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September 23, 2008

Alex Rider Skeleton Key

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Alex Rider Skeleton Key

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Page Length: 327

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction        

PLOT SUMMARY: As the story opens, Sarov, a former General in the Russian army, has obtained a kilogram of weapons-grade uranium.  He intends to destroy the world with it and regain Russian power.   In the United States, 14-year-old Alex Rider is playing ball when Mr. Crawley, an employee of M16, a branch of the investigative department of England, approaches him.

It has just been a month since Alex Rider completed his second piece of spy work for the M16, and he is reluctant to talk with Crawley.  He says he does not want to be a spy, but a schoolboy.  Crawley assures him that he just wants Alex to help him find the reason the Wimbledon Tennis Courts have recently been burglarized.  Crawley believes Alex can do that, while he acts as a ball boy at the world famous Wimbledon Tennis Championship.  Hesitantly, Alex agrees to help. 

Alex does find there are advantages to working the tourney.  One, seeing the famous tennis players of the world compete, and the other, meeting Sabina Pleasure, another teen helping at the tourney.  Alex is surprised when two of the top ten players suffer losses to a not-so-well known Chinese player.  He becomes suspicious of a guard who he overhears talking on a cell phone. 

In his own investigative style, Alex discovers how the victories of the little known player are being made, but not without incident, where he is almost charged with attempted homicide. Once again, Mrs. Jones and Mr. Blunt of M16 rescue Alex from harm, but only to “loan” him out to the American CIA to do undercover work for them.  Although Alex feels he has been railroaded into another dangerous adventure, he agrees to be part of an undercover mission where he plays the role as son, to a couple vacationing in Cuba.

When the couple does not return from a scuba diving trip, Alex begins another adventurous, action packed investigation where he meets General Sarov and learns of his plan to destroy the world.

REVIEW: I found the third book of the Alex Rider series as intriguing as the first two.  Anthony Horowitz does a great job of creating suspense in his writing.  He also writes with vivid descriptions, which the reader can realistically imagine.  I think anyone who enjoys mystery, suspense, adventure and action would like this series of books.

SUGGESTED TEACHING AREAS:  Leisure reading, Sequence of Events, Drawing Conclusions, Predicting Outcomes, and Making Generalizations, and Descriptive Writing

RELATED BOOKS: Point Blank, Stormbreaker, Eagle Strike, Scorpia

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: “Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker” (2006), “Mission Impossible l, ll, and lll”, “The Bourne Identity” (2002), “The Bourne Supremacy” (2003), “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007)


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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