Review: Andy Mulligan – Liquidator

Liquidator
Andy Mulligan

Liquidator is an amazing new sports drink that people just can’t resist drinking. It’s more addictive than Coca Cola and Coffee, and billed as being good for you! When a couple of kids stumble over the truth, they find themselves facing life and death situations, not just for themselves.

25464528So we’ve got a couple of kids are in high school and they all manage to intertwine into facing off the guys that are in charge of Liquidator. You see more and more characters being added to the visible ‘cast’, and yet you aren’t overwhelmed because the story is moving too quickly for that to happen!

What got me really really grumpy about this novel was that it wasn’t clear which person was speaking without reading the chapter headings. That being said, the different perspectives work really well and make it more are a unisex novel. There’s no romance as a refreshing highlight and it’s just generally a feel-good novel about what difference teenagers can make.

Something else that annoyed me was that it was all about Jamie Song. I didn’t understand why this one person could make such big difference. Even if they didn’t have his photos and he didn’t survive, I don’t think it would have made a huge difference to what happens at the concert. I mean of course they wanted to save him but any of the other records they had would have made a difference. Perhaps this was just a reflection that you need a human face to make a difference.

It was fascinating how the author brought together all the different story lines. I’m going to give it three stars from me, maybe an almost 4. I kept reading because even though I could see how the different plot points were going come together, I couldn’t believe how quickly they were happening.

I’ve got someone in mind that will enjoy this novel and that’s a teenage boy. Target genre right there! It’s action packed, any teen could get hooked. I couldn’t imagine a sequel for this but if it was to happen I would hope it would be as our interesting and complex as this was.

3star

Review: D.E. Wyatt – No Good Deed

No Good Deed
D.E. Wyatt

Elsabeth and Hieronymus are always getting into trouble, yet always manage to scrape out by the skin of their teeth. When Elzabeth forgoes a warning in favour of sex, things get a little more heated that she intended.

18710486This novel reminded me a bit of Robin Hood, except that the two main characters couldn’t have cared less about anyone else. But you know what? I don’t actually have a problem with that! It’s nice to have protagonists that aren’t ‘nice’ for a change. Scoundrels can get away with a lot more fun things.

Elsabeth is great at everything she does – swordfighting, sex and scams. But she’s just not very good at thinking. Compared to the other protagonist, Brother Hieronymus, she does more thinking, but damn, they’re both stupid! Why do you not get that you are being led on the whole time?

In this novel I felt like I was being spoon fed too many details. I didn’t need to think for myself at all. I was told, not shown, most of the excitement. There could have been more immediacy to the whole thing.

I received this novel from the author quite a while ago *cough cough, 2013??* but never got around to reading it because the front cover just didn’t fill me with glee. I’m giving it 3 stars now, but that’s being generous. I could put it down and pick it up far too easily.

3star

Review: Anthony Horowitz – Crocodile Tears

Crocodile Tears
Anthony Horowitz

Genetically changed crops are the next stage in feeding the world. But of course, they can also be the source of a plague. Alex Rider is pitted against someone that isn’t even the obvious threat. It’ll take his wits (as usual) to get out of it…

6566616This novel gets off to a roaring start with a party and a road accident. Things seem to go back to normal then, but of course, Alex is in the middle of something before he even notices. Alex never learns. He just can’t help himself, and so he gets into trouble, and he doesn’t know if he’ll survive. But he just has to do it! MI6 chose the right person for the job.

I find myself frustrated by the usual formula of needing to use every gadget you are given! It means that I knew how things would work out. But then again, I love gadgets, and I would have been happy to see a bunch more of them! Gadgets are way more exciting than guns.

The blurb says that this is ‘his most dangerous adversary yet’, but I don’t think it is. All of the villains get a bit same-y eventually. Their motives are usually power, or money. And they all feel the need to brag about their plans! And pretend that it’s cool that it’s a 14 year old in front of them, a bright one, but still too young to make any sort of sense of most of the stuff.

It had been a while since I read the other novels in this series, but it honestly didn’t matter. This book is a stand-alone, any extra information you might need is briefed by one of the other characters. 3-4 stars from me, simply because it wasn’t that absorbing. I got it as a talking book to listen to while I worked, and it made a lovely distraction.

3star

Review: Tracy Alexander – Hacked

Hacked
Tracy Alexander

Dan is a hacker. When he drifts from one side of the law to another in order to get justice for his friend, he suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the law – with no-one listening to what he can do to help.

22678001Ok, first off. It’s a plot driven novel. That basically means you can kiss goodbye to character development. In fact, if you ignore character development all together, you would be better off. I found the characterisation of the main character patchy, and I never really got into the motivations of the other characters.

The premise of this novel is that it is easy to cross a line with hacking on the internet. There’s a couple of different terms I could use, but the easiest is ‘White Hat’ and ‘Black Hat’. Basically, the Black Hats are the guys with a malignant intent – they want to destroy things just to prove they can. Then there are White Hats, those who find the holes in security and help out the ‘good guys’.

