First edition cover
|Series||Alex Rider series|
|Genre||Adventure, Spy novel, thriller novel|
|1 April 2005|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|ISBN||0-7445-8324-1 (first edition, paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.H7875 Ar 2005|
Ark Angel is the sixth book in the Alex Rider series written by British author Anthony Horowitz. The novel is a spy thriller which follows the attempt by the title character, Alex Rider, to foil the plot of a Russian billionaire.
Maximilian Webber, a former SAS man, gives a speech denouncing a terrorist organisation known as Force Three. After the speech, he is contacted on his mobile phone by an unknown man who declares him an enemy of Force Three. The phone explodes, killing him.
Meanwhile, Alex Rider is recuperating in hospital after being shot at the end of his previous mission. He meets Paul Drevin, the son of a Russian billionaire Nikolei Drevin. One night, four men break into the hospital and attempt to kidnap Paul but Alex manages to overpower them. However, he is captured by Kaspar, the leader, and imprisoned in an abandoned building where the men reveal themselves to be members of Force Three. The men set fire to the building after realising that Alex deliberately foiled their plan to kidnap Paul. Alex manages to escape from the fire by tightrope walking to an adjacent building and returns to the hospital, where he is debriefed by John Crawley, an MI6 agent, and later discharged. Back home, Nikolei Drevin invites Alex to stay with him for two weeks as thanks for preventing his son from being kidnapped. As Alex’s doctor has recommended that he take a holiday so he can relax and recuperate, he accepts.
Alex meets Drevin and his unpleasant assistant, Tamara Knight, at a hotel where Drevin is holding a press conference about his space project, Ark Angel; it is set to be the first-ever space hotel. Alex is treated well by Drevin, but he starts to have suspicions about him when he realises that Paul just happened to have no guards around on the night Force Three broke in, despite claims of always being 'a target’. Stumbling into Drevin’s private study, Alex discovers that Drevin owns the building where Alex was interrogated by Force Three. The following day, Alex participates in a race on Drevin’s private go-kart track; Alex beats Drevin when the man attempts to cheat and injure Alex, revealing his hatred of losing. Later, Alex watches a football match at Stamford Bridge with the home team, Chelsea, up against Drevin's team, which loses. Once more Alex encounters Force Three, who are giving a medal to the footballer who missed the final penalty. Alex is briefly taken by one of the Force Three men but manages to get away. Alex tells Tamara Knight about Force Three, but the footballer is killed when the medal, made of caesium, catches fire.
Drevin, Tamara, Alex and Paul fly to New York City, but Alex is apprehended at the airport by an immigration official who claims that his passport is expired. This turns out to be a ruse by the CIA so they can bring Alex to Joe Byrne, the chief of the CIA. Byrne reveals that the CIA have conducted an investigation into Drevin's wealth and discovered that most of it is attained through contacts in the underworld and plans to arrest him for money laundering. However, Byrne is worried that Drevin will slip away from the CIA's hands, so he assigns Alex to report to him if he sees anything amiss at Flamingo Island, Drevin’s private island, from where Ark Angel will be launched. Smithers, the gadget master at MI6, arrives and provides Alex with gadgets. On Flamingo Island. Alex manages to intercept a phone call from Drevin who will be meeting someone the following night. Later, however, Drevin finds out about Alex's identity and decides to have him killed by sending him to dive into a shipwreck, in which he is locked in. Right when Alex is about to run out of air, Tamara appears and saves him, revealing that she has been Joe Byrne's inside man all along. The two of them go undercover to investigate Drevin's meeting, and see him meeting with Force Three, but are caught when Tamara accidentally sets off an alarm.
Alex is brought to Drevin, who reveals his intention to destroy Ark Angel with a bomb and send its wreckage crashing down on the Pentagon in Washington D.C. As the project has gone over budget and Drevin can no longer finance it, he hopes to claim insurance from the disaster, as well as destroy the CIA's evidence of his illegal business practices. Mr. Payne, the island's head of security, reveals himself to be Kaspar. Force Three are just hired hands to act as scapegoats for Ark Angel’s destruction. Drevin kills all the members of Force Three (except Kaspar) and imprisons Alex. Alex escapes and meets the CIA team stationed in Barbados, but the rocket with the bomb launches off to Ark Angel. The CIA team storm Flamingo Island and Drevin attempts to shoot Alex in the chaos, but Alex dodges and Paul gets shot instead. Drevin leaves Paul and tries to escape, but his plane crashes, killing him instantly.
As there is no way to stop the bomb on the ground, Alex is to travel up to Ark Angel to deal with it manually. He encounters Kaspar but manages to overpower him using the effects of zero-gravity, and Kaspar is stabbed by his own knife. Alex then moves the bomb away so that the wreckage left after detonation will simply break up and disintegrate instead of crashing into Earth. Ark Angel explodes and Alex falls back to earth, landing a hundred miles off the coast of Australia.
Philip Ardagh at The Guardian gave Ark Angel a positive review, stating "It's perfectly pitched at its readership. Ark Angel reads the way a children's thriller should read" and "This is a welcome new addition [to the series]." However, Joe Queenan of The New York Times gave the book a more negative review. Comparing it to Charlie Higson's Blood Fever, the reviewer criticised Ark Angel for having "zero intellectual content", calling Horowitz's prose style "clunky, uninspiring". He also described Alex as "oddly bland" and "humorless".
- "Ark Angel announced". Anthony Horowitz. Archived from the original on 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
- "Ark Angel in the USA". Anthony Horowitz news. February 2006. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
- Philip Ardagh (9 April 2005). "Alex rides again". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-07.
- Queenan, Joe (18 June 2006). "Teenage Spy Books by Charlie Higson and Anthony Horowitz". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-11.