Scorpia Rising is the ninth and final spy-adventure novel in the Alex Rider series, written by Anthony Horowitz. It was published in 2011. The author stated while he was writing the novel that it would be the final book he would write in the series. Although Horowitz has finished writing the main series, he is currently writing Russian Roulette, a prequel centred around Yassen Gregorovich, an assassin who appeared in several of the earlier novels.
Alex Rider wants his life back. But when you're the world's most successful spy, there's only one way out. Alex's final mission will be the deadliest of all. This gripping final story brings together Alex Rider's old enemies to frame the teenage spy in an unstoppable plot of revenge, from which he can never return. Pursued from Europe to North Africa and Cairo's city of the dead—this is the twistiest and most deadly plot of any mission yet.
"Never judge a book by its cover," says the old proverb. And yet, in the case of Scorpia Rising, this is not really true.
Scorpia Rising is the ninth and final Alex Rider novel. This series has been going since 2000, and this is it. The end.
But back to the cover. First up, the scorpion, bright red and emblazoned across the whole thing. Alex Rider fans will instantly recognise it as the logo of the evil criminal organisation Scorpia - the same scorpion featured on the cover of Scorpia, the fifth book. The cover is black, and Scorpia Rising is somewhat darker than the other books. Significantly more deaths, and also, in places, very sad. Finally, the title and author are printed in such a way that you can only see them in certain lighting. You'll notice the Amazon image has no title at all! This tells you something of the success of these books; when a publisher is confident enough to leave off the title from the cover, they must feel that it will sell itself.
But what about the book? Well, Scorpia Rising starts off with, obviously, Scorpia, the very, very evil organisation that Horowitz invented. Alex has already defeated them twice of course (in Scorpia and Snakehead), but this time there is a difference. This time, Scorpia are coming for Alex.
In fact, Alex only appears on page 129. Those first 100 pages set the scene for what Scorpia intend to do, also introducing what is probably Horowitz's nastiest villain yet, a literally emotionless chap called Razim. The main difference between Scorpia Rising and the other eight books is this: Scorpia have set a trap to catch Alex. So all the time Alex is on his mission, the reader knows that it is all in vain. Scorpia are in complete control.
Of course, Scorpia Rising does contain many of the trademark Alex Rider features. Alex is always heroic and escapes various ridiculous situations. MI6 can't leave him alone, and Smithers pops up with his latest collection of gadgets. And while this novel contains somewhat less action than some of the others, what's there is cleverly written to keep the reader hopelessly hooked. And, of course, there are the traditional cultural references as well, with the BP oil spill, Facebook and iPhones all making an appearance.
But it's the last 100 pages that make Scorpia Rising not just a great novel, but a brilliant one. So many series end badly, either finishing up with some predictable ending that you could have thought of, or with some stupid ending that is out-of-character with the whole series. Or else the author resorts to killing the main character off, as the only way of making certain he cannot write another book. Horowtiz, thank goodness, does none of these things. Alex doesn't die, but neither is the ending all happily-ever-after. In fact, those last 100 pages or so are by far the saddest we've ever had in an Alex Rider novel, with some incredible emotion packed into those lines of words. Perhaps some of that feeling stems from the fact we know Alex so well, after 11 years. And perhaps some of the emotion is the thought that we won't see Alex again. But, when I reached the end, I felt very satisfied.
It is a shame that we won't see Alex again, but Horowitz made a very wise choice to end the series here. It just somehow feels right. We've travelled with Alex from a jaunty young 14-year-old, seeing spying as a great adventure, to here, where he has fully grown up, and now understands that life as a spy will never lead to happiness. And Horowitz's action-packed spy series will, no doubt, be read over and over again by each generation of teenage boys.
Thank you, Anthony Horowitz, for providing us with an fitting ending to a wonderful series.
And thank you, Alex Rider, for the pleasure and joy obtained from sharing your adventures.
Please add your review here.
- Reading Age: 14+
- Reading Aloud Age: 14+
This is, without doubt, the darkest and most mature of all the Alex Rider novels. Alex has been scarred by his experiences, and he is certainly a deeper character by this point. By comparison to the early novels, Scorpia Rising is much more violent and potentially disturbing. There are several very sinister characters, with one in particular who runs scientific 'pain experiments' on people, including Alex. In addition to all the usual violence, there are lots of deaths, with some description, and by the final chapter there is a substantial body count. The violence does not feel inappropriate, considering this is the final novel, but it is unsuitable for younger readers. There is also some mild swearing.
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- Now you've finished the Alex Rider series, try something more challenging, such as The Thirty-Nine Steps, an adult spy novel written by John Buchan.