the idea of the story, and I like the characters, but it seems like this was a story designed for Liam Neeson to be the lead character, not a 17 year old girl, and the adaptation to make that happen did not go well.

June 2017 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: See How They Run, by Ally Carter

Carter, Ally. See How They Run: An Embassy Row Novel. (Embassey Row, #2) Scholastic, 2016. $17.99. 336p. ISBN 9780545654845.  Ages 13-15. P8Q5

carter-see-how-they-runIn the sequel to All Fall Down, Grace Blakeley, the granddaughter of the U.S. ambassador to Adria, is trying to cope not only with her realization that she killed her mother three years ago but also that the shooting of Adria’s prime minister and his resulting coma has been disguised as a heart attack. The plot follows the same pattern as the earlier book—trips through the secret tunnels, danger to the children of the ambassadors from various countries, more information about the secret “Society,” and a dead body—this one a West Point classmate of Grace’s brother. Although the book tries to keep a fast pace, the repetition of Grace’s mental issues becomes monotonous, and the intrigue is limited. The ending promises a sequel. The series does not achieve the charm and fun of Carter’s earlier Gallagher Girls series that began with I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You.

Fall 2016 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Outlaw, by Stephen Davies

Stephen Davies. Outlaw. Clarion Books, 2011. $16.99. ISBN 9780547-390178. 289 p. Gr. 6 – 12. P7Q7

davies-outlawOutlaw is a book about Jake and his sister, Kas Knight.  While in Africa, they are kidnapped.  The kidnappers demand certain terrorists be set free in exchange for the kids’ safe return.  In this daring thriller the kids are rescued by 5 mysterious figures wielding slingshots; these rescuers are known as the Friends of the Poor.  When they are mistaken for terrorists the British intelligence service – M16- gets involved.

September 2016 review by Sam Case Elementary student S.H.