Friday, October 31, 2008

First Clues Review: Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz

First Clues: Mysteries for Kids

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Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz

Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz

Penguin Young Adult (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-14-240612-0 (0142406120)
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-240612-0 (9780142406120)
Publication Date: February 2006
List Price: $7.99

Review written by John, Age 11, Grade 6. Date of review: October 2008.

Review: This is a review of Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz. Point Blank is the second in the Alex Rider series.

Alex Rider first appeared in the novel and movie Stormbreaker. Alex’s parents died when he was young and his uncle Ian died when he was 14. Ian was a spy for M16, British intelligence. Alex did not learn of this until after Ian’s death. Alex, with a little training, became the world’s first teenage spy and went on a mission to save the world. Point Blank begins weeks later, when he returns to school. Alex has a drug dealer at his school. In an attempt to bust the dealer, Alex ends up back in the hands of M16. He is then sent to investigate a strange finishing school. He goes in under the name of Alex Friend, son of a millionaire. He soon realizes that it is no ordinary finishing school. Not only is it located on top of a mountain peak, but only the rich and famous’ kids can enter. Another strange thing is that all of the students are 14 years old. Then, strangest of all, the schoolmaster, Dr. Grief (great name isn’t it?) with the assistance of the assistant school leader, Mrs. Stellenbosch (doesn’t she have the best name ever too?) cloned Grief several times. At the time of the book, all those clones were 14 years old. A few weeks after the arrival of a student, an evil, 14 year old clone is genetically altered to look exactly like the student. This identical Grief clone takes their place. The originals are then locked up in the basement. By the time Alex figures this out, he is the only person in the building that is not Dr. Grief, a Dr. Grief clone or one of the other school staff. Soon Alex’s real identity is discovered and he is locked up. The rest, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

The book has fast action and some realistic parts. These include his escape and what happens while he learns to imitate a criminal kid who happens to be the son of a millionaire. Against those, however there is a wealth of bad parts. One is the somewhat obvious solution. The other is that there are several unrealistic parts. This includes the part where Dr. Grief plans to have Alex dissected, live, with no pain depressors (classic part of the evil villains plan, he has the good guy at a point where he could just shoot him, but, he locks him up and waits assuming everything goes fine and the good guy dies, it never works). Also, the whole cloning thing is really fake. I don’t like that apparently Dr. Grief had cloned himself 6 years before the first publicly announced cloning (Dolly the sheep). In addition, there is a scene where Alex fights Mrs. Stellenbosch, the second in command, at point blank. In the battle, Alex grabs a table, tips it over, and swings around to hit her square in the back of the head. The book even states, “The blow would have knocked anyone else out, but Mrs. Stellenbosch barely faltered”, really unrealistic. Finally, is how Dr. Grief is killed. I shouldn’t tell you how; you’ll have to read the book. Even so, I think many people will like the teenage almost James Bond kind of character and will be on the edges of their seats. The end will keep them there until the next book. Even though I found there to be more criticisable things than not, I think the book overall is good. I liked this book and have read six other books in the series. I would recommend Alex Rider to anyone who likes fast action books with sometimes-unforeseen endings.

Alex Rider books have won the Booktrust Teenage Prize.

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