BOOK REVIEWS

Russian Roulette: The Story of an Assassin (Alex Rider) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-06-23 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:0399254412
LANGUAGE: English

"First of all, let me say that I am a huge fan of Horowitz, and I love the Alex Rider series. However, I didn't really like this story, which is about the assassin from the series.

It was interesting seeing Yassen's life and how things were for him as he grew up, but honestly, I didn't see a real reason for him to turn into an assassin. I know the reason is supposed to be that he's lied to by the one person left in his life that he thought he could trust (Alex's dad), but in my opinion, this was not enough to turn a normal, innocent kid into a serial killer, especially since he had not been able to kill anyone before.

I don't think this prequel is necessary at all for fans of the Alex Rider series. It's interesting, but not very believable. It was also very slow. It's all basically a retelling of his past through his journal entries, so there's not much plot--it's really just about what Yassen will think of next in order to survive.

Also, if I remember right, things in this story didn't really match up right with things that Yassen told Alex right before he died in Eagle Strike. In Eagle Strike, Yassen seemed to have great respect for Alex's dad and he looked up to him, but in the end of Russian Roulette, he despised him and felt betrayed and lied to. Maybe Horowitz did this to make it more interesting, but I wish it had made more sense with what happened in Eagle Strike.
" said.

"It is great to see an author add to a successful series because he has another story to tell and not just to make some extra cash. Russian Roulette is a prequel of sorts to the Alex Rider series and tells the story of Yassen Gregorovich, explaining how he became the deadly assassin readers know him as.

What is perhaps most fascinating about this book is how Horowitz manages to write a book where you feel empathy for a contract killer. It seems impossible yet it happens nonetheless. We learn how Yassen's, born Yasha, childhood was ripped apart and see how he is forced from one difficult situation to another. One paragraph considers how Yassen is almost a mirror-image to Alex Rider. As boys the characters are near identical but circumstances drive them in the complete opposite directions. It is perhaps this fact that gives the unexpected empathy for a contract killer.

Another bonus of this book is that is also expands on the relationship between Yassen Gregorovich and John Rider, Alex Rider's father. John is the person that trained Yassen to become a killer but his reasons for doing so are not as obvious as they appear.

The book leads us straight into the finale of Stormbreaker and we finally learn why Yassen Gregorovich did what he did there. All in all this is an essential read for fans of the Alex Rider series and essentially tells the story of what would have happened if Alex Rider went bad whilst expanding the background to the series.
" said.

"About 2010, there was a rumor that another Alex Rider book would come out, entitled Yassen, Teenage Assassin. I don't know why this took so long, but it was definitely worth the wait! If this review seems vague, it's because I don't want to spoil the clever details!

When Yasha Gregorovich is 14, his entire village is destroyed after an explosion at the chemical plant where his parents both worked. He manages to get away from the town and the soldiers with his best friend, but Yasha has to make his way to Moscow alone.There, street urchin Dimitri befriends him-- after stealing all of his money. Yasha embarks on a life of petty crime in order to have a place to stay with Dimitri's gang. When time are tight, the group turns to burglary, and Yasha is caught by Sharkovich, a ruthless criminal who basically enslaves him for four years, using him for petty chores as well as for tasting his food lest he be poisoned! A turn of events lands Yasha in Scorpia, and that organization does everything it can to turn him into a brutal assassin. The renamed Yassen doesn't take to this naturally, and the organization knows it. They also feel that Yassen is an asset and can be trained... and the person whom they choose to train him turns out to be his undoing years down the line.

Strengths: Oh, my goodness. SO well done. This was quite different from the other books in the series, and every chapter made me feel sorrier for Yassen. Horowitz does a great job at describing life in the former Soviet Union in the early 90s, and Yassen becomes such a sympathetic character that if I read the final showdown between him and Alex again, I might just root for Yassen! Given what occurred in his life, this book makes it seem like there really was no other option for Yassen. Just an amazing book. Horowitz's other writing endeavors for things like Foyle's War show up more clearly in this.

Weaknesses: I still don't understand John Rider and what he is really doing with Scorpia and MI6. Perhaps there is an entire book there???
" said.

"I read this mainly because one of my Teen Boys'Book Groups wanted to read it, so I wasn't particularly expecting it to appeal to me that much (I'm more of goth romance kind of girl, if I'm honest). But it was a very readable story and, being a prequal to Stormbreaker, you didn't need to have any previous series knowledge to appreciate it.

