Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff

They needed the perfect assassin.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die-of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when he's assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter is unlike anyone he has encountered before; the mayor reminds him of his father. And when memories and questions surface, his handlers at The Program are watching. Because somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and parents; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's mission.
In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero. 

Boy Nobody is my third Allen Zadoff book. The first two I read were both humorous, light contemporaries. So when I started it, I was kind of sold on the author, not really needing to know what the book was actually about. (Okay, I had a faint clue - covers convey some things after all) But I was surprised to find it rather different. Not bad, just a lot more serious and darker. And maybe there was a joke or two tucked away in there.

I read Mind Games by Kiersten White not long ago and strangely enough, it reminded me of that, but for boys. Both had very distant, trained assassin characters and the distinct stream-of-consciousness kind of writing making both of them very quick reads. However Boy Nobody stuck with one character and as far infiltration and other spy-like stuff was certainly more in depth. Definitely had more of a gritty and hard feel about it. And of course, there’s Samara, who is an awesomely kick ass female character.

Now, when I said hard and gritty, I have to also mention the rather ‘grown up’ feel to it. While I’ve never seen a Bourne Identity film (yeah, throw the rocks), reading Boy Nobody is what I imagined it would be like. Spy-y, action-y, some violence and then mixed with just an essence of real world politics to give an even more real edge. If I was asked to name a young adult book that actually used terrorists as a plot point, I’m not sure I could actually name one. Well, except for Boy Nobody, that is.

While I won’t give anything away, I have to talk about the ending in super vague terms because it’s kind of freaking epic. By the end, the situation is something I’ve seen plenty of times, but what actually happens was so unusual that I actually emailed Mr. Zadoff and asked him if it *really* happened and wasn’t some kind of tricky dream sequence or fantasy that we learn of in the next book (like you’ve never read a book with some tricksy author trying to be infuriating like that). He responded, assuring me, that that was really the ending. After that, I just kinda sat in floored awe and didn’t really know what to do with myself. All that being said, I CANNOT WAIT for the next book.

-Reviewed by Jennifer

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