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Never Say Die: Alex Rider    by Anthony Horowitz order for
Never Say Die
by Anthony Horowitz
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Anthony Horowitz's Never Say Die is his eleventh (following Scorpia Rising) Alex Rider action extravaganza. In the previous episode, he watched as his caregiver and close friend, Jack Starbright, was blown up by SCORPIA operatives. He's still grieving, while trying for a normal teen life in San Francisco, where journalist Edward Pleasure and his family have taken him in.

Then Alex receives an email that changes everything. Though it is brief and was cut short, Alex is convinced that it's from Jack and she's alive - the hunt is on. He returns to Cairo, to revisit the scene of his own torture and Jack's supposed death, and finds a clue there (once he's dealt with a gang of thugs seeking revenge). Helped by Egyptian spymaster Manzour and his tech genius daughter Shadia, Alex moves on to Saint-Tropez in southern France.

He boards, and seriously damages a luxury boat; survives a poison dart, and cement shoes; and reunites with an old friend, Ben from English Special Ops. Together, they uncover a dramatic kidnapping plot that began with grand theft helo (a massive helicopter capable of carrying an enormous load). The operation unfolds but Alex stows away and helps foil the twin villains' plans in an exciting crescendo of an ending, in which he's also reunited with Jack again.

Like the previous episodes it's all very implausible, as this teen Bond survives catastrophe again and again (he definitely has more than nine lives!) But it's also tons of fun to read.

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