Friday, 27 September 2013

Alex Rider Prequel: Russian Roulette Review

Anthony Horowitz has been one of my favourite authors for the longest time. I've gone through my Riordan and, regretfully, my Stephanie Meyer phases, but I always come back to the author who had written Alex Rider.

I had high hope for this book when I ordered it (it’s released in America on 1 October), and I have to say, this book does not disappoint. I devoured the book in less than two days and just wow.

So what is Russian Roulette? This book is a prequel to the Alex Rider series, though I would recommend reading through the first five books before this one due to spoilers. It’s the life story of the contract killer Yasha (Yassen) Gregorovich from when he was fourteen to when he meets Alex at the end of Stormbreaker. It starts off in third person in the prologue before switching over to first person as Yassen begins to read his diary (which, before you ask, is not written in diary entries).

 This book honestly shocked me. I always knew that Yassen had a rough childhood – I mean, he’s an assassin and clearly not a newbie. But I never realised how bad it was. The book, despite how quickly it moves along, is very descriptive without being over the top. It pulls you into young Yasha’s life (Yasha is Yassen’s real name) and doesn't let you go until the end. The settings are described very well to the point where even if one had never been there, they can picture it almost perfectly in their mind.

The plot itself was brilliant. It’s not often that books make me cry, but this one managed it within the first 25 pages. It was the perfect backstory for Yasha/Yassen, describing the hardships and the pain that he went through to get where he was in Stormbreaker. It explains almost everything about him that one may have wanted to know. As I mentioned earlier, the plot does move along pretty quickly since it’s most of Yasha/Yassen’s life in 400+ pages, but it doesn't detract from any of the details.

The character of Yasha/Yassen was mentioned in the Alex Rider books, but no detail was really gone into it. This book is his spotlight. It explains so much about the character in the books and it has a very developed plot. As a bonus, you also get to meet John Rider, Alex Rider’s father, for the very first time.

Overall, I’d give Russian Roulette a rating 4.5 out of 5. This book easily made my top ten books, with its illustrative details and intricate plot. I would recommend this book to anyone ages 14 and up. Maybe older, depending on their maturity is. A quick warning is that there is a moderate use of drugs, violence, and mentions of torture in this book, so if that makes you uncomfortable or is a trigger for you, you might want to avoid this book. But besides that, I would highly recommend this book to any YA reader who has read the Alex Rider books up through the fifth one, Scorpia.

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