Book Review: ‘Russian Roulette’ by Anthony Horowitz
by Anthony Horowitz Series: Alex Rider #10 Published by Walker
on 12 September 2013 Format:
An international contract killer has been given his orders. His next target is a fourteen-year-old spy ... Alex Rider. The man's name is Yassen Gregorovich. He knows Alex well. The two of them share a secret from the past. As he considers his next mission, Yassen remembers the forces that turned him from an ordinary schoolboy into a hired assassin. What is it that makes someone choose to do evil? What would it take to make them kill? This thrilling adventure will be the deadliest yet...
HUGO, AGE 10, REVIEWS
Star rating: * * * * * 5 out of 5
Wow! What a book! I didn’t know what Russian Roulette was until I read Anthony Horowitz’s prequel to the Alex Rider stories, but I do now! This story will take you on a rollercoaster ride – it’s shocking, exciting, frightening; it twists and turns and is full of the unexpected.
I loved the idea of characters with a secret identity and the global dimension of where it was set.
It’s hard to say who my favourite character was as so many of them had scary and brilliant things about them and histories to surprise you.
The whole section about Malagosto Island rocked! Prepare for the gruesome when you get to this chapter!
I got so lost in Russian Roulette that I lost hours of my life! I tried to explain the plot to my mum but I spoke so quickly of Scorpia, Sharkovsky and Yassen that she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about! It’s far too complicated to explain – especially when you’re so excited about it.
This was my first time reading an Anthony Horowitz book – it won’t be my last. The Alex Rider series is going on my Christmas list.
Guns and gore isn’t for everyone but if you’re brave enough, I can highly recommend you read this.
Thanks Mr Horowitz, the brilliant Russian Roulette is going onto my ‘Top 5 Books’ list.
RACHEL, AGED 10 ONCE BUT THAT WAS A LONG TIME AGO, REVIEWS
Star rating: * * * * * 5 out of 5
Could you sympathise with a cold-blooded killer?
What if that cold-blooded killer was planning to assassinate a 14 year-old boy?
And what if that 14 year-old boy was Alex Rider, one of the best-loved heroes of children’s literature?
What’s impressive about Anthony Horowitz’s new book, ‘Russian Roulette’, is that, for me, the answer to all those questions is yes. Horowitz has created a powerful and original story in which the bad guy is not only the ‘hero’, but also someone you wish you could save.
Some may question the morality of a children’s book that makes young readers empathise so strongly with a contract killer, but I found Horowitz’s exploration of what might cause a child to grow up to become a deadly assassin to be sensitively handled and one of the reasons why, for me, this is the best book he’s written.
In interviews going back several years, Anthony Horowitz has frequently mentioned his desire to tell the story of Yassen Gregorovich – the arch-villain from the first four Alex Rider books – and that’s exactly what he does in ‘Russian Roulette’.
As he prepares to complete his mission to ‘Kill Alex Rider’, Yassen opens his personal diary (I know, I know, this seems like a dubious framing device, but it’s stored on a memory stick and disguised as a car key, so it’s a manly murderery kind of diary, okay?). We read in horror as disaster after disaster befalls young ‘Yasha’ – orphaned by anthrax, imprisoned by a man with a swastika tattoo and tight speedos, and indoctrinated by Scorpia.
The interesting thing is that although we know what Yassen will become, we continue to root for him as he fights the intense external and internal pressures to kill. And the great irony is that the person who tries hardest to save Yassen from this cold heartless fate, is the one whose actions finally push Yassen to kill.
Horowitz is a skilled writer and manages to give this fast-paced thriller a depth and intelligence that raise complex moral and philosophical questions for young readers, even while they’re being hurtled on a headlong rush through disaster and adventure at break-neck speed.
An impressive achievement. A compelling character portrait. A great book.
So, what do you do with this new perspective on Alex Rider’s nemesis? Go and re-read the series from the beginning, obviously.