Stormbreaker - Anthony Horowitz
You know how there are those books that you see everywhere, in every library, in every bookstore, and then one day you just break down and pick it up? This is one of those books.
And I should have just left it.

The first few pages were fine--I was all prepared to get sucked into this book . . . I mean, I'd seen it EVERYWHERE, after all. It had to be good, right? It happened with the Pendragon books, it'll happen here too, yeah?

And then everything after those pages was complete nonsense. I was immediately disenchanted. But before I go into large-scale issues, I'd like to mention that these are the paragraphs that immediately set me against this book:

"'We can't just send in another agent . . . He'll be expecting a replacement. Somehow we have to trick him."
"We have to send someone in who won't be noticed. Someone who can look around and report back without being seen. We were considering sending down a woman. She might be able to slip in as a cleaner or a kitchen helper.'"

. . . I kid you not, this is actually in the book. The whole novel had this sexist voice, and the worst of it is that this is set in the current time. Really! She can slip in as a cleaner or a kitchen helper.

Also, a thing of note: the only PoC in this book was the villain . . .

The whole book was empty. Empty motives propelling empty actions. I couldn't even tell you what Alex's character is like. He's just a cardboard vessel that the "plot" throws around. Not to mention that I was shaking my head at each new "twist" because they were all impossible and completely ridiculous. I can't even tell you how many times I've had to close the book for a moment to groan and try to surpress the urge to throw the thing at the wall (it might have been the fact that it's a library book that saved it).

Dialogue was sometimes laughable . . . and way out of character. Alex, a 14-year-old boy saying "Nor can I" (or something along those lines)? Really? Does that actually happen or . . . ?

Oh and I wouldn't want to leave out this lovely example expressed by the villain: "'You've done well, Alex. . . I congratulate you. And I feel you deserve a reward. So I'm going to tell you everything."

This is great literature right here.

It's like Horowitz is trying to reinforce the assumed notion: oh kids are only interested in violence and action and BOOMS! Everything else is dispensable.
Because at the end I think I counted at least 4-5 huge mushroom explosions. That were completely unnecessary. But OH GOD EXPLOSIONS, MAN.
He's trying to trick his readers into thinking something epic is happening when it's really something trivial.

I'd advise everyone against reading this book. It may keep young readers turning pages, but there's better literature out there that'll do the same without the cheap effects and gimmicks.