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"You're never too young to die." –Never Say Die
Alex Rider: Never Say Die
Alex Rider Series #11
by Anthony Horowitz
Alex is now living in San Francisco, trying to recover from the tragic death of his caregiver, Jack Starbright. Alex was forced to watch Jack’s murder at the hands of terrorists working for SCORPIA. With Jack gone, Alex struggles to find his place. When he gets an unexpected and cryptic email, he’s sure it’s from Jack. In an attempt to prove that Jack is alive, Alex boards a flight to Egypt and begins searching for clues to Jack’s whereabouts.
Alex’s story jumps from Egypt to France to Wales. As Alex searches for Jack, he comes face to face with twin brothers, who plan to kidnap the children of the wealthiest citizens of the world. Soon Alex is caught up in a tangle of intrigue that may lead to his death.
Packed with action, unexpected twists, and a mystery, Never Say Die will catch readers’ interest from the very first page. Alex is a strong character, who uses his brains to get out of difficult situations. The story descriptions will carry the reader into Alex’s world—a world that is often filled with fear. The evil twins and the people who help them are vicious criminals who have no problem murdering anyone that is perceived as a threat. Their willingness to kill and the violent descriptions of the creative ways they murder may cause some readers to have nightmares. Anthony Horowitz tells an engaging story that deals with terrorists, murder, and kidnapping.
- A woman kills two pilots by using tetrodotoxin. It “is extremely fast-acting, shutting down a person’s nervous system in minutes. Brad struggled to his feet but died before he was halfway there . . . Sergeant Brad Perkins stared up at her with empty eyes.”
- Later in the story, the same woman tries to poison Alex. “The deadly poison, tetrodotoxin, shot silently across the room and penetrated his jacket. Alex jerked backward, his shoulders slamming into the door. . . Slowly, he slid down to the floor and lay still.” Luckily, the poisonous dart only hits his wallet. Alex and the woman scuffle. “She was strangling him. The pupils were dancing in her eyes, and her lips were stretched in a smile as she used her weight to press him down, her hands gripping tighter and tighter.” Alex is able to grab a bedside light. “With the very last of his strength, he swung it into the side of the woman’s head. He felt metal connect with bone . . . Dragana keeled over and lay still.”
- Alex has nightmares about his past when two men tied him to a chair and force him watch a video of “the person he most loves” die. “The car drove out of the fort and into the desert. And then, as it had done the night before and every night after . . .it blew up.”
- Alex stops two boys from harassing a young boy. The boys retaliate. “Colin swung the knife, aiming for Alex’s chest . . . Alex took hold of his wrist with one hand and his elbow with the other . . . Colin’s hand with the knife rushed past him.” The knife accidentally “sliced across Clayton’s arm.” Colin then tries to hit Alex, who avoids the punch. “Alex was standing next to a lamppost. Colin’s fist slammed into the metal. Alex actually heard his fingers break.”
- A man tries to capture Alex. The man with a gun tries to get out of a car when “Alex kicked out, slamming the door. The man shouted and fell back . . .” Alex is able to escape.
- A group of men try to kill Alex. During the scene, which takes place over approximately six pages, Alex is forced to defend himself. One man is knocked unconscious when Alex drops a cannonball “on the side of his head.” Alex makes a cactus bomb and throws it at a man, hitting him in the face. “It didn’t bounce off. . . Instead it stuck there, with at least a dozen spikes piercing his lips, his cheeks, the side of his nose and one of his eyes, each barb injecting its poison into his nervous system.” One of the men tries to stab Alex, but the man is shot. “. . . His hand became a splash of red and the knife spun away. A second shot, and he was thrown onto his back. Alex knew at once that he wouldn’t be getting up again.”
- In order to escape from bad men, Alex makes a trap that causes an explosion. The men “both screamed and reeled backwards, crashing into each other. The whole of the bald man’s head seemed to catch fire for a few seconds . . . The other man had thrown himself down. He was rolling over and over on the carpet, his clothes blazing.” As Alex tries to escape, one of the men shoots a woman.
- Two brothers have their father killed. “. . . Carlo was gunned down in his Jacuzzi by his own bodyguard . . . With Carlo gone, the brothers took control of the family, and the next few years were bloodier and more violent than any that had gone before.”
- The two brothers go to the hospital to kill a woman by using a trick. “It was one of their favorite tricks, and they would take turns—one watching, one doing the actual work. The wire went straight up her nose and into the medulla oblongata, the nerve mass located at the lower base of the brain . . . she was dead before she knew what had happened.”
- Two brothers catch Alex spying and tie him to a chair, “his hands tied behind him, the rope so tight that it was cutting into his flesh.” The brothers intend to kill him by using “cement shoes.” A man padlocks a cement block around Alex’s ankle and throws him into the ocean. Alex is saved by a scuba diver.
- In an attempt to escape, Alex attacks a man with a nail. Alex “smiled with satisfaction as the point drove into Stallone’s neck. Stallone howled and fell back, blood spurting out between his fingers.”
- The two brothers give a woman cyanide. “She had suddenly become very still. In fact she was staring at the ceiling with empty eyes. Her tongue was sticking out of the corner of her mouth. Her face had gone mauve.”
- The two brothers kidnap a van full of children and hold them for ransom. When the parents try to negotiate, the brothers discuss killing one of the children. “The important thing is to make sure it’s one of the poorer children. We don’t want to upset any of the billionaires.”
- When attempting to save the children, a woman takes out one of the bad guys. She hits him with a chisel. “But it was the wooden handle that slammed into his skull, and with a grunt, he fell to one side . . . He was out cold.”
- As Alex and his friend lead the children to safety, the bad guys try to recapture them. The scene takes place over about a chapter and a half. A security guard dies saving Alex’s life. “Alex saw spatters of blood appear across Philby’s back, forming hideous red stains that spread through his shirt.” During the escape, Alex sets fire to a structure. “Several of the guards had been caught in the blaze. He had heard them screaming.”
- During the escape scene, Alex puts a thermos in a train’s chimney causing an explosion. The brothers “didn’t even know it had happened. They simply felt a jolt as if some gigantic gust of wind, coming out of nowhere, had hit the Midnight Flyer on its side.” They crash into the face of a mountain. One of the men on the train knows he is going to die. “His face, already badly burned, distorted one last time in sheer terror as the steam locomotive smashed into a solid wall of rock.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- One of the character’s “career had ended following a drunken fight with another pilot. She was twice his size, but even so, she had put him into the hospital. In fact, he was still there.”
- A character had “drunk too much wine. The third bottle was definitely a mistake, and she had felt quite giddy as she had climbed into the taxi. . .”
- Two of the characters help in their father’s business. “Even as teenagers, they loved the idea of becoming gangsters and had actually helped their father on occasion—for example, carry drugs inside their teddy bears on international flights.”