Terrorism. Human smuggling. Drug running. Toymaking?
snakehead – n. – an organization controlling many different parts – including moneymaking schemes and crime
I was very excited when I received an advanced reading copy of Snakehead, but I had a couple of other books to read first (like when Frank Beddor visited my library, I probably needed to read his books). Now, with Snakehead coming out next week, I have the great opportunity to review the book.
Along for the Rider
- Fans of the series will not be disappointed in the action department: homemade kayaks in whitewater, magnetic coins from Smithers that remote detonate, and muay thai pitfighting. Yeah, baby!
- If you need to brush up on your geography, you’ll visit Bangkok, Jakarta, Darwin, and an oil rig.
- The return of Scorpia! (cue dramatic spy music and dancing silhouettes)
I have to admit, Ark Angel was kind of a let down compared to the gripping drama of Scorpia. Who better to complement MI6’s finest than an organization of merc spies bent on world domination and chaos? That’s right.
- We find out a lot of details about Alex’s family, especially his dad. John Rider, original super spy, coordinated/saved some pretty intense missions. We even learn of the last minutes of his parents’ lives, leading up to the plane crash/explosion.
- Actual issues: I get into a debate with the Language Arts chair about the depth of Alex Rider. Sure, there’s helicopters (a must in any book for me) but Alex’s search for his history is something that many of my students can relate to, even if their dad has been present the whole time/not an international assassin.
For your eyes only
- This is one of those books that would be tough for a new fan to jump into. I had a student who started the series with Scorpia and didn’t get all of the character development. But, if it gets a struggling reader to read, go for it.
- If you are annoyed when spies repeat their tricks, go easy on this book. How many different ways can you explode your jail cell? I mean, really.
Horowtiz does repeat some tricks, but so do Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum. What I really like about this book is how it shows the deep connection between “light” illegal activity and the hardcore stuff that most people know is wrong.
How do terrorists get money? Check out an article from 2002 from CBS News:
Federal authorities say they have amassed evidence for the first time that an illegal drug operation in the United States was funneling proceeds to Middle East terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
Evidence gathered by the Drug Enforcement Administration since a series of raids in January indicates that a methamphetamine drug operation in the Midwest involving men of Middle Eastern descent has been shipping money back to terrorist groups, officials said.
“There is increasing intelligence information from the investigation that for the first time alleged drug sales in the United States are going in part to support terrorist organizations in the Middle East,” DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson said.
Horowitz shows the connection between drugs and terrorists, as well as Bangkok sweat shops and cheap toys being made under inhumane conditions. Mix your kung fu with your global awareness.
Fans of the series will be very excited, as well as students who are getting into the spy scene through shows like Chuck and movies like Bourne Ultimatum. I predict that this one will do very well in my library.