This is a bit of a different one! I actually found out about Alex Rider Undercover after I’d already started the reread marathon. Undercover is a collection of four short stories being released and re-released for World Book Day 2020.
World Book Day 2020 is happening today, March 5th! It’s the 23rd annual World Book Day, and the aim is to promote reading for pleasure in children and young people in the UK and Ireland and to give them a book of their own! Around 15 million National Book Tokens are sent out to under-18s, and they can swap those tokens for either one of fifteen exclusive World Book Day books or get £1 off a full price book or ebook. There’s lots of information about World Book Day and ways to get involved at their website here!
When I saw that one of the World Book Day 2020 books was an Alex Rider book, I obviously had to have it. I had a ten minute panic thinking I wouldn’t be able to get hold of it, before Waterstones saved the day. I ordered it for the absolute bargain of £1, and I definitely didn’t shriek like an idiot when it showed up. Onto the review!
The Man with the Wrong Shoes
Set just after Point Blanc (my review here) The Man with the Wrong Shoes is a short story about Alex causing chaos at Brooklands (what else is new) when he sees someone behaving suspiciously at the construction site that used to be the science block before Alex accidentally blew it up. With a government official and a shady individual on site, it must be time for Alex to cause trouble and nearly die!
This was a really lovely short adventure. A bit of excitement, a bit of danger and a few death-defying stunts wrapped up in a small package. I can’t believe Alex’s teachers ever believed for one second that he was ill with the way he behaves. He’s not even sorry! MI-6 don’t even put effort into covering things up! These teachers do not have enough suspicious paranoia, I swear.
Double Agent is a prequel, and reading it the same day I finished Snakehead is giving me chills, seeing John and Helen Rider, and Ash all in the same place? It’s too much. I never thought I’d actually see that fateful day with the plane ‘crash’ and I’m 110% sadder for it. It’s interesting to see John Rider in the ‘flesh’ though. I’ve not read Russian Roulette yet (I have literally been avoiding it since 2013, don’t @ me) and it’s weird to see him as a whole developed character but interesting. Maybe I’ll survive Russian Roulette after all.
Watch me get soft about Yassen Gregorovich, paid assassin and baby-El’s first weird crush. I’ve been avoiding Russian Roulette for seven years (as tragically mentioned above) because I knew Yassen’s background would wreck me. I was not expecting to find a short story about how Yassen became an assassin. I absolutely love this character, so this story was very welcome. It didn’t hurt that there’s a kill in this short story that is unbelievably cool, and only Yassen could ever have pulled that off.
The White Carnation
This short story side-swiped me, wow. This was beautiful and powerful. I was already on my ‘Yassen as an anti-hero’ high horse before. I’m not going to go into detail, because this short story was powerful because of its ending, but this story shows Yassen as a character more three-dimensional than the generic ‘assassin’ he could have been left to be. He has a genuine respect for life, and to him work really is just work. That was exceedingly clear in The White Carnation, and I can’t believe I’ve had this story in the back of my copy of Russian Roulette for years and I’ve never bloody read it.
This was a brilliant collection, and I’m so excited about having found it. Make sure to check out what your local bookstore is doing for World Book Day and get involved in the fun!