|“|| Never Give In.
Never Give Up.
Never Say Die.Alex Rider is back.
—Never Say Die's tagline
Never Say Die is the 11th book in the Alex Rider series by British author Anthony Horowitz. The book was an unexpected release, as Horowitz stated that Russian Roulette was going to be the final Alex Rider book.
When talking about the new book Anthony Horowitz said:
'For the first time in over three years, and contrary to my expectations, I found myself revisiting my character, Alex Rider. And I realized how much I had missed him.'
'The ideas came thick and fast. In fact, the new book has more action sequences – and more spectacular action – than anything I’ve written so far. I have loved writing it and I am certain it will appeal not just for new readers but to young people in their teens and twenties who grew up with Alex.’
The world's greatest teen spy is back in action in a thrilling new mission: destroy once and for all the terrorist organization SCORPIA. Americans may have purchased more than 6 million copies of Alex's adventures, but now, more than ever, we all need his heroics.
Following the events of Scorpia Rising, Alex relocates to San Francisco as he slowly recovers from the tragic death of his best friend and caregiver, Jack Starbright, at the hands of terrorists working for SCORPIA. With Jack gone, Alex feels lost and alone, but then, out of the blue, he receives a cryptic email—just three words long, but enough to make Alex believe that Jack may be alive. Armed with this shred of hope, Alex boards a flight bound for Egypt and embarks on a dubious quest to track Jack down. Yet SCORPIA knows Alex's weakness. And the question of whether Jack is alive soon takes a backseat to a chilling new terrorist plot—one that will determine the lives of many. From Egypt to France to Wales, from luxury yachts to abandoned coal mines, Alex traverses a minefield of dangers and cryptic clues as he fights to discover the truth.
A Serbian mercenary pilot, (Named Dragana Novak,) infiltrates an air show in Suffolk to steal a Super Stallion on loan from the United States Air Force. The helicopter is then hidden in the English countryside on a gimmicked landing pad that re-positions it vertically, allowing it to be concealed inside a dummy windmill. The theft and disappearance of the helicopter makes its way to Mrs. Tulip Jones, head of MI6 Special Operations, who launches a hunt for it in vain.
Alex Rider, living in San Francisco as the ward of Edward and Liz Pleasure, has been unable to fully acclimatize to life in America after the death of his guardian, Jack Starbright, in Cairo, experiencing PTSD-induced flashbacks and drifting away from his friend and former love interest Sabina Pleasure. One afternoon, while checking his email, Alex discovers a message that reads "ALEXX I'M AL - " and realizes that Jack might still be alive: the apparent misspelling of his name was a private joke between the two of them.
With the help of computer geek Johnny Feldman, Alex is able to retrace the message and sneaks away from the Pleasure family when they go on holiday. After beating up a pair of bullies who had picked on him and Feldman in the past, Alex gets a plane ticket to Cairo in order to retrace his steps from where he last saw Jack: at the now-ruined Scorpia fortress in Siwa. Discovering Jack's cell, Alex finds the name "Grimaldi" scraped into the wall, but is ambushed by a group of six bandits formerly in Scorpia's pay who want revenge on him: he fights them off and is unexpectedly rescued by Colonel Ali Manzour of the Egyptian Secret Service, who he had encountered previously.
Colonel Manzour, displeased by Alex's presence, is ready to repatriate him and dismissive of his evidence that Jack may be alive. Reviewing the footage of Jack's death with the colonel, Alex suddenly notices a discrepancy when a bird that was flying in the corner of the screen as Jack drove away vanishes too abruptly when the car exploded, revealing that the footage was faked: convinced, the colonel has his hacker daughter Shadia retrace the original message to Saint-Tropez, where he also reveals that two suspected Scorpia members, the ex-Mafiosi Grimaldi brothers, have supposedly been sighted. Alex decides to continue his search, and the colonel reluctantly exfiltrates him with an Alpha Jet.
