Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
When Alex Rider is woken up in the middle of the night and told that his uncle, who is also his sole guardian, has been killed in a car crash, his life rearranges itself around him. Enter MI6, a supercomputer, a couple of cool gadgets and (of course) for good measure, more life-threatening situations than you can count with two hands.
In our post-Cherub moment, the teenage spy narrative seems almost canonical. But before Robert Muchamore there was Anthony Horowitz! I read Stormbreaker when I was twelve, and was completely enthralled by (and jealous of) Alex Rider’s adventures. What struck me on re-reading is how resonant it is still in 2020 – super computers? A potentially unstoppable virus? Sure, the gadgets are a little dated (I don’t really know what a Game Boy Colour is), but in Stormbreaker Horowitz showcases a prescience for our times nearly twenty years before the fact – this is what makes it a classic. And what about the huge vat of fatal jellyfish? That’s just quality storytelling. For ages 11+.