is a young adult thriller novel by Anthony Horowitz. Published in 2005 by Puffin, and the sixth book in the Alex Rider
series, the book centers around a teenage boy saving the world from an eco-terrorist organization. It’s a very popular installment in the Alex Rider
series, and reviewers praise it for its pacing and action sequences. Horowitz is an award-winning, bestselling children’s writer. He’s the first writer to receive an official endorsement from Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate to write a Sherlock Holmes novel. Critics claim that Horowitz writes some of the best child-spy novels of recent decades.
The protagonist is a boy called Alex Rider. He works for the British intelligence service, MI6. He’s also worked for the CIA and the Austrian Secret Intelligence Service. He doesn’t want to work as a full-time spy forever, and he plans on quitting to become a professional football player. He got into spying thanks to his uncle, who works for MI6, who spotted his potential. He’s known as an extremely handsome teenage boy and he sometimes uses his looks to his advantage on missions.
When the novel opens, Alex is recovering in a hospital from a gunshot wound he sustained in the previous novel, Scorpia
. He’s on the same ward as a Russian billionaire’s son, Paul Drevin. Paul’s father, Nikolei, has many enemies, and Alex worries that Paul might be an easy target on the ward. He looks out for Paul as best he can while he’s recuperating.
Meanwhile, an SAS man, Maximilian Webber, gives a speech at a conference. He’s talking about a powerful and volatile terrorist organization known as Force Three. No one knows precisely how Force Three will strike next, but it’s only a matter of time before they harm civilians. After the speech, someone calls Maximilian and tells him that he’s holding an explosive device. Maximilian’s phone explodes and he dies instantly.
In the meantime, hired muscle break into the hospital and kidnap Paul. Alex saves Paul and chases off the kidnappers. Nikolei is so grateful to Alex that he invites him to stay with the Drevin family for a while. He’ll receive the best medical care and he can return home when he’s ready.
Alex doesn’t want to stay in the hospital any longer and he graciously accepts the invitation. When he’s with the Drevins, Alex learns that Force Three tried to kidnap Paul. Their motives are unclear, but it’s likely they will strike again. Alex wonders if he’s with the Drevins to babysit Paul, not recover from his illness.
Later, Alex overhears Nikolei talking about his latest project called Ark Angel. Ark Angel will be the world’s first ever space hotel, and the project promises to make Nikolei infamous. Alex suspects that Force Three wants to stop Nikolei building Ark Angel, and he decides to learn everything he can about the organization. He must return to MI6 for more information.
Nikolei, however, wants Alex to travel to New York City with his family. Alex knows he’s got no choice and he boards the plane, but he’s quickly apprehended as a flight risk and removed from the plane. Alex knows there’s nothing risky about him and he suspects that this is Force Three trying to harm the Drevins, but he’s wrong—it’s the CIA.
The CIA wish to speak with Alex because they know who he is, and who he works with. They need his help to prove that Nikolei’s making money illegally. There’s no way he can afford to launch Ark Angel on legal funds. Alex doesn’t know how he can help. He tells them about the problem with Force Three, and the CIA says that he should focus on Nikolei for now. Alex agrees so long as they promise to investigate Force Three.
Alex travels to Flamingo Island, where Nikolei and Paul await him. He doesn’t want to be friends with Paul, because he’s investigating Paul’s family, but he must act normal. Nikolei’s suspicious about Alex now, but he doesn’t say anything. He simply decides that he’ll hire hitmen to kill Alex before he causes any trouble. Men try to drown Alex in an ocean shipwreck, but he escapes and vows to bring Nikolei down.
Nikolei finds out that Alex survived the assassination attempt. He confronts Alex and tells him the truth about Ark Angel. He plans on blowing Ark Angel into pieces when it’s airborne, and the pieces will fall across the Pentagon. Alex can’t understand why he wants to destroy his own project, and Nikolei explains that he simply doesn’t have the money to make a success of it. He’d rather claim the insurance money and frighten the CIA into leaving him alone.
Alex asks Nikolei what he knows about Force Three. He suspects that Nikolei knows exactly what this organization is. Nikolei admits that he hired Force Three to help him blow up Ark Angel and damage the environment. He plans on murdering the Force Three recruits because he won’t need them much longer.
Before Nikolei can kill anyone, the CIA storm the island. Nikolei flees, leaving his son behind to pick up the pieces. Nikolei takes off on a private jet, but the plane crashes immediately. Alex leaves Paul behind and heads into space to deal with Ark Angel. He manually blows the hotel up and redirects the flotsam into space, where it disintegrates naturally. He returns to Earth, ready for his next mission.