A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stormbreaker is the first of the 11-volume Alex Rider Adventures series that was adapted for a 2006 movie and a 2020 TV series set to debut November 13 on Amazon Prime. It's the story of an ordinary 14-year-old British boy enlisted to work as a spy for M16. It has all of the violence, though none of the sex, of a James Bond movie, with loads of action, intrigue, gadgets, and nail-biting suspense. There are explosions, murders, and shootings. Alex is chased, shot at, punched, drugged, and left to drown or be killed by a giant jellyfish, which then gruesomely kills a woman.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Alex Rider has lived with his uncle Ian since his parents were killed in an accident when he was an infant. Now Ian has died in an accident as well, but as Alex looks deeper, he finds that everything he knew about his uncle was a lie. He wasn't a banker, he was a spy for Britain's MI6, and his death was no accident. Now MI6 wants Alex to spy for them as well, and they won't take no for an answer. Though he is only 14, he discovers that his uncle was training him for spying his whole life. Billionaire Herod Sayle is donating his state-of-the-art computers to every school in England. But MI6 is suspicious of his motives, and Ian was killed while investigating him. Now they want to send Alex in to find out what's going on behind the guarded fences of Sayle Enterprises.
Is it any good?
This thriller is like a Bond movie for kids -- full of action, suspense, thrill-a-minute adventure, gadgets, and a super-competent kid who saves the world through brains, guts, and martial arts. It's very well done and especially good for reluctant readers. It will keep kids enthralled. Don't bother with suspending disbelief: You'll have to stick it in a bag filled with concrete and sink it in the nearest river (or perhaps put it in a tank with a giant poisonous jellyfish, as is done to Alex at one point). But young readers will eat up every second and beg for more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Alex is used and mistreated by the supposed good guys in Stormbreaker. Why are spies often at odds with their superiors? How does that add to the appeal of the story?
Which parts of the story are more or less realistic? Which parts are the coolest?
What were the reasons for the villain's madness? What makes a good villian in a thriller?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love mystery and adventure
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.