After completing two missions for MI6, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider has had enough. He knows he is resourceful, he knows he has natural physical abilities, and he knows that his uncle was secretly “training” him since he was very young. He also knows that the work is dangerous, dark, and depressing. He wants no more of it.
And yet, when offered the chance to work as a ball boy at Wimbledon in exchange for simply keeping an eye on a certain person, he relents with minimal complaint. Not surprisingly, things do not go as expected, and MI6 just so happens to have a little job for their favorite teenage operative that will help his other issue to disappear. How convenient.
Our reluctant hero once again finds himself embroiled in the midst of sinister criminals and a megalomaniac. This specific villain is not only crazy, but he has a particular affinity to young Mr. Rider, due to a striking resemblance to another young man. Alex himself wonders just how many psychotic villains are out there, anyway.
This third book modifies the formula of the previous two only slightly. Even though Alex needs to be bailed out of another jam, the original problem here was brought about by a request from MI6, instead of the usual teenage pranks as in the previous stories. The action and adventure levels are about the same, with all the usual barely believable situations and narrow escapes. I have to admit, though, that the author’s creativity and plot skills are pretty amazing. There is essentially no duplication of problems or solutions after three stories.
Rating: Mild. Five total instances of the same two mild terms as in the first two books. Would be rated none for adult readers.