|Series||Alex Rider series|
|Genre||Adventure, spy, thriller|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||240 pp (first edition, paperback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-7445-5943-X (first edition, paperback)|
|Followed by||Point Blanc|
Stormbreaker is a 2000 New York Times Bestselling young adult novel by British author Anthony Horowitz and the first novel in the Alex Rider series. The book was released in the United Kingdom on 4 September 2000 and had its United States release on May 21, 2001. Since its release, the book has sold more than nine million copies worldwide, been listed on the BBC's The Big Read, and in 2005 received a California Young Reader Medal.
The book begins with Alex Rider learning of the death of his uncle and adopted parent, Ian Rider. He is told that Ian died from being in a car accident where he was not wearing a seat-belt, which Alex and his housekeeper find strange. Alex attends the funeral of his deceased uncle where he meets Alan Blunt, who he describes as a boring, emotionless, gray person.Then Alex cuts school, and decides to investigate. He discovers his uncle's car at a wrecking yard, which was not destroyed, but had bullet holes on the windshield. After a near escape from a car crusher, Alex is asked to visit Ian's former employers, a bank called "Royal & General", actually a front for an MI6 spying operation. MI6 head Alan Blunt and his deputy, Tulip Jones, inform him that a successful businessman, Herod Sayle, has built a revolutionary new computer, the Stormbreaker, and will give one free to every secondary school in the United Kingdom, accompanied by a grand activation ceremony in the Science Museum (London). MI6, however, were suspicious and had deployed Ian Rider, Alex's uncle, to investigate. When Ian had become alarmed by the activities he witnessed, he tried to report to MI6. He was assassinated by Yassen Gregorovich on the return to London. MI6, now deeply alarmed, forcibly recruit Alex and put him through a gruelling SAS training camp (where he earns the derogatory nickname "Double O Nothing" from initially prejudiced operatives). Shortly afterwards, he is deployed to Herod Sayle's base in Cornwall (using the alias of another boy who won a competition to visit the plant), equipped with no weapons and only some gadgets given to him by an agent named Smithers. He is given a grapling hook disguised as a yo-yo, acne cream, and a Game Boy Color which functions as a map and smoke screen. Sayle shows Alex around his mansion, which houses a large jellyfish aquarium containing a large Portuguese Man o' War jellyfish. Alex also meets Mr. Grin, a henchman who's name derives from his time as a circus performer, catching knives with his teeth. An accident left him without a tongue and two large scars which give him the appearance of constant smiling.
Initially the trip goes well, with Alex finding a cryptic diagram made by his Uncle Ian in the canopy of his bed. However, Sayle grows to dislike Alex. While investigating the base, Alex sees several of Sayle's agents unloading metal cases with great care from a nuclear submarine. When one of the agents drops a metal case, he is promptly shot dead by Yassen Gregorovich. Alex decides to head to the local library to do further investigations, but finds himself attacked by several armed guards on quad bikes, one of whom collides with an electric fence while the other falls from a cliff face.
While searching the library, Alex finds a map in a book about tin mining which matches the diagram left by Ian. He also learns that Ian had borrowed several books about viruses, and assumes that Sayle plans to use the Stormbreaker network to release a computer virus. Alex investigates the mine and, following the path left by his uncle, discovers a large computer manufacturing facility, where the Stormbreaker computers are being filled with a strange fluid. Alex realizes that the 'viruses' being investigated by Ian were not computer viruses, but biological weapons. Alex is detected, and nearly escapes but is eventually caught and tranquillized. When he comes to, Herod explains to Alex his plan.
When Sayle attended school, he was bullied because of his accent and skin colour. The worst bully was none other than the future Prime Minister. As a result, Sayle plans to embarrass the Prime Minister by his "April Fools Joke"; when the computers are activated by the Prime Minister, the virus, a potent strain of smallpox, will be released into every school in the country, killing the children. Sayle brags that "a spoonful of the stuff would destroy a city!".