Arriving in Saint-Tropez, Alex is confronted by Mrs. Jones, who reveals her reluctance to have ever used him in the first place and tries to send him back to San Francisco, fearing he might develop what she perceives as an addiction to danger: indignantly, Alex presses on, eventually discovering the Grimaldi brothers' private yacht where he believes Jack might have been hidden. Using a self-destruct added to his laptop by Shadia, Alex distracts the Grimaldi guards long enough to sneak aboard the yacht, but finds only a map of Oxford and the Serbian pilot, who attacks him in a rage: he escapes but is back to square one. Spotting the Grimaldi brothers in town, Alex tails them to their villa and observes them discussing an "Operation Steel Claw" with a man namedDerek Vosper, but he is captured and fitted with a pair of cement shoes and thrown off a cliff: as Alex starts to sink, he is rescued by Ben Daniels, his former squadmate, and taken back to MI6 to debrief, but only after he reclaims his home in Chelsea from the estate agent.
From Alex's information, Mrs. Jones believes that "Operation Steel Claw" involves the theft of an exhibit of Mesoamerican gold artifacts from the Ashmolean Museum where Vosper is a curator, and the stolen Super Stallion was meant to haul the loot away. Ben and Alex wait in an MI6 patrol car near the museum, until Alex suspects that Vosper's wife, Jane, is the real target - she is a coach driver for a school for the children of extremely wealthy families, and the Grimaldis' true plan was to abduct the children for ransom. Ben turns around to catch up with the school coach, but the stolen Super Stallion appears and snatches the coach off the road with a magnet, forcing Ben to eject Alex in pursuit as the coach is flown away: Alex manages to wedge himself under its chassis as the helicopter drops it onto a moving train, flies away and blows up over the ocean before radar can track it. The train with the captured coach drives off into a disused coal refinery plant hidden in Wales, and Alex emerges to discover himself in the Grimaldis' fortress. Sneaking around to check on the abducted children, Alex eventually runs into a nurse, who reveals herself to be Jack Starbright.
Jack and Alex share a tearful reunion as she fills him in on her disappearance: the Grimaldis had captured her during her escape in Cairo and kept her alive to act as a caretaker for the children that they planned to abduct. Realising the only way out is the way they came in, Alex and Jack plan a breakout: Jack secretly releases the children while Alex sets a trap for the Grimaldis and finds an escape route that will lead them back to the coach. However, as their escape is about to get underway, the alarm is raised and the Grimaldi guards attack, damaging the coach's fuel lines as Jack tries to drive it down the railway line. The coach manages to get a lead, but the Grimaldi brothers themselves give chase in a steam locomotive, and soon begin to close the gap between them and the coach: desperately, Alex fills a thermos flask with diesel fuel from the coach's leaking tank and hurls it down the locomotive's funnel, where it lodges in the boiler and blows up, destroying the locomotive and killing the Grimaldis and their henchmen.
Once Alex and Jack rescue the children, their parents offer a five million pound reward, which MI6 arrange to be paid to Jack as Alex cannot accept it due to his unofficial role in MI6, allowing her and Alex to return to their old lives. However, Mrs. Jones later pores over a file marked "Nightshade" concerning a missing child who eventually resurfaced as a teenage assassin, and wonders how, despite her promise to leave Alex alone, she is going to trick him into this new situation.
An excerpt from chapter 1 can be found at:
An excerpt from chapter 2 can be found at:
- The book is titled Steel Claw in Germany.
- It is one of two books where Alex does not find out the antagonist's plan directly, instead he overhears details about it. The first is Scorpia.
- (Chapter 13: Needle Point pg 208) WOLF claims his real name is Ben Daniels yet in Snakehead (Chapter 10: Wat Ho) FOX says his name is Ben Daniels.
- According to Wikipedia "In post-2010 editions of the novels, Wolf is retconned to be the same character as Ben Daniels, who in earlier editions is the identity of "Fox"."
- The locomotive used in the refinery plant is a British Railways Standard Class 5, known to enthusiasts as the 'Black Fives'. Its use in the factory is technically unrealistic, as the locomotive was designed for mainline duties instead of working in refineries.