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I Am the Weapon (The Unknown Assassin Book 1) Kindle Edition
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This one did not end the way I thought it would. I love when that happens! As a series starter, there was a bit of world building, with rather a lot of “inner narration,” but I didn’t mind it. We still have questions at the end from the over arching plot, but the main one in this novel is wrapped up. Boy Nobody reminded me a lot of I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, the differences being no aliens, and the hunted being the hunter. But the similarities were numerous. There is a friendship with the awkward outcast, romance with the popular girl, grudgingly given respect from the jock, previous moves from place to place, no real parent to speak of and no real happy ending, either. Is Allen Zadoff, Pittacus Lore? Hmm, I’ll have to compare the next two books to see if my hypothesis holds. I am seriously intrigued.
I think, my boys will like this book. It’s not as long as some others, so maybe it won’t be s intimidating. The action moves fairly quickly even with all the thinking Boy does in his head figuring out the next step. I liked the defense tips, so we weren’t surprised when he did what he did. The ending may disappoint girls who read it, if they are looking for a book with more romance, but the boys may feel a bit justified.
Zadoff comes close with his Boy Nobody series, now called the Unknown Assassin series. This first book is a zinger loaded with surprising twists and turns that seem familiar, but instantly charge off in unexpected directions. I like the first-person narrative because I was instantly involved with the character. Zadoff doesn’t let up after an engaging opening: an assassination by our main character.
When I first encountered Boy Nobody in the opening pages going about his assignment, I didn’t care for him, but the jet-propelled pacing carried me further into the book before I knew it, and Zadoff quickly hooked me with the horns of Boy Nobody’s dilemma: carry out his assignment and killed the girl he’s falling for pretty hard, or go rogue and potentially end up getting killed for being weak.
The aspect of the book that aggravated me the most is that we don’t really get to know much about Boy Nobody. He’s a cipher. Although a few hints are revealed as we go along, I’m torn between being satisfied with that and hoping the series broadens the character’s past as it charges forward, or wanting to know about him. I’m hoping there are more reveals in the second book, which is already out now.
The romance triangle feels overdone, but Zadoff makes it fresh again with the way he handles his story. In fact, the whole novel smacks of a Mission: Impossible/Rogue Agent kind of thing, but this is the kind of story I’ll always be a sucker for.
The subject matter (assassination, murder, death, terrorism) is mature for young readers, but grade 6 and up can easily slip into this world for vicarious thrill and chills with nothing offensive on the pages. Think of this as a more grown-up Alex Rider with a lot more intensity.
Boy Nobody delivered and how! A compulsively readable YA thriller that reads like a runaway freight-train. Knocking you down with its intensity and emotionally jarring narrative. Featuring a teenage (late teens) soldier trained to be an assassin, the book runs straight as an arrow with a mission that goes a little awry and plugs the boy soldier’s world into chaos. And yes. It involves a girl.
Now if you get the impression from the above brief that this book is yet another YA – filled with angst-ridden teenagers with unbalanced hormones driving their decisions – then bam! Are you wrong, my friend. The boy nobody is a cold calculating machine – bred for violence and programmed by a mysterious institution called…well, The Program. And so we settle for a teenage viewpoint of things unraveling through the book. Without the excess baggage. And it makes for a very sharp entertaining read. It is violent yes and probably is walking the tight-rope when it comes to YA cordons for acceptable levels of violence but it is essential to the story and thus makes for a very satisfying believable read.
So having been “institutionalized” into the Program at a young impressionable age, our hero’s memories are a jumbled mass of black and white pictures flickering past. But with the current mission – to infiltrate into the inner circle of the New York Governor to assassinate him – by be-or-boy friending his daughter in the High School (For a teenage assassin, this seems to be the most effective modus-operandi – as is established pretty early in the book – friend the “contact” usually the son or daughter of the “target” at school – get a way into the house – kill – get out. Smooth as slick.) Situation gets a little tricky. With his past threatening to spill out and pose difficult questions for Ben (his alias for this mission) he falters. Complications arise in the form of shadowy pursuers who are hell bent on killing him before the mission and of course the girl. The footsie-game of romance between Ben and Samara, the highly independent, opinionated daughter of the governor and his high-school “contact” makes for excellent read. Hesitant, confused and lost. Ben’s emotional vulnerability as a teenager has been nicely sketched out and it is this tightrope – Ben juggling between his confused feelings and jumble of memories on one side and his rock-like loyalty for the Program that brought him up after his real father “ditched” him - a balancing act that is the winner for me. It makes for an emotionally jarring read, one that will definitely make inroads into your heart.
The action and suspense plays out craftily. Short punchy sentences – first person narrative that heightens the sense of tension to dizzying levels. Allen can wring out sentences that lay bare the truths of life beautifully – as seen through the eyes of a child soldier. The topic by itself makes for an interesting premise and no way would I have missed this book. With such a terrific hero and an intriguing plot, I am the Weapon– Book One of the Unknown Assassin series – is the perfect start.
Now am eager to pick up where the first book drops “Ben” off – searching for answers about the Program itself. Allen cleverly masks the intentions of the Program and thus builds out the larger story-arch that am assuming will play out across the rest of the books in the series. I am in this for ride. Four stars for an engrossing plot that balances explosive action and disturbing emotional turmoil.
Most recent customer reviews
This is one of the most exciting, involving books I have read in a long time.
A sixteen year old boy is a trained assassin.Read more
A great action teen novel lots of suspense and surprises throughout I'm going to go read the rest of the series now