Boy Nobody is the story of a teenaged assassin. Yeah, you read right. Think Jason Bourne, but the early, early years. Like Bourne, Boy Nobody is trained to kill high-profile targets in such a manner that no one suspects that they didn’t die of natural causes. His typical modus operandi is to start at a new school, befriend the teenaged son or daughter of the target and spend a few months becoming part of their life in order to gain access to the intended target. By the time they die what appears to be a completely suspicion-free death, he just seems like a friend who happened to be visiting their kid at the time. And then he’s gone.
He’s good at his job. He’s never had trouble completing an assignment on time and without a hitch. Until he meets Sam. Sam is the daughter of his newest target, the mayor of New York. But what makes this assignment different is the time-frame – he has only 5 days to accomplish what he normally does in a few months. And there are other complications – someone (who he thinks of simply as “the Presence”) is following him for reasons he doesn’t know. Possibly to kill him.
As the job progresses Boy Nobody discovers that the timeline and unknown shadow aren’t the only complications – his own emotions are getting in the way. Something that has never happened to him before.
Will he complete the mission in time? Will he complete it at all? And what will happen to him if he doesn’t?
I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to. I generally find that though I enjoy reading spy and assassin books, I have a harder time connecting to the assassin persona because of the moral quandry it evokes. Normally I find that I don’t get as connected to the character, because I’m constantly reminded of their willingness to take a life.
Boy Nobody, however, allowed me to feel more sympathy than I usually do. Because of his youth and inexperience in much of the more “normal” aspects of growing up, he is less responsible for his actions than an adult in his profession. There is an undercurrent of “them or me” to his situation that leaves you feeling almost sorry for him that he can’t have a normal teenager’s life.
The plot was evenly developed for most of the book, and I rarely found myself skimming to get to the next big climax. There were a few stylistic issues that annoyed me a bit as I was reading, however. One being that the title of each chapter is also the first line of the chapter. I’ve spent so many years reading books where chapters are just numbered that my brain automatically ignores chapter headings and starts reading. While it looked really cool, I found myself constantly having to go back and start again because I’d skipped that crucial first line. Which wouldn’t have been such a big deal, except that the chapters were so darn short! To give you an idea, in a 352 page book, there were over 70 chapters. Some are only a couple of pages long. So this did start to irritate me.
The other thing that caused a bit of eye-rolling was the constant reference to some sort of unseen energy field that BN uses as a kind of sixth sense. He’s constantly “extending his energy outward”(to loosely paraphrase) to figure out where someone is in relation to him, apparently something he was trained to do. But it never really explains what this means. Is it supposed to be simply a focus on detail? Listening with a trained ear to sounds that don’t belong? Or is it supposed to mean that he’s able to actually sense living bodies nearby? Either way, I would have preferred something a little less esoteric – particularly given how often this particular skill is referenced and used to get him out of a tight spot.
These are my only complaints, however, and they’re pretty minor ones. I’m frustrated that the next book isn’t out yet (indeed, there’s no news I can find on title or release date) because I really want to know what happens next!
Book Title: Boy Nobody
Author: Allen Zadoff
Published by: Orchard Books
Released: May 23, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Date Read: July 12-15, 2013
Rating: 6.5/10 //<![CDATA[ var sc_project=10144299; var sc_invisible=1; var sc_security="82f610c9"; var scJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://secure." : "http://www."); document.write("”); //]]>