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WARP Book 1 The Reluctant Assassin Hardcover – May 7, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Seventeen-year-old FBI agent Chevron Savano thought her time in London would be an exercise in boredom, but between dead scientists, scrappy would-be assassins, and a malevolent Victorian illusionist, boredom may be the least of her worries. The FBI's Witness Anonymous Relocation Program (W.A.R.P.)-where time travel is used to hide witnesses in other times-has gone horribly wrong. Fourteen-year-old Riley must kill or be killed by his assassin master, but the teen is spared when his target turns out to be from the future and he's inadvertently transported from Victorian times to present-day England. Unfortunately, the orphan's murderous master, Albert Garrick, follows the boy, and his trip through the portal gives him knowledge and abilities that only make him more dangerous than ever. Garrick will do everything in his power to reclaim his apprentice and the Timekey that Chevie possesses. This science-fiction thriller provides readers with a breathless ride through modern and Victorian Londons as these two resourceful teens struggle to stay alive and one step ahead their pursuer. This offering is darker, bloodier, and much more serious in tone than the author's popular "Artemis Fowl" series (Hyperion). It may not be for the faint of heart, but the intricate plot, strong writing, and intrepid characters who must survive by their wits will make it hard to put down. Readers who enjoy Anthony Horowitz's "Alex Rider" series (Philomel) and Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan (S & S, 2009) are sure to enjoy this nonstop adventure.-Stephanie Whelan, New York Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Magic and murder kick off this new series about former illusionist Albert Garrick and Riley, his 14-year-old apprentice. Add in Chevie Savano, a 17-year-old FBI agent with a chip on her shoulder and a fierce determination to prove herself, and the stage is set for a fast-paced thrill ride. Garrick makes use of magician’s secrets to carry out his nefarious tasks, and the FBI employs WARP technology to conceal people in a truly secure witness protection program—the past. Unfortunately, not all of those who are hidden have learned their lesson, and the stakes are amped even higher when Garrick manages to transport himself into the future. By setting the story in both present day and 1898 London, award-winning author Colfer is able to explore the intersection of magic and technology in a clever, double-pronged way. Fairly gruesome murders and mutations, as well as alternating time periods and points of view, keep the action moving. Everything is tied up sufficiently at the end, but Colfer leaves a few threads that can be pulled to further the universe of this fascinating high-octane thriller. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A new series by the author of the internationally best-selling Artemis Fowl books? Yes, please. Grades 7-12. --Charli Osborne
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W.A.R.P., however, disappointed me a bit. Colfer is still great at creating attractive gadgets without having to explain the science accurately because his protagonists are young adults who are using the items without having to create them. He is also good at creating characters who do the impossible but are still believable in their dialogue and emotions. What really bothered me about this book, and will cause me to skip the rest of the series, are the recurring themes (quest for family, for belonging, for recognition, and the search for true magic) and adherence to a standard Hollywood formula. In the Artemis Fowl series, we meet Artemis as he is searching for the real magic of the fairy folk in Ireland. W.A.R.P. opens with the same search, although much more violently. Without giving spoilers, the antagonist is driven by the need to steal magic and will commit any crime or murder to do so. The female protagonist and story line B character are both orphaned and in search for a family. Okay, it's a young adult novel and apparently the best way to get the adults out the way is to kill them off, leaving the teenagers to solve the problems on their own. But, it seemed really heavy-handed in this novel, and that leads me to my chief complaint about the book.
If you are familiar with the "Save the Cat" book which lays out an analysis of successful screenplays, then you already know the plot of W.A.R.P.-- [SPOILER] A protagonist at odds with authorities is dressed down and stripped of responsibility, shuttled off to some insignificant side job which turns out to have greater impact that anyone can imagine. Along the way a side plot (and character) is introduced that runs parallel to the main protagonist's journey but has its own conflict and resolution as well. The protagonist will seem to beat the odds and solve the problems but then, things turn around and become even worse than imagined. At that moment, when all seems lost, the protagonist contemplates what is really important, what she values more than anything else. That provides motivation and a turning point for the protagonist to beat death (either real or emotional) and become the hero while gaining a buddy/family in the process. The formulaic nature of W.A.R.P. bothers me way more than the violence and insistence on magic.
The main problem with WARP is the same problem the last two books in the AF series had: Trying to hit the ground running in terms of plot without taking enough time to develop the characters and the world. The two lead characters, Chevron and Riley, just needed more time to make me care for them/understand them than the book allowed. Trying to fill in backstory later in the book just felt clunky. The story also lacks the good humor that Colfer is known for, though that does pick up in the book's third act.
On the good side, the villain of the story, Albert Garrick, was great. Colfer really let's you get inside his head, and his skills as a magician/assassin lead to some amazing action.
With some more time, I could see this developing into a good series, but I don't think I'll be following it until I here some good word-of-mouth.
As this is the first book in a trilogy, some of the characters weren't as developed as I'd imagined until the end of the book. The bad guys were far from under-developed, however. The action is full, the characters are witty, and writing is easy to read. There are some parts where the description is lacking, but I was reading this book very quickly and might have missed some things. The book ends in such a cliffhanger that if Eoin doesn't seem intent on writing the sequel in several months, I have it in mind to pay him a visit and make him write the sequel.
A word of warning: This book is not for younger readers. There are some very intense moments and some nasty torture scenes that are not appropriate for children. I would say the recommended age is 14+; however, I leave it to the readers' discretion whether they want to read this or not. If you are 14 or older, then I definitely recommend this book to you.
I was slightly disappointed for the first few chapters. It took a little while for me to warm up to Chevron. I liked Riley from the start, though, which helped.
Soon after that, I hit a point where I did not want to put the book down until I found out what happened next. That feeling lasted until I finished the book.
The main villain is a killer who thinks Jack the Ripper is a gaudy amateur. The variety of characters that abound in Victorian London gave depth, humor, and interest to the story.
So although I may wish it had a less rocky start, the journey itself was certainly worthwhile. W.A.R.P. is another very enjoyable book from Mr. Colfer.
I look forward to the sequel.
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Riley is a teen orphan living in Victorian London. He is an apprentice for an illusionist who has fallen on hard times and now uses his powers for evil and can be...Read more