|First published||April 1, 2006|
|Setting||London, New York City, space|
|Series||Alex Rider series|
|Genre||adventure, spy, thriller|
|Awards||see Awards section|
Alex Rider finds himself in the hospital, having narrowly survived the assassination attempt against him at the end of Scorpia. He meets a boy named Paul Drevin the son of Russian billionaire Nikolei Dreven, who is building a revolutionary hotel in space. Alex and Paul exchange conversation. That night, four armed men enter the hospital in an attempt to kidnap Paul, but Alex switches the room numbers above his room and Paul's room, resulting in the men kidnapping him instead. He manages to fight off four of them, but passes out easily due to his weakened state when attempting to fight a fifth man who arrives at the hospital as backup.
Alex is taken to a flat in a construction site where he learns the men belong to an eco-terrorist group known as Force Three, lead by a mysterious man named Kaspar. When Alex proves that he is not Paul Drevin, the men lock him in the building and set it on fire. However, Alex manages to escape by tightroping across a clothsline to an adjacent building.
Nikolei Dreven, as a gesture of thanks for saving his son, invites Alex to join him at his home for a few weeks and attend the subsequent launching of the Ark Angel hotel. Alex stays with Paul and his father, but is disconcerted by Nikolei nearly killing him in a go-kart race due to his desire to win at all costs. Alex plans to leave when the three of them arrive in New York City.
When they arrive in New York, Alex is held up at customs and taken to the CIA. They inform Alex that Nikolei Dreven is possibly the one of the biggest criminals in the world, and they ask Alex to watch him and see what information he can find. Alex agrees, and meets up with the Drevins. However, Nikolei learns of Alex's CIA involvement, and tries to have him killed while scuba diving by leaving him trapped in a sunken WW2-era naval ship named the Mary Belle. Alex is able to escape with the assistance of Tamara Knight, Dreven's secretary, who reveals herself to be undercover CIA. They make their way to a nearby island, but are captured.
Dreven reveals that the rocket intended to bring the final supplies to the Ark Angel actually contains a bomb which is meant to knock the space hotel out of orbit. The wreckage will then land on the Pentagon, destroying all the evidence the CIA has against him, as well as allowing him to collect on the insurance he had on the hotel, which has proven to be more expensive than it is worth. He reveals that he is also behind the attack on his son in the hospital, employing Kaspar and his team in an effort to toughen up his son.
Alex manages to escape, and Dreven attempts to flee the island using his seaplane. However, Alex is able to tie two canoes to the plane before it takes off, causing it to crash and kill Dreven. However, the rocket launch is unable to be stopped, and the rocket blasts off towards the hotel. Alex meets up with MI6 and the CIA and is determined to be the only person small enough to fit inside the secondary rocket available, built to accomodate a monkey rather than a full grown person. Alex is launched into space in an attempt to stop the bomb.
When Alex reaches the hotel, he is met by Kaspar. The two fight in the zero-gravity atmosphere. Kaspar is blinded by the sun's light, and Alex is able to gain the upper hand. Kaspar dies when he falls on his own knife. Alex is able to move the bomb from it's location to the toilet of the hotel, which will change the falling pattern of the satellite as it falls from space, steering it safely away from the Pentagon. Alex then escapes via the escape pod, which lands in the sea off the coast of Australia. The bomb explodes harmlessly, and Alex is rescued at sea.
- Lancashire Children's Book of the Year
- Red House Children's Book Award
- Doncaster Children's Book of the Year Award