Over the weekend, when I wasn’t figuring out Google Wave, I finished Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz. Stormbreaker (as well as Haddix’s Among the Hidden) was the first YA book I read as a junior high teacher and it helped me to see how that market of books has developed over the years. If you remember my review of Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman, I made reference to how much I enjoyed Scorpia (my favorite of the series) and how Ark Angel was a letdown for me. (Yes, I’ve read Snakehead.)
As I began Crocodile Tears, I thought, “Can this get me back from ‘I enjoy the series’ to ‘I rave about the series’?”
I love how Horowitz starts out the novels with an opening scene much like a James Bond movie. We see minor characters involved in some sort of trauma, introducing a sliver of the main conflict. We also don’t see Alex Rider, for the most part. Chapter one gets you hooked with a disaster at a nuclear power plant. A charity swoops in to help immediately and we are instantly suspicious that the charity may have known ahead of time when the disaster was going to happen.
I was nervous, at first. I’m a huge supporter of helping out wherever you can, even internationally, so I was hoping that Horowitz would not paint a jaded view on aid organizations. There’s a great conversation where Alex Rider is defending people who donate because it’s the right thing to do, not because they’re playing some kind of game.
Desmond McCain is a good villain in the spy movie sense. There are some times where the cheaper, easier way to win would be to just kill Alex and be done with it. Nope. Just like it’s mentioned in Pixar’s Incredibles, the villain monologues and explains the plan, trusting the henchmen to finish the job. Not the most logical way to enact your evil schemes, but it definitely fits the style.
A student and I had debated on whether Alex Rider had actually killed anyone in his books. The villains pursue him to the “Captain Ahab” level of obsession to their own demise. In this one it’s pretty clear: bad guy is going to kill Alex, Alex kills him first – but it’s under a spy code of morality.
- You point a gun at someone and shoot, you’re an assassin.
- You create an elaborate plan to watch the person die, you’re a supervillain.
- You create an elaborate plan using just what’s on you at the moment (perhaps feeling a degree of remorse), you’re a super spy.
Alex is angst-ier this time around.
Something that I had lost sight of is that the entire series has just been one year in Alex’s life. In other words, he has missed a TON of school. Crocodile Tears highlights this; the adults finally realize that this 14 year-old should probably attend a full day of school from time to time.
It’s definitely not the end to the series. There is still room for Alex to grow throughout the years. Crocodile Tears is an enjoyable read. (I’m still biased towards Scorpia, but I’m excited to see where the series goes.)