I can see why this series is so popular. It fulfills a fantasy of many young people and grown ups to be an international spy with all the pecks (cool gadgets in Alex Rider's case a very useful DS Nintendo), the danger and the intrigue that comes along with it. This first book in the series introduces the main characters and the important secondary ones. Alex in forced into this life of high intrigue and danger by a morally ambigious MI-6 director. We are introduced briefly to MI-6 Chief of Special Operations, Mrs Jones and the gadget guy who are as gray as their boss. The one character that comes out in the end supporting Alex is being set up to be his arch enemy : Yassen. The action is constant, the plot is straight forward and does the job in putting the players on the board. The main villains in this tale, the billionaire Sayle and his henchman and henchwoman are paper thin and are more like caricatures of evil mastermind. Blunt, the MI-6 director and his henchwoman and henchmen are more sinister and scary in my book.