To sum it up, without the use of any spoilers, it's the story of how a young teenage Russian boy is forced into a position where he has to train as an international assassin. But it's a book that keeps you guessing right to the end about whether it's possible to change somebody's inherent moral compass just by putting them on a career path which seems impossible for them to escape from.

Yassen Gregorovich never imagined for one moment that his quiet and boring childhood in a rural Russian village could ever lead to international espionage and cold-blooded killing. To a great extent he doesn't choose this path, but as the story evolves he starts to try and make some decisions for himself and about his own destiny and whether fate has determined it or whether he has some free-will. The answer to that is surprising and provides one of the final twists in the story.

Horowitz is, of course, a massively popular author in the public library (I checked today and all of his books were out again - I made a note to buy some more copies!) I think this has a lot to do with his accessible writing style. He doesn't go for unusual words or unnecessary descriptions. His style is very straightforward, so the success of his stories really just depends on the strength of his plots and characters. Personally, I would have liked a sub-plot or some more emotional intensity, but then I'm not a teenage boy. For me the only thing that my book group might struggle with is the slight lack of page-turning suspense. It's an interesting read, well-told, but not as completely gripping as it might need to be for it's intended audience, perhaps.
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You see that little box that say 'comment' just below here. Just give me a clue as to why you're all suddenly rating this particular review. Do you all know each other or something? I'm just curious :)
" said.

"Before I started the series I knew that I wanted to read this book most and after finishing reading it I realised that I was right and I have to say that I enjoyed this one most. Not only did I enjoy it but I actually had tears in my eyes at one specific point...

This is the story of the Russian assassin in the Alex rider books. Yassen Gregorvich, whose name is actually Yasha (which as a Russian I can tell you that it's not actually a full name but only a nickname that comes from the name Yakov but anyways...).

The actual time line of the book is during Alex's first mission and so it takes place during their first meeting and the stormbraker events. Although most of the book is not during the "present" but rather Yassen thinking about his life.

***** MILD SPOILERS *****

I just found it so much fun looking at Russian culture from the perspective of a foreigner. It was just so interesting to read about how he (the author) tries to explain our school marking system (which has nothing to do with stars...just saying) and the way the children dressed and how the villages looked... And I think that the reason that I really liked this book was mostly because I could relate to the situations and picture the environments since they were something I knew (at least a little bit since most of it was quite old...)

Which is why this book is probably not going to be enjoyed by a lot of foreigners, because honestly looking back at it right now I don't think I would have understood most of what was going on without my knowledge of Russian culture... Also pronunciation would have been kinda hard...

***** SERIOUS SPOILERS *****

So that moment that I actually cried in was when he returned to that house in the silver forest and had that chat with Sharkovsky... I just couldn't not shed a couple silent tears when he said "I am what you made me". I mean first of all that's just an emotional line but like mostly I think that it got to me because it's kinda a reference to the mortal instruments... Is that a spoiler? Lol .. I'm spoiling a book in the review of a different book. But basically that line is connected to a very emotional part in the life of a different character and like that tied the two together for me and then I was even sadder and I just ... I had to like wait a second before I could keep reading...

All in all I very much enjoyed this book, it was awesome and sad (I believe the word is melancholy) because while I really wanted to know more about his life, I knew it wasn't going to have a happy ending... So Ye I feel like I could rant about this guy forever so I'm gonna end it here... End of rant.
" said.

"
Russian Roulette Alex Rider
By Anthony Horowitz
This book is a non-fiction book. The genre of this book it realistic fiction and action. I could see this book being real. The reason I chose to read this book is because it is the final book of the Alex rider series. Even though it is the last book it is more of a side story about one of the other characters life.
This book is about a young boy names Yasha or Yassen. He lives in a small town called Estrov in Russia. There is a “pesticide” factory there and one day something goes wrong there. Then the Russian government doesn’t want the rest of the country to know that there is a mistake so they completely wipe out all of Estrov except Yassen escapes and it on the run.
This book made me feel really scared all the time because there were many close calls and also sad at times because things didn’t always go Yassen’s way. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action books. I would give this book a 8 out of 10.
" said.

" It was ok. It barely features Alex Rider. " said.

" I read the Alex Rider books when they were first released, but never finished the series. Reading this has made me want to return to them! Well written and full of action, you really end up feeling for Gregoravich and understand how he ended up as Alex Rider's enemy. A must read for fans of the series! " said.

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