“Gimme some space,” she said to Arun, who crept out of her way. He and Sam both watched as Donna straightened out one end of the paper clip, carefully put the long end into the hole punch, positioning it below one of the bladed cylinders, and squeezed the lever arm gently, shaving off an edge and flattening the tiny metal rod. She took it out and inspected it. She then snapped the metal clip off the pen cap. With the flat end of the clip pushed into the bottom half of the keyhole, she turned the cylinder clockwise as far as it would go.
Ordinary pre-teens Arun, Donna and Sam are thrust into the adventure of their lives when Arun’s dad is abducted. His ‘normal’ dad is anything but that – he’s been working on a top secret AI project and now some an arch-villain wants it for themselves. With the world’s deadliest weapon at stake, Arun and his friends are plunged into a world of espionage… but can they protect the world?
What an adrenaline-fuelled rollercoaster S.T.E.A.L.T.H: Access Denied will put you on: right from the opening page when Donna tries to get Arun to skip school and see why the police are at his house only to get an unexpected surprise upon leaving school, you will not be able to put this book down. It is a fast-paced, frenzied adventure through the streets of London (and later, the outskirts) and you won’t want to take your seatbelt off. Arun, Donna and Sam are an excellent trio, all bringing their own skills to the table, with interesting backstories explored too. The fact they are regular kids so can fly under the radar (perhaps quite literally!) makes this story more grounded. Their developing partnership makes me really excited for book 2 and how S.T.E.A.L.T.H will develop.
It’s been a while since Alex Rider entered the spy world and opened this genre up to children but S.T.E.A.L.T.H takes it a step further and is a really fresh, innovative new series to look out for. I particularly loved the clock starting each chapter: reminding me of my favourite tv show 24, it brings constraints on the characters’ movements and adds to the tension. It’s pulse-racing, especially a particular hostage hand-over at Victoria station which is nail-biting as a sniper lurks above (gave me flashbacks to The Bourne Ultimatum).
This has definitely become one of my favourite reads of 2022: a thrilling, sophisticated, spy adventure which will keep you on your toes. Who can be trusted?
Suggested reading age: 9+
S.T.E.A.L.T.H: Access Denied is written by Jason Rohan and will be published by Nosy Crow on 7th April 2022. Preorder your copy here now!