Upon his uncle’s death, Alex Rider discovers that his only living relative led a double life and may have been training Alex to follow in his footsteps. The series focuses on Alex’s life as an unwilling yet effective secret agent in the employ of MI6. A friend of mine, upon reading my review of the Cherub Series, suggested that I may have been a little too harsh in my mention of Alex Rider. After due consideration, I now have to admit that she was right. Alex Rider, with all its weaknesses, is better than I thought it would be.

The main reason for my change of mind is the main character: Alex Rider. Unlike many boys his age, Alex does not want to be a spy. This is because he grasps the consequences and parameters of the occupation including the killing, violence, fear and risk. Despite a lack of positive role models, Alex is also more upright than his employers and possesses a keen sense of right and wrong. Despite his hatred for being a secret agent, he tries to complete each task for the greater good. He also shows compassion and keeps the well-being of victims and even occasionally the villains in mind. In addition the solutions presented for some situations, while unrealistic are inventive and worthy of admiration.

However, this series is still far from perfect. It is, at different points, predictable and cliché. The general plot line is, mostly, unoriginal. This is most exemplified in Skeleton Key, the second book of the series, in which any reader who has a liking for science fiction and espionage can guess the ending. Additionally the language does not sparkle with creativity. The author resorts to bluntly telling the reader what is happening, often in gruesome and graphic terms. Some may argue that these failings can be excused by the nature of the genre. I disagree. I am of the opinion that a book may either contribute to its genre or “follow the leader.” In short, I have my reservations about Alex Rider simply because there are better books out there.

Maryana Garcia is the eldest of four sisters. A student at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, she plans to major in History and is currently an employee at the Mount Albert Community Library.