Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: Boy Nobody - Allen Zadoff

Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff
Series: Boy Nobody #1
Genre: YA, action
Published on June 11, 2013
Published by Little Brown
Pages: 337
Read From: 11.9.13 - 11.10.13

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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? With the scope zeroing in on a fleeing figure, this screams teen spy novel, and while I have yet to find a series as good as Alex Rider, I still enjoy teen spy novels. The cover of Boy Nobody is exciting and very indicative of the genre, so yes, I like it.

Characters: Boy Nobody - or Benjamin, as he's known for his current mission - is no Alex Rider, that's true enough. Alex Rider was a really nice and decent kid who wanted to do what was right, and was entirely forced into his circumstances. "Benjamin" isn't too different in the fact that he, too, was forced into his circumstances, and while he makes a living being an assassin, doing what's right is a continuous battle for him in this book. But I wouldn't exactly call him a decent young man. He sleeps with girls, even when it isn't part of his cover, and he bordered on being too flawed to be a good protagonist. That said, there was something about "Benjamin" that I did kind of like. He was so very matter-of-fact about his job as an assassin, he was good at what he did - very good, - and while his emotions start to get in the way of things in Boy Nobody, he generally isn't emotional. He also has a rather fun sense of humor and can hold his own in a fight; in fact, he literally kicks butt. So while not a favorite like Alex Rider, I didn't really dislike him, either, and I enjoyed his character growth. All of the characters, though, I really didn't care about at all. Sam was too much work emotionally, Erika was a slut, and Howard was actually too much of a nerd. He amused me at times and I intensely disliked the big jerks who beat him up, but I didn't really attach to Howard in general.

The Romance: While "Benjamin" begins to grow close to Sam in a way that could potentially hinder his assignment, I wouldn't say that the romance was especially annoying or even especially prominent. It's there and it does play a key role, but it never felt like it was in my face.

Plot: As far as society in concerned, "Benjamin" doesn't exist. He's a kid who can take on any role, any name, any occupation wherever and whenever he wants. The day his parents died and he came to work for the Program, he ceased to exist. And it's the perfect situation to get close to important people's kids, so he can eliminate them and never have the murder traced. That's Boy Nobody's job: integrate himself into a school, get close to his target's kid, eliminate his target (who are usually traitors to the US in some fashion), and leave. It's a lonely life, but Boy Nobody is used to it. Until he gets a new assignment. His target? New York City's mayor. He's to befriend the mayor outspoken daughter, who is also emotionally traumatized from her mother's death, and kill the mayor. The difference, though, between this assignment and others is he only has 5 days to complete it. Disguised as a rich kid named Benjamin, Boy Nobody doesn't expect it to be too hard of a job. But what he doesn't count on is the mayor's friendly manner and Sam's relateable loss to stir up memories and emotions that he had long since buried. Suddenly, this isn't just about eliminating a potential traitor to the United States; it's about ripping another hole in an already-damaged family. My biggest question throughout this entire book was: why, out of all the missions, is this the one that sets "Benjamin" off? He's been at this assassination job for two years. This can't be the first time he's met a nice father or a family that suffers from great loss. Why is it this mission that rattles him so thoroughly? Other than that, I found the plot to be enjoyable. Both character-driven and plot-driven, this is a very fast read and a surprisingly emotional one. While I didn't connect with any of the characters, and therefore didn't really care about anyone, there are still a lot of emotions running through it. But there also isn't a lack of action and suspense; hand-to-hand fights, chases, guns, and the like. All very exciting. But it also isn't the story's main focus. Here is a spy novel that takes the time to develop its characters (something that Alex Rider didn't always do).

Believability: Nothing of which to complain.

Writing Style: First person, present tense. I didn't particularly care for the style. There were a lot of really short and choppy sentences, which is very common in action novels.

Content: 8 s-words, 1 g--damn, 1 f-word.

Conclusion: The other thing that bothered me was how long it took "Benjamin" to solve who "the Presence" was. The Presence is what "Benjamin" called an unidentified person that shadowed him during the mission. "Benjamin" never got a clear look at him, but always knew when he was there. But as soon as the Author began to drop hints about who the Presence could be, I knew who it was. But it took "Benjamin" well over half of the book to figure it out. He's a good assassin, but not a very good detective, I guess. Boy Nobody was very interesting, with a somewhat unique concept. It was entertaining and quick. Definitely a great weekend read.

Recommended Audience: Guy-read (and girl-read, of course, for those girls who like spy novels), seventeen-and-up, great for fans of spy and action novels.

1 comment:

  1. I Am the Weapon was a suspenseful thriller with some real surprises! I can't wait to read the next book (which comes out in June). I highly recommend this one!
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