Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stormbreaker- Anthony Horowitz

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz is about a 14 year old orphan named Alex Rider who lives in Britain, near Chelsea. Alex's uncle, who was also his "adopted" parent, because his own parents are dead, is Alex's only family. When Ian Rider, the uncle, dies in a car crash, Alex is caught off guard. Alex knows his uncle too well to know that he would die in an accident. Ian was always prepared. He always wore his seatbelt and took every other tedious precaution.

Driven by curiosity, he finds his uncle's car in the local junkyard, except for one thing is wrong. The car is smashed in the front, but the front windshield and driver's door is covered with bullet holes. He is then taken to his uncle's work, who supposedly worked in a banking establishment. Little does Alex know that Ian Rider worked for MI6, the famous "James Bond" spy service, which explained his uncle's continual business travels. The head of MI6 recruits Alex to complete his uncle's mission, because as a 14 year old, he would not be as suspected of spying.

Alex is sent to spy on a man named Herod Sayle, an Egyptian millionaire who lives in Britain. Sayle is going to donate thousands of super-computers called "Stormbreakers" to every school in Britain, as a token of gratitude to the country that took him in when he was a poor boy in Egypt. As Alex carries out tasks given by MI6, he begins to see the remnants of the trail his uncle has left for a successor to follow. But, his youth eventually led to his capture by Sayle's men. Sayle's personal assistant, "Mr. Grin", named for the hideous scars on his face due to a knife trick gone horribly wrong, is in charge of interrogating Alex. During the process of him talking to Sayle (not Mr. Grin, who cannot talk), Alex learns the reason for donating the computers. Sayle had been abused as a boy in school for being a poor and out-of-place Egyptian boy. His biggest enemy, or bully, is the current prime minister. He wants to humiliate the prime minister by having him activate all the computers, which would seem to be a wonderful occasion across the country.
Little does he know, each computer, when activated, releases smallpox into the room. So when the prime minister activates every computer at one time, he causes thousands of deaths of the nation's children.

After telling Alex this, he throws Alex into a giant tank with a Portuguese Man O' War, the world's biggest and most dangerous jellyfish. After a daring escape from the tank, he boards a plane taking off for London. It is there, that he makes a daring encounter with Mr. Grin, the pilot. Over the museum where the minister is staged to activate the computers, Alex must make a choice. Save the country, or save himself?

Discussion Questions:
1. Why did the author kill off all of Alex's family? That is kind of cruel, and wasn't necessary.

2. Why is Sayle so determined to humiliating the prime minister to have the minister personally activate everything? He could have just had the prime minister just approve of the activation.


Brandon M. 1-2 said...

1.I think Horowitz killed off Alex's family members to give justification for just how hardened Alex is, especially at his young age. My argument is that it was necessary to kill them off also because a spy is viewed as a very independent person. Of course, without parents, Alex is extremely independent and, I feel, he is more spy like and hardened with experience.

2. Sayle has the prime minister push the button because he wants the prime minister to be the DIRECT cause of the multiple deaths across the country. He wants the prime minister to activate the computers so the prime minister can be accused of the murder and forever live a life of guilt, which is much more vengeful than if he just approved the activation.

Adam B. 7-8 said...

I think he killed off his parents because it fits the typical spy stereotype. I can' think of a spy that does have parents that are alive. I also think that he had the prime minister push the button so that he was responsible for whatever occured. The prime minister may have wanted to press the button himself so that he would be remembered for doing it.

Nathan S. 7-8 said...

I think the author killed off Alex's family because MI6 most likely would not have hired someone with any living relatives; it would be too much work to keep them protected while keeping Alex's identity safe.

Kourteney K. 1-2 said...

I think the author killed off Alex's family to help the story along. If you had your family around you would you be strong enough to put yourself through everything Alex had? I think the fact that he lost his family may fuel him to protect others, and it may give him the strength to go through the dangerous task set before him.

It seems like Sayle is determined to have the prime minister activate the computers because then HE would be at fault, Sayle would not be. The prime minister would be the cause of those deaths and Sayle would be but a small part of it in the rest of the country's eyes.