Scorpia, by Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider reread #5)

Alex listened as the two men argued, neither really listening to what the other had to say. So this was how the government worked!

It’s been seven months since Alex first got drawn into MI-6, into espionage, assassinations, nuclear attacks and constant danger. That’s a remarkably short amount of time for a fourteen year old boy to undergo so much trauma I can’t even list it here. It’s a lot of pressure, so is it any wonder that Alex might be tempted by the dark side?

Rating: 4 stars!

Alex Rider series so far:

At the end of Eagle Strike, Yassen Gregorovich is dead and I’ve entered into a period of mourning. Alex has lost faith in MI-6 who refused to believe him, he’s lost contact with the only friend who understood what was happening, Sabina, and he’s just discovered that his father was a contract killer and not a British spy. Yassen has set him on a course to discover the truth about his past and his heritage, and Alex has no ties to MI-6 to hold him back from what he wants.

The plot:

Alex has always been told he is the spitting image of his father – a man he never knew. But after finding out his father might have been a part of the most powerful terrorist organisation in the world, Scorpia, he just needs to know more. Scorpia want him on their side, and MI6 don’t seem trustworthy. Alex thinks it’s time he gives up the fight. Until he learns of ‘Invisible Sword’ that is, the plot that Scorpia have hatched to kill thousands. Can Alex stop the unstoppable?

What did I think?

The timeline in this whole series is absolutely ludicrous to me. It’s been seven months since Stormbreaker. I’ve been reading them back to back and it still feels like it should have been at least a year. Alex is fourteen for god’s sake, how is he still going? I’d have taken an eight week nap after Stormbreaker, nevermind the rest. But Alex is clearly much stronger than me, and he’s taking himself off on another adventure.

During Eagle Strike, Blunt and MI-6 refused to believe him when it came to Cray’s crazy plots and Alex was forced to take matters into his own hands. He risked life and limb, and made MI-6 look stupid when he saved the world all on his own. It’s safe to say that he’s feeling a little disenfranchised with MI-6, and he wasn’t a big fan of theirs to begin with. This book bucks the formula I talked about in the previous review a little. The pre-adventure, as I’ve been calling them, was tied into the main plot of the book rather than a separate conflict, because Alex didn’t need an excuse to get into trouble. This time he’s actually looking for it which is pretty interesting. We get an Alex who is pro-active rather than reluctant and it means we get much more hijinks.

I really enjoyed Scorpia. The line between good and bad becomes more overtly blurred throughout this novel, and while it’s been present in previous series entries it’s in Scorpia that it’s made explicit. I particularly enjoyed when the book highlighted that Alan Blunt is a monster, because I’ve been saying that from the start. There’s a real focus here on good versus bad, a little like I talked about in my Eagle Strike review, and I really love the way that it’s handled. I also love, love, love seeing Alex struggle with his place in the world. Can we have a spin off AU with Scorpia Alex? Not that I’m obssessed with dark characters or anything…

My big criticism is something I feel like a broken record over, but I refuse not to call it out because I hate it. Again we have the ‘different = evil’ bullshit. A side-character working for Scorpia has vitiligo, a skin condition that already has stigma associated with it, and the literal in text description is “he should be handsome but instead he’s a mess”. What the actual fuck? It’s awful, and totally unnecessary, and buys into this continual theme of othering anyone who isn’t white and able and ‘~normal~’ and it drives me crazy. Why is this a villainous trait? (spoiler: it isn’t, it’s just ableist). I’m nearly at the jump, when there was a gap in Anthony Horowitz writing the series and I really hope this attitude is dumped in the later books because it’s beyond tired.

A final note: Sabotage, Corruption, Intelligence and Assassination. This is so dumb that every time it was addressed it made me laugh out loud. Guys, come on, just admit you wanted to be Scorpia because it’s cool and scorpions are creepy and let’s not play crazy anagram games.

My favourite Alex line:

“Do you realise how much trouble you’re in?”
“Perhaps I’ll have some Weetabix after all.”

My rating so far:


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