Alex is then left handcuffed to a radiator, until Nadia Vole, an assistant of Sayle's, frees him, claiming that she is a fellow spy who worked with Ian Rider. However, as they head to find a mobile phone to call MI6 and inform them of Sayle's plan, she triggers a trapdoor which drops Alex into the jellyfish tank. Alex eventually gets free by using the acne cream gadget to damage the tank's supporting iron girders, causing it to burst. Unfortunately for Vole, she was directly in front of the tank when it burst, releasing the immense jellyfish and causing it to land right on her, killing her instantly. Snatching up a harpoon gun, Alex rushes outside to find that Sayle's private helicopter has already left, leaving only a cargo plane on the tarmac. Using the handle of the harpoon gun, Alex knocks out a guard, taking his jeep and pistol. As he starts the jeep, several other jeeps start to pursue him as the cargo plane starts to take off. Through some fancy driving and good fortune, Alex manages to cause the destruction of the hostile jeeps. Tying the nylon cord of the yo-yo gadget to the harpoon with the yo-yo clipped to his belt, Alex shoots the harpoon which catches on the underbelly of the airborne plane. Using the gadget, he gets himself on to the plane where he confronts the pilot, who is none other than Mr. Grin. Alex instructs Mr. Grin to fly to London by threatening him with the pistol.
When they are finally over London, Alex realizes that there is not much time left before noon. He spots several parachutes and uses one to jump off the plane. Mr. Grin turns the plane around hoping to ram into Alex. Alex pulls out the Game Boy Color and activates a cartridge disguised as a game called "Bomber Boy" that he left inside the cargo plane. Unable to see, Mr. Grin loses control of the plane and fatally crashes into a dock near the River Thames. Alex crashes through the roof of the Science Museum and dangles from his parachute which had gotten caught on a beam. Alex draws the gun he took from a guard back at Sayle's mansion and fires blindly at the Stormbreaker computer, one hitting the Prime Minister and Sayle himself being struck by two more, though he inexplicably vanishes. Mrs. Jones saves Alex's life by ordering security not to open fire on him. MI6 immediately recalls all the computers, citing "safety issues".
Later, after a debriefing by Alan Blunt and Mrs. Jones, Alex enters a taxi. The driver is in fact Herod Sayle who holds Alex at gunpoint. He leads Alex to the top of a building where he is about to shoot Alex, but is himself shot by Yassen Gregovich, who lands in a helicopter. Alex questions Yassen about why he shot Sayle. Yassen replies with, "Those were my instructions," and, Sayle was 'embarrassing', so he had to be eliminated. Alex tells Yassen he will one day kill him, but Yassen brushes aside the comment and tells Alex to drop the spy business and become a normal schoolboy again. He then leaves in the helicopter. Just before it goes out of sight, Alex sees Yassen 'salute' him.
Critical reception for Stormbreaker was mixed to positive, with the book being placed on multiple ALA lists. Commonsensemedia praised Stormbreaker for its action sequences, but criticized its dialogue and logic. Kirkus Reviews also commented that the book's plot was "preposterous" but stated that the readers "won't care".
- Wisconsin Golden Archer Award (2003)
- Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award (2004)
- Utah Beehive Award (2004)
- California Young Reader Medal (2005)
- Iowa Teen Award (2005)
- South Carolina Junior Book Award (2005)
In 2005 a graphic novel adaptation of Stormbreaker was released in the United Kingdom and the United States. The graphic novel was an adaptation of the screenplay written for the movie released the same year, and was intended as a tie-in for the film.
In 2006 a film adaptation of Stormbreaker was released to theaters starring Alex Pettyfer as Alex Rider and Geoffrey Sax directing. Critical reception for the film was average, with Stormbreaker holding only a 33% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus being that the film was "strictly children's fare, as it lacks originality, excitement, and believabiltity".
A video game adaptation of the film was released in 2006 under the name of Alex Rider: Stormbreaker for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. The game received mixed reviews, with IGN criticizing the game and giving it a rating of 4/10.
- "New York Times Bestsellers".
- "BBC - The Big Read". BBC. April 200bbc3. Retrieved 1 December 2012
- "California Young Reader Medal".
- "Review: Stormbreaker". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- "Top Teen Titles #35-39". School Library Journal. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- "Stormbreaker (Alex Rider Adventures, Book 1) by Anthony Horowitz - Book Review".
- "Review: Stormbreaker". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- "Stormbreaker filming finishes". BBC News Online. 2005-08-14. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-07-09.
- "DS Gets 'Stormbreaker' Movie Product Placement". Gamasutra. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- "Review: Alex Rider: Stormbreaker". IGN. Retrieved 22 January 2013.