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WARP Book 1 The Reluctant Assassin Hardcover – May 7, 2013
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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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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The "Witness Anonymous Relocation Program" (WARP-from the title) is where Chevie ends up after her high school undercover project goes awry. Riley is an orphan who mysteriously appears from a time pod, and the two quickly end up on the run through both present day and Riley's past London. There are mysteries of parentage, melded personalities and plenty of other adventures to keep middle-teen readers on the edge of their chairs. I will suggest this book to readers in grades 8 and up, due to violence. I find it interesting that Colfer has made Chevie and Riley's age difference (she is 17, he is 14) just enough to make any hint of romance rather awkward. This book appears to be the first in in a series.
Overall: 4 stars for action-packed bloody sci-fi/fantasy for 14-15 year olds.
About me: I'm a middle school-high school librarian
How I Got This Book: purchased for the library
Riley, a teenage orphan boy in London circa 1898, is apprenticed to Albert Garrick, assassin extraordinaire. When their latest victim disappears into an FBI-monitored wormhole, Riley finds himself along for a ride into the future. In present-day London, Riley knows his days are numbered until the assassin comes to the future looking for him.
First some good news - there's LOTS of time travel in The Reluctant Assassin. The characters zip back and forth between the present day and 1898 quite frequently. Hooray!
And for a book about an assassin, there's also an awful lot of violence as you would expect. So much gory throat-slitting and knife-sticking that I don't feel comfortable recommending this for children below the age of 13. The three main characters spend the entirety of the book running around trying to kill one another. In the meantime, random FBI agents, vagrants, and thugs also find themselves getting murdered. Did I mention that there's a lot of killing in this book?
As for plot, pacing, and character, I found The Reluctant Assassin to be uneven. All 3 of the primary characters were interesting. They were complex, but with just enough stereotyping that they could almost be caricatures ~ evil villain, snarky FBI agent, wise orphan. The pacing and plot were strong at first. I was immediately hooked by both the plight of young Riley and the strange goings-on of the FBI agents. However, as the story progressed the plot began to disappear. The pace continued in a flurry of killings and near-misses, but without a strong plot, these adventures felt hollow.
The biggest problem facing The Reluctant Assassin is that the central conflict of the novel is too weak. Aside from everyone trying to kill each other, not much happens. There's some vague discussion that people who've been to the future could change the course of history, but this danger feels more like an afterthought than a justification for our characters' murderous deeds.
This book would be a fun read for teens who enjoy action-packed novels, but it's not Colfer's best work.
Chevie tells Riley a bit more about herself (p. 188):
'My mom and dad grew up on the Shawnee reservation in Oklahoma. They call it trust land these days. As soon as my dad could afford a motorbike, my mom hopped on the back and they took off across the country. Got married in Vegas and settled in California. I came along a while later, and Dad told me that things were just about perfect for a couple of years until Mom was killed by a black bear over in La Verne.' Chevie shook her head as if she still could not accept this face. 'Can you believe that? A Native American on a camping trip killed by a bear. Dad never got over it. Oh, we were happy enough, I guess. But he drank a lot. When love dies, he told me, there are no survivors.'
There's a lot to say about that paragraph.
What "Shawnee reservation" is Chevie talking about? There are three federally recognized Shawnee tribal nations in Oklahoma: the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, the Shawnee Tribe, and, the Absentee Shawnee Tribe.
That said, "reservation" gives me pause, too. Chevie is 16. Doing some math based on the publication year for The Reluctant Assassin, I think we'd be in the 1960s or 1970s when Chevie's parents were growing up. But, tribes in Oklahoma went through allotment. Their reservations ceased to exist as reservations in the late 1800s. What, I wonder, is Chevie/Colfer talking about when he says "reservation"?
But, Chevie tells us, they don't call it that anymore. Now, they call it "trust land." Colfer is taking us into federal law that is hard to understand. I like that he's trying, but it muddies things up more than is helpful. Before allotment, the Shawnee Tribe had been incorporated into the Cherokee Nation, but had maintained their identity as Shawnees. In 2000, the U.S. Congress, working with the Cherokee Nation and the Shawnee Tribe, restored the Shawnee Nation to its status as a distinct entity. The document about it includes the phrases "trust land" and "trust responsibility" and I suspect that is where Colfer got "trust land" from. But, it doesn't ring true for me to hear Chevie say that they call it trust land now, but I'll ask friends who are Shawnee and see what they say.
Why does Chevie expresses disbelief that a Native American would get killed by a bear on a camping trip? Is it because Native people are supposed to be one-with-the-animals? Or, because Native people would know how to defend themselves from animals in the wild? Either one is a stereotypical framework.
Chevie's dad drinks. Is that a drunken Indian stereotype? Or just a grieving husband like many who turn to alcohol to self-medicate? My hope is that Colfer had the latter one in mind, but to a Native reader, the first one stands out as that drunken Indian stereotype.
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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