I’ve not done much about books recently, and partly that’s down to the fact I’ve not had a lot of spare time to get through the huge pile of novels I want to read. Between (ab)using my cinema pass, studying and this collection of evil electrons called The Internet I’ve let my enjoyment of the written art slip slightly.
The last three books I’ve read have all been part of the same series – the Alex Rider novels by Anthony Horowitz. Yes, they’re “kids'” books but do note that the author has also worked on adult television screenplays and that there is a whole genre of books that didn’t exist when I was younger.
Way back then, shortly after the invention of the printing press, books went from “children’s” to “adult” with no real middle ground. Partly due to the maturity of the Harry Potter content, there is now an enormous collection of books filling that gap. With detailed plots, mature content, interweaving plot strands and characters you can really identify with these books are worth reading by anyone. Simply take a decent “adult” novel, strip out the sex and bad language and a lot of these books could be confused with something for a more mature audience.
The Alex Rider collection are consistently good quality. I’ve not read the Young James Bond novels, but I can’t see them being anywhere near as good as this series, simply as the protagonist doesn’t want to be a spy. The detailed background Horowitz has created means that the character develops as he learns a little more about his past as each book is released. And not all of it is good.
The research given to each title is superb, allowing Horowitz to throw facts at readers and educate them while entertaining at the same time. Everything from how to walk a tightrope to the effects of basic physics on maneuvering in zero gravity have come up in the (so far) seven books. I was surprised to see that Horowitz had met fellow author Stephen Leather (of whom I am also a huge fan) in Bangkok during his research for Snakehead. Leather writes what are, to all intents and purposes, adult Alex Rider books. These are the novels I would say kids would walk right into if they enjoy Alex’s stories.
The fact that I mentioned one of his books (The Long Shot) in a blog post several years ago and received a “thank you” email from him has no influence on how much I like his work. Honestly.
I just ordered another book, Gone by Michael Grant, after I saw it in the children’s section of Waterstones recently.
Don’t miss out on some great reading simply because it’s not in the grown-up’s section of the library or bookshop. See what the teenagers are reading these days and jump on their bandwagons.