Phew! I just finished Anthony Horowitz's Crocodile Tears, book 8 in the Alex Rider series, and I kinda feel like I need a minute to catch my breath. One of my favorite things in the world is a book that you literally just can't put down, no matter how inconvenient that might be. . . and after spending a couple days trying, only partially successfully, to navigate life with my head buried in Crocodile Tears, I can say with confidence that it fits that description to a T. (You try making and eating breakfast with one hand, without taking your eyes of the pages of a book! Try getting out your wallet, pulling out your subway card, and getting on a crowded train. Not easy.)
Alex Rider has been around for a while, and it's a wildly popular series — #1 New York Times bestseller, big movie a few years ago — so I'll just give a quick recap of the premise. Alex is a 14 year-old British kid who comes from a family of spies. MI6, the British version of the CIA, recruits him for various James Bond-y missions around the world. Things blow up, Alex narrowly escapes horribly dangerous situations, a bad guy gets what's coming to him. It's nothing you haven't seen or read before, and Crocodile Tears is guilty of ripping off a bunch of spy novels for its plot, which involves a phony charity and the dangers of toying with genetic engineering. But really, who cares if it's all a little derivative? When you pick up an Alex Rider book, you want to get caught up in a dense and fast paced thriller; you want to read about sweet gadgets; you want to ride through a bunch of tense, action-packed chase scenes. Crocodile Tears delivers the goods. I don't know how Anthony Horowitz comes up with all these awesome set pieces (the first big one, involving a car and a lake, is absolutely terrifying), but you almost start to feel bad for Alex after all the scrapes his author puts him through.
Of course, the payoff is explosive (literally) and very satisfying. If you've got a couple days during which walking around only partially aware of your surroundings won't be a big issue, I highly recommend that you pick up Crocodile Tears. But be warned, once you start it, you won't want to put it down!
Have you read it? If so, what did you bump into? Let me know in the comments! If you like this author, you should also check out his other series The Gatekeepers.
— Jack, STACKS Writer