“Alex Rider: Nightshade” is the very lucky thirteenth entry in Anthony Horowitz’ extraordinarily popular Alex Rider series. Here again, the young hero is up to his neck in absurdly dangerous situations — which Horowitz makes entirely believable — fantastic though they are.
Nightshade is an organization that is almost unimaginably evil: it uses brainwashed, cute-looking, deadly children to murder people. The company’s raison d’etre is a mystery, but we know from near the beginning of the novel that part of its mission is to blow up much of the city of London. Its methods are cunning and entirely malicious; there is no room for sympathy or compassion. Only the destruction of enemies will suffice.
So Alex is dragged from his peaceful life at school back into the world of murder and mayhem. His multiple spying skills and the insane character of the deadly plots make him the only person who can unravel the horrendous mysteries of Nightshade. His involvement is absolutely required because the only relevant clue to the location, purpose, and method of the onerous organization rests in the character of the one boy who has been arrested after committing one of the murders.
Alex is persuaded to adopt the character and even the life of Julius Grief, an evil Alex clone whom Alex had killed in an earlier adventure. So off to jail Alex goes to attempt to befriend the murderous child in order to glean information about Nightshade’s plot. His adventures, as always in Horowitz’ novels, are exciting, suspenseful, and brilliantly conceived and executed by the author.
The Alex Rider series is back in full force, and young (and older) readers can celebrate its return with confidence in Horowitz’ unique talent and style. He never misses.
Review by Jack Kramer.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Philomel Books, the publisher, for review purposes.