Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz

Series: Alex Rider, Book Eight
Publisher: Walker
Format: Hardcover
Published: 12th November 2009
Number of Pages: 416
Book: Bought
Genre: Action, Adventure, Spy, YA-Child Crossover, YA
Recommended Age: 11+
Contains: A Lot of Violence, Mild Swearing, Difficult Subjects for Younger Readers
No Sexual, Alcohol, Drug References

Warning: Contains Spoilers From Previous Books

Alex Rider – in the jaws of death...

New Year’s Eve in Scotland and for once Alex Rider is enjoying a normal life.  But then he meets Desmond McCain, the dynamic cheif of an international charity, chief of an international charity, First Aid, and what starts as a simple card game rapidly becomes a duel to the death.  Suddenly Alex is in more danger than ever before and his life is threatened without his even knowing why.
Things get worse when he is confronte by a journalist who threatens to publish the truth about his life as a teenage spy.  Forced to ask MI6 for protection, Alex finds himself being manipulated in a deadly game that could lead to the destruction of an entire East African country.

Alone, out-numbered and with no way of escape, this is Alex’s most action-packed adventure yet.

I’ve always loved Alex Rider books, from when I read the first, Stormbreaker, I don’t know how long ago.  This one has been sitting on my shelf for a quite a while, and the main reason I finally picked it up is because the final book has just come out.  I’m annoyed I didn’t pick it up sooner, because this was a brilliant book.
Lots of people have been saying that the books are getting repetitive, but I have loved them all.  They’re fast paced, exciting, full of twists, non-stop action and I always seem to learn something from them.  Take Crocodile Tears: I’ve learnt loads about genetically modified plants, how to escape gunfire, and so much more.  And, even better, Horowitz makes learning it all fun.
Can you believe it’s been ten years since the first book in this series?  And did you know that Alex has only aged one year?  Very unfair.  But, mentally, he’s changed a lot.  As I read, I could see he’s been damaged from all the times MI6 have used him (I found myself hating them), and everything he’s learnt about himself and his family.  He’s still brave, if slightly reckless, fearless, and you can’t help admiring him.  He’s been through so much, and he’s just so strong.  And he’s still only a fourteen-year-old boy.
The supporting cast were brilliant, and, as always, believable and well padded-out.  I especially like Jack (Alex’s guardian), Smithers (an inventor at MI6) and Sabina (Alex’s girlfriend).
And as for the villain, his name was Desmond McCain, and in my opinion, he’s the worst from all the books so far.  He was seriously unhinged, and I got shivers down my spines at times when he was talking.  I know a fair few readers are annoyed when a villain sits the spy down, and says something along the lines of, “Well, this is my master plan...” but in this case it worked.  McCain was one of those that needs to gloat, and boy did he.  As I said: chills.  The second, minor villain was equally twisted, and went perfectly with McCain.
I just have to say that Anthony Horowitz is a genius.  He takes subjects like thriller, death, suspense, violence and even torture and manages to make them suitable for young or pre teens, without taking the excitement and interest out of them.  He created a book that had me 160pages through without me even looking up: I was hooked.
Obviously, I’m a fan of Horowitz and Alex, and I loved Crocodile Tears a lot.  It was one of those that made me race to get to the end, my heart pounding.  Non-stop action, never relenting, break-neck speed: three things that make the perfect action-adventure story.  Only downside: the ending was a little too abrubt.
Overall, yet another amazing book from an amazing author.  Loved it!

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
The Rest of the Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz
Cherub by Robert Muchamore (Older Readers, Teen)
Jimmy Coates (William’s Review of the Third Book: Here) by Joe Craig (Younger Readers, Pre-Teen)

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