Series: The Unknown Assassin (Book 1)
Publication Date: May 13, 2014 (Paperback)
Original Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Original Title: Boy Nobody
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
2014 Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers (YALSA)
VOYA and PW
Call him Boy Nobody.
He 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 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, and moves on to the next target.
But when he’s assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter seems so much like him; 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 he just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s next mission.
YALSA named I Am The Weapon (aka Boy Nobody) one of the Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant YA Readers. And they weren’t fooling. To call I Am The Weapon a page turner is a whopping understatement. In the hands of a non-reluctant reader, this book is dangerous. Don’t start it too close to bedtime or you might stay up half the night. It’s been a long while since I devoured a book whole, but I effortlessly gobbled this baby up in one sitting.
The hook here is that Zadoff catches you off guard. At the novel’s opening the protagonist appears to be a normal kid. But our author quickly establishes Boy Nobody’s otherness. He’s tough as nails, calculating, and trained to kill. In fact, he seems more machine than boy. He refers to himself as a soldier and a patriot, and that’s the image you get. But you’ll discover he’s got a history that makes him compellingly complicated. Zadoff does a great job of alternating the back story with the present storyline. Presented alongside the main narrative in alternating fashion through interspersed flashbacks, or through moments when an experience forces a memory to the surface, Boy Nobody’s history never derails the immediate plot but supports it by adding character depth.
Though he refers to the man and woman who train him, give him assignments, and track his progress as “Mother” and “Father,” this is no Harry Potter-style orphaned child. And though the book could be classified as a spy thriller, this is no young Bond. He has his gadgets, yes (and it’s cool to see how Zadoff explains the methodology and the technology), but Boy Nobody is no martini sipping socialite. He’s a full-on fighting and killing machine.
You’d think this would be a guy book, right? While boys will love it, amazingly enough, girls will, too. