|First published||September 4, 2000|
|Series||Alex Rider series|
|Next book||Point Blanc|
|Genre||adventure, spy, thriller|
|Awards||see Awards section|
Alex Rider is a seemingly average fourteen year old boy who lives with his uncle in England. When he receives the news that his uncle has been killed in a car accident, he becomes suspicious after seeing his uncle's boss from the bank at the funeral wearing a concealed gun, and so he decides to investigate. After finding his uncle's car in the junkyard riddled with bullet holes, Alex breaks into his uncle's office to investigate further. While rummaging through his uncle's possessions, he is shot with a tranquilizer device by an unknown assailant.
Alex awakens in a strange building in a room with his uncle's boss. The man, named Alan Blunt, informs him that his suspicions were correct; his uncle was not a banker, as he had claimed, but actually a spy for the British intelligence organization MI6. Furthermore, his uncle had secretly bringing him up to work in the espionage field as well, from foreign language tutors to karate school from a young age, hoping that someday his nephew would be able to join him in his field. Alex is then briefed on his uncle's last mission; he was investigating a man named Herod Sayle, a billionaire computer inventor who invented a new revolutionary computer he calls Stormbreaker, and who is donating a suspicious amount of the computers to schools across England, to be simultaneously activated by the Prime Minister at a ceremony in the Science Museum in London. Under pressure from Blunt, who points out that Alex has broken several laws in breaking into the facility, Alex agrees to help MI6 complete the mission his uncle started.
Alex spends two weeks going through military training, during which time he is often bullied, especially by a recruit named Wolf. However, he completes his training and is given some high-tech gadgets by Smithers, one of the scientists working for MI6. He then travels to the house of Herod Sayle, posing as Felix Lester, a boy who won a chance to tour the Stormbreaker facility and be the first to try the new system. Alex meets Mr. Sayle and tours Sayle Enterprises. Alex also finds a note in his uncle's handwriting, but is unable to decipher any meaning from it.
Alex explores the grounds and notices a shipment of a mysterious item being unloaded under the direction of a hitman named Yassen Gregorovich. He is attacked by unknown assailants several times while exploring but manages to escape. While testing the new computer, Alex sneaks away and finds an underground facility where the computers are being loaded with a smallpox virus to be released from within every single computer on the day all the computers are activated across the nation. Alex is captured and brought before Sayle and his henchman, Mr. Grin, a man with a horribly disfigured face.
Nadia Vole, another one of Sayle's henchmen, momentarily tricks him into believing she too works for MI6 and is there to help him, but rather distracts him long enough to drop him into a large tank filled with jellyfish. Alex is able break the tank using one of the gadgets Smithers has given him, and is able to escape as Vole is killed by the jellyfish hitting her when the tank floods the room.
Alex is able to escape and outrun the guards long enough to board the last plane leaving, and holds the pilot, Mr. Grin, at gunpoint with a weapon taken from one of the guards and orders him to fly to London. When they reach London, Alex realizes he is almost out of time and leaps from the plane with a parachute when they fly over the Science Museum. Mr. Grin attempts to swing the plane around and hit Alex, but Alex has left a smoke bomb disguised as a gameboy cartridge from Smithers on the plane, which he activates, blinding the cockpit and forcing Mr. Grin to crash. Alex crashes through the roof of the Science Museum and, dangling from his parachute cord, begins firing wildly, hitting both the Prime Minister and Sayle, just before the Prime Minister was to click the button, releasing the smallpox across the nation. Blunt's assistant, Tulip Jones, orders security not to fire on Alex, saving his life.
After the panic that ensues MI6 is able to withdraw all the computers from the country. After being debriefed, Alex takes a taxi home, only to find that the driver is Herod Sayle, who has managed to escape and is furious about his thwarted plan. He leads Alex to the top of a building and plans to execute him, but is himself shot by Yassen Gregorovich, who lands in a helecopter and explains to Alex that Sayle had become an "embarrassment." Having learned that Gregorovich is the one who killed his uncle, Alex says that he will kill him someday. Gregorovich dismisses this threat and climbs into his helicopter, saluting Alex as he flies away.
- Wisconsin Golden Archer Award (2003)
- Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award (2004)
- Utah Beehive Award (2004)
- Iowa Teen Award (2005)
- California Young Reader Medal (2005)
- South Carolina Junior Book Award (2005)