Review Blog

Mar 15 2010

Crocodile tears by Anthony Horowitz

cover image

Walker Books, 2009.
(Age 10 -14) Suspended by his arms over snapping crocodiles, standing on a dam wall breaking up, in a car at the bottom of a freezing cold Loch, looking down the barrel of a Mauser gun - the impossible scenarios Alex Rider has to escape from keep coming thick and fast, especially as the novel moves to its climax.
The fourteen year old spycatcher employed by M16 is catapulted into yet another unbelievable adventure in locations ranging from a Scottish castle on New Year's Eve, to the wilds of Kenya. He is fearless, nerveless, ingenious and incredibly lucky. Bullets and spears whiz by him, flames miss him, rescuers arrive in the nick of time, he is taunted rather than shot by his enemy, buying him invaluable time - all the standard ploys of action movies are here. Like James Bond he is equipped with super clever devices which never fail, eg a swipe card which can open any door or a rubber which conceals a USB which can unlock and download any files.
The characters are not real but this doesn't deter readers. Horowitz's writing is well paced, vivid and clear. Frequent scene changes create variety and an excellent sense of place. He does his homework. He knows how to keep the pages turning.  We want to see how Alex gets out of this one. Each scenario seems more dangerous than the last. The plot's the thing. It's a formula boys love and this one will be lapped up too. I was uneasy about the vilification of charity here and I can't say how it compares with the previous seven in the series, but libraries will buy it and boys will read it.
Kevyna Gardner

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