The ending was particularly unsatisfying. Yay, happy for everyone. But not really… I wanted more meaty bits of details! How many other people were scammed? The second half of the book was far weaker than the first.

Dan didn’t seem like he was 16 years old. He could have been younger. In fact, his friends also acted very young, with the exception of the girl he liked – who seemed a bit up herself to be honest. She saw only black and white, no grey.

I didn’t like the explanation of ADHD being the reason Dan wasn’t to blame for anything. it’s a diagnosis. It’s the first line of the blurb. But it doesn’t do anything for the story. It’s about the computers, and I don’t think the author should be trying to sell anything else with it.

Other reviewers have given this one star. I don’t think it’s that bad, honestly, provided you read it for what it is, and you hit the target market just right. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, that’s for sure.

I put off reading this novel because I was warned it wasn’t very good. I actually enjoyed it, and read it in one sitting. Granted, I had nothing else to do, but I just couldn’t seem to put it down. The more I think about it, the more holes I want to poke in it though. My initial assessment was 4 stars, and I’m going to leave it at that (err on the side of nice). It’s a driving plot that should keep people enthralled – even those people who ‘hate’ reading.

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Review: Anthony Horowitz – Snakehead

Snakehead
Anthony Horowitz
Twists, turns and family dramas. Alex Rider is embroiled in another job that is custom made for him. I often wonder what will happen to him when he grows up… or whether he ever will. Hit the jump for more.
1821571If the bad guys ever learnt not to gloat, and to shoot first, then Alex Rider would be in trouble. Instead they like to create creative ends for him, which he always manages to wriggle out of. It’s pretty close though, as a reader I’m almost always on the edge of my seat. I’m both hoping and dreading reaching the end of the series, as Alex’s luck could finally run out!
Alex has abandoned any attempt to be normal, and seems to be finally embracing the spy life. He’s not a patriot, he’s doing it only to find out what has happened to his mom and dad. Little does he know that he’s doomed from the beginning, and almost everything he trusts is a lie.
Something that fascinates me is Horowitz’s  realistic settings, and the effort he puts into being international. This is the first time he has really included Australia, which is totally typical of most writers. Australia is more of a destination than an explored place. Horowitz is very creative in the way he kills off the characters. It’s a mark of the research he obviously puts into his writing – I really appreciate it, after reading such things as ‘Twilight’ where things aren’t really thought out.
Thrilling, in fact I’d say it was one of the better books of the series. It was a little longer in length (or it felt that way). Horowitz puts his trademark twists in, as well as some gadgets, and some very nice disguises. What the reader thinks is a simple job, really never is.
I’d recommend this for teens who enjoy action. At this point in the series, I think it is essential to have read the books that came before. This book picks up straight after ‘Ark Angel’.

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Review: Anthony Horowitz – Ark Angel

Ark Angel
Anthony Horowitz

Alex Rider just can’t keep out of trouble. Recovering from a chest wound in hospital is never easy when you need to save your mate next door. Another gripping tale from Horowitz. Hit the jump for more…

94319Alex has been sniper shot when leaving MI6. He vows to himself that he will go home, rest and recover. He makes a friend in the hospital though, and when he seems threatened, Alex finds himself in action. Once again Alex must try make a case against a powerful man who has the potential to destroy the world.

Alex doesn’t seem to have many gadgets this time, although he ends up working with the CIA, it is his favourite pal at MI6 that brings him the gadgets he can use. For once there is another agent undercover with him who is able to save his skin when he gets into trouble!

Horowitz makes the book end on a cliffhanger – totally predictable to the canny reader by now. But he does make an effort to change up the plot, bringing in different spy elements. Alex is again likable, but I didn’t see that much change in his character from Scorpia. Sure, Alex wants to go home and is longing for the easy life – but this is Alex, he never does things the easy way.

I’d recommend this book for teenagers. If they have read the rest of this series, the conclusion won’t be much of a surprise, but it will leave them hankering after the next book in the series.

I have to wait now until I get my hands on the final three books… I didn’t order them in my last 10% off offer I took advantage of, and now I have to wait!

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Review: Anthony Horowitz – Scorpia

Scorpia
Anthony Horowitz

Alex Rider is a teenage spy. This time he has to choose between good and evil – but the line isn’t clear-cut and he has no idea what to do. Even if you haven’t read the other books, the beginning is good, as it quickly recapped what happened in the last book. Hit the jump for more…

542414The explanation of Alex’s father fits in with the fourth book, and if you hadn’t read it recently you might forget the significance. It’s absolutely a convoluted plot that even the audience doesn’t see coming – neither does Alex. just as you think the end is approaching, you note that the book still has a bunch of pages yet, and you know that Alex has to do something quickly to save himself!

I noticed similarities to the Bond movies/books again, but this time Horowitz acknowledges them. Alex is left without any particular gadgets this time, and so it is far more interesting to see what Scorpia equips him with. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re evil! Also, this book has more about fantastic disguises than gadgets.

The ending is shocking. If you didn’t know there were more books in the series, you’d be horrified! As it is, the ending is in clear, painful narration that makes the reader want to shout ‘No!’ but there is nothing they can do. Horowitz keeps the reader in his tight grasp the whole time.

This is mainly done by the compelling plot and narration, and also the character of Alex. Alex is well drawn, and again you can see the character development. Overall an enjoyable book. I’m going to hate reaching the end of the novel I own, and will be dying to pick up the new ones in the shops! But not for another couple of reviews sadly.

This novel is again more bloody than the last, and I’d start recommending it only for very mature children, and probably teens only.

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Review: Anthony Horowitz – Eagle Strike

Eagle Strike
Anthony Horowitz
‘Eagle Strike’ is the fourth book in the Alex Rider series. Again, Horowitz manages to produce a new plot filled with exciting action that is different from the ones before. Hit the jump for more…
851344Alex Rider is growing up. He has an almost girlfriend – who refuses to believe he is a spy. After a near fatal accident for Sabina’s father, and the recurrent presence of Yassen (a professional killer), Alex is left on his own. He’s not quite without resources – he has the requites set of gadgets all built into a special device. Certainly though, it’s a struggle because he’s against a man everyone finds likable.
The ideas in this novel I have come across before (particularly the coins – you’ll understand when you read it). Also, the gadgets are not particularly new. The video game concept was a good one, although I am sure I have read other novels that use the same idea (think Gillian Rubinstein – Space Demons).
The chase scene seems contrived, as it often does in movies, but I guess it had to be there. The novel did keep me reading to find out what happened though. The ending is a bit of a surprise, but the whole text had been leading up to it. Alex is always courting death, but we know that the hero will always survive (that’s the problem with a series).
Not a bad try for a series novel, but if it was a stand alone (and I wasn’t already attached to Alex) I wouldn’t be interested in trying more books. Probably just an offshoot of having read the four books in a row. I think this novel is equally bloody compared to the last novel.

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Review: Anthony Horowitz – Skeleton Key

Skeleton Key
Anthony Horowitz
‘Skeleton Key’ is the third book in this series about Alex Rider, a teenage spy. Alex is sent on an expensive holiday to Skeleton Key in Cuba. Well, it’s supposed to be a holiday, but really he’s there to do his job – nuclear war is coming. Hit the jump for more…
103983Alex is given the opportunity to see tennis live at Wimbledon. However, instead of the interesting time he expected to have, he uncovers a sinister plot by the Triad. He heads off on a surfing holiday with his budding girlfriend Serena, but is followed there by the Triad. MI6 says that they will put him out of harm’s way by sending him on a tropical vacation. What could go wrong? Everything in fact.
I think the most enjoyable thing of this novel was the ending, seeing Alex push through the terrors he had been through to become a better person on the other side. In this novel you can really see him grow up, and start taking an interest in girls. Horowitz has managed to take a series that could become quite stale with the same character and same spy elements and make it continue to develop.
This novel is more bloody than the first two novels (in the same way that the Harry Potter series became more adult as it progressed). I’d still say that children could read it, but not those with impressionable minds or those who were likely to be scared. If they enjoyed the first two novels, this is certainly not too much of a step forward.

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Review: Anthony Horowitz – Point Blanc

Point Blanc
Anthony Horowitz
‘Point Blanc’ follows Alex Rider, the teenage spy. This time he is sent to a prestigious boarding school for the troubled teens of rich men around the world. The action is fast paced, the hero realistic and the scenery really quite breathtaking.
224500Alex Rider, introduced first in ‘Stormbreaker’, is a reluctant spy, forced into action by MI6 (Englands’s Secret Service). Again he is up against a psychopath who wants to destroy England and all her countries. Armed with only a couple of special gadgets (not even a gun, to his great dismay) he is sent into the icy wilderness of Point Blanc.
Alex is a believable hero, not too heroic, but always on the side of good. It is hard to believe that MI6 wouldn’t care about bringing him home safe. But then again, the government never seems to have the individual’s (or even the majority’s) best interests at heart. Horowitz includes some nice scenery details – but not too much, just enough to set the scene. The narrative is again told in third person, which allows for including some extra details about the bad guys that aren’t immediately obvious to Alex.
I knocked this book over in maybe 2 hours, but it would take younger readers longer no doubt. It feels like cheating to review it, but my goal is to review ALL of the books on my shelf, not just the ones that suit me best!
The ending of the novel is quite unsettling – if you didn’t know there were more books in the series you could be seriously worried. All in all, it is an enjoyable book, and although not worth a reread by an adult perhaps, younger readers will enjoy rereading to catch each of the important turning points in the novel.
This is a great novel for the reluctant reader. Although it is probably best to read it after the first book in the series, you could probably get away with reading it first (although some of the suspense when you got around to reading the first book would be lost).

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