Meet Alex Rider, an average British teenager whose life is about to seriously change.
Everything starts when Alex's uncle and caretaker, Ian Rider, is killed in a car accident. Alex is devastated by the news and worried about his future, but he has questions about the official story—nothing seems to add up. Alex only gets more suspicious after he meets his uncle's bank coworkers, who all seem like they have something to hide.
Alex's suspicions lead him to a creepy junkyard, where he finds his uncle's car, and it doesn't look like it's been in an accident—it looks like it was shot up with bullets. He visits the bank the next day and tries to sneak into Ian's office, but he's caught by Mr. Blunt, the head of the bank. Finally, Mr. Blunt reveals the truth to Alex: Ian (and everyone at the "bank," for that matter) works for the British spy agency, MI6. Whoa, right? But what's even more bananas is that they need Alex's help.
At the time of his death, Ian was trailing Herod Sayle, a tech mogul set to release a revolutionary new computer called the Stormbreaker. Sayle has promised to donate one Stormbreaker to every school in England, but MI6 has been suspicious about Sayle for some time. Ian's death (at the hands of Yassen Gregorovich, famed assassin) only confirms their fears.
So here's the plan: Alex will impersonate a contest winner who's won a trip to Sayle Enterprises in order to get to the bottom of things. There's not much time before Stormbreaker is released, so Alex is hurried through a two-week boot camp, given some handy spy gadgets, and shipped off to Sayle Enterprises.
Things are shady from the get-go. Herod Sayle acts like he just read Super Villainy for Dummies, his butler Mr. Grin is a maniac, and Dr. Nadia Vole is an icy German mistress. During his stay, Alex follows clues left by his uncle and learns the truth: Sayle is loading the computers with a deadly biological virus. Unfortunately, Alex is caught before he can notify MI6, giving him only two hours to stop Sayle from activating the virus at the London Science Museum.
To make a long story short (it's kind of the point of this section of the learning guide, after all), Alex hijacks a plane, kicks some butt, and manages to stop Sayle from activating his biological bomb. Sayle is able to escape, but he reemerges the next day to kidnap Alex. As he is about to shoot Alex, Sayle collapses—he's been shot by Yassen Gregorovich. The two young men stare each other down before Yassen hops back into his helicopter and flies away.