Archive for Chris Ryan

Somes thoughts on Agent 21

Posted in Action/adventure, Books with tags , on March 6, 2011 by Cara Marie

I’m kind of sorry Chris Ryan has decided to go the ‘secret government agency recruits children’ route for his latest series. I think his others had more to differentiate them from the rest of the kids’ action books. I also find it interesting how they’ve significantly reduced the size of his name for this series.

In the Cherub books, there are dozens of children being trained at once. In Agent 21, Zak goes through his training alone, and it is a harrowing experience. He gets tortured as part of his training. Which is less disturbing in the book than it is in retrospect. I am so glad there are no secret government agencies trying to recruit me.

If I’m going to make comparisons, Zak is a lot more likable than James in the Cherub books. Not as charming as Alex Rider, but also with less angst. (Speaking of which, the eighth Alex Rider book comes out the end of this month! Sorry, he will always be my favourite boy spy.) He has more in common with the heroes of Ryan’s other kids’ books, pragmatic and mature.

Zac is actually introduced as a relative of Ben Tracy from the Code Red series, and stays with Ellie’s family after he is orphaned. (So okay, there is some angst, but it is used to give the two distinct chunks of the book an overall arc, and also he is not a woobie the way Alex is. Also, damn, were Ellie’s parents ever such jerks to Ben?) It makes me sad that Ryan didn’t just give Ellie a spin-off series. Because I enjoyed this, but I’m sure giving the story to Ellie would have been even more awesome. Or just a change. Goddamn, Chris Ryan, you do actually write your female characters well, so give me what I want already!

Other than that … this is a pacy, well-plotted action story, with a genuinely exciting conclusion. I had to grip the book extra hard when I was finishing it.

Chris Ryan wrote a romance novel, your argument is invalid.

Posted in Books, Romance with tags on October 5, 2010 by Cara Marie

I have no patience for the argument that there aren’t enough books for boys out there. Because there are, and also because I don’t like the suggestion that boys won’t read ‘girly’ books. Because some will.

But I was reminded of those complaints when I found out that my favourite non-sf writer, Chris Ryan, ex-SAS manly-man extraordinaire, wrote a romance novel. Sadly it is out of print, but I am delighted just to know it exists.

Twister (Code Red #5) – Chris Ryan

Posted in Books with tags , , , , on February 18, 2009 by Cara Marie

It starts with a twister; a hurricane off the coast of North America. Ben Tracey, the hero of the Code Red series, catches a plane off the Cayman Islands. He’s been on holiday, but his friend Angelo, the son of a rich oil baron, has got him a seat on the next plane off. A rich and unethical oil baron* – someone wants their revenge on Angelo’s father’s company, and they’re starting by hijacking the plane.

Twister really is non-stop excitement. We don’t just have the hurricane and the hijacking; we have panthers and betrayal, unscrupulous mercenaries and driving a truck through the storm when you’ve got a broken arm. It’s gripping stuff.

Unusually for a Chris Ryan book, what you don’t have is any girls. The only named woman to speak is Ben’s Mum, in a scene told from his father’s perspective. The other girl with a name is dead. I note this is unusual because one of the things I’ve always liked about Chris Ryan’s books is the active female roles – two of the four** Code Red books I’ve read have awesome girl co-tags (the other one doesn’t have a co-tag, but does have some good female parts in it). The Alpha Force series follows a group of five teenagers, and Amber and Li are no less kickass than their male counterparts. This is not the norm in kid’s action books. So I was a bit disappointed that the cast of Twister was all-male.

This isn’t an uncommon disappointment in the world of children’s books.  We had a book sold in the other week, an escape thriller type story. I read the blurb then come to an ‘all-boys’ mention. “Oh,” I say sadly, “but it doesn’t have any girls in it.”

“Well, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Ruth says. Yeah, except you’d never find a book for girls that didn’t have boys in it. We only make up half the population, after all. I only give Chris Ryan a free pass on Twister because he’s generally so exceptional.

*I don’t know why they get called ‘barons’, but I thought I should point out that the ‘unethical’ doesn’t go without saying, as seen in Black Gold, where the CEO is environmentally conscious and it’s his underlings you have to watch out for.

**There are five, but obviously I can’t tell you whether or not the girl in Wildfire is awesome ’cause I haven’t read it.

the kids save the world again

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , on November 17, 2007 by Cara Marie

Friday was action book day. It started with the graphic novel adaption of Anthony Horowitz’s Point Blanc. I’m actually quite impressed with the adaptions – they’re well-paced, and not overly reliant on narration. Also it’s fun to see all Horowitz’s ugly characters, so lovingly described in so many of his books.

Also heard he’s expecting to write another three Alex Rider books (poor Alex!) and that there aren’t going to be any more movies :( I would have like Mr Horowitz to get ridiculously rich off movie adaptions. It would have been fitting.

Then I read the third Cherub book, Maximum Security, which I actually really enjoyed. They’re very engaging. The series is based around the idea that no-one expects the child to be a spy! and so logically the British government takes orphaned children and trains them up. In Maximum Security, James is infiltrated into a youth offenders prison – and then has to break out with one of the criminals! It is so exciting, you have no idea. I was reading it whilst folding brochures, so that my boss took pity on me and told me to take it home.

It actually gave me an idea for a character, so I had fun daydreaming last night.

Lastly I asked for my family’s opinion of which reader I should start, and the answer was Chris Ryan’s Outbreak – which is the lastest in his Code Red series, though works perfectly well as a standalone. Evil miners in the Congo unleash highly contagious disease but don’t care – they want their coltan! It’s up to Ben to get word out and save the day – and with his father sick and dying, his only allies are the shunned girl Halima and their guide in the region. They must survive overnight in the jungle! Cross crocodile-infested waters! Learn to drive and block the road so that a new lot of workers from the next village can’t be brought in!

The writing’s not the greatest, but the narrative is solid and the story has heart. Also I appreciated the female co-protagonist. Cherub too, though mostly told from a boy’s perspective, doesn’t let the female side down – James’s little sister features a lot – she’s undergoing the same training, after all, and we see her adventures too – and his girlfriend Kerry isn’t afraid to let him know when he’s being an ass.

In fact, Alex Rider, you are the one letting the team down. The movie adaption of Stormbreaker actually took a female character who doesn’t appear till later in the series, and gave her a part in the action of the story. But I forgive you, Mr Horowitz, because after all, you did drown a man in quarters.

In other news, me and petrology are like BFFs. It is good. Saskia made me a gold star. Then she made me wear it all day. But I am happy, because I like my rocks and I am glad they like me too.