Alex Rider is back! And this time, things aren’t business as usual. As the eleventh book in the series, readers are well-acquainted with the teenage spy. But did it live up to its predecessors? Keep reading to find out.
Alex miraculously survived Egypt. Jack didn’t.
Never Say Die picks up in San Francisco just a few weeks later. Alex is now living with Sabina and her family in America, attempting to live a normal life. But things aren’t going well for the British teenage spy. And when a mysterious email pops up in his inbox, there is zero chance that he is going to ignore it. Taking off halfway across the world, Alex embarks on yet another adventure, this time to find his friend. But things are never that simple. Especially when it involves some ex-Scorpia operatives.
The message had no subject. It was probably spam, and he was about to delete it when, at the last moment, something guided his hand and he double-clicked and opened it instead.
Three words appeared on the screen.
(Never Say Die, p. 30)
Once again, readers find themselves at the helm of another Alex Rider adventure. Something I never thought would happen. Never Say Die is the 11th installment in the series, if you count Russian Roulette. At the end of Scorpia Rising, readers were left with a bleak outcome for our hero. He had been broken, just barely escaping the clutches of Razim and Julius Grief. Yet, Horowitz had also dealt a devastating blow to the readers and protagonist alike when he killed Jack Starbright.
However, we should have seen the sequel coming after what happened at the end of Ark Angel. Horowitz had more of Alex’s story to tell us, and he knew that we would be all-too-eager to know it.
Never Say Die is unlike any of the books in the series because there is no Smithers, no Alan Blunt, and no England…at first. A good way to sum up the novel is that half of the book is Alex’s journey to track down Jack in the hopes that she is still alive while the other half is focused on the twin brothers Giovanni and Eduardo Grimaldi. While in many ways this book contained the same elements of its predecessors, in other ways the book has lost some of its luster. I strongly believe that it is because the book was split, almost as though there were two focal points. I know that everything is tied together at the end, but for much of the book everything felt severed.
Sadly, the antagonists also felt…absurd. In previous Alex Rider adventures, the villains always seemed to contain some level of evil and felt at least somewhat sinister. I never really got that with the Grimaldi brothers.
However, I am looking for Horowitz’s next title to be released next year (2018). Overall, Never Say Die felt like an in-between story, bridging the gap between the previous book and the next. The stage is set at the end of Never Say Die, and I can’t wait to see what adventure Alex goes on next.
He had lost his computer, and he hadn’t found Jack. He had also left a calling card that would warn the enemy he was close to them. From now on, they would take extra precautions. Nor did he know where the Grimaldis were hiding. He couldn’t even be sure they were in Saint-Tropez.
But in a way, none of that mattered.
He knew what he was going to do next.
(Never Say Die, p. 147)
Alex Rider is still every bit the hero he was in the previous titles. At fifteen years old, he is maturing and becoming less of the kid we once knew him as. At several points in the story, he took charge of the situation, whether he was working alone or giving out the orders. It was refreshing to see a confident Alex. It was even refreshing to see an Alex Rider who was not completely opposed to working with MI6. You have to admit this is not a spoiler considering what has happened in every single previous Alex Rider book 😉
It seemed that there was nothing Alex could do. He couldn’t approach the front door. The passageway was wide and well lit, and it would have been impossible to cover the area that separated them without being seen. The moment Alex turned the corner, he would be in full sight, and the man would gun him down before he had taken two paces.
(Never Say Die, pp. 293-294)
So there were some elements of Never Say Die that I wasn’t a fan of, like the villains for instance. However, there were several good element as well, such as Alex himself and all the beautiful action that I crave in a novel. So how about you? Have you picked up Never Say Die yet? If so, what did you think? Comment below.
And, as always, happy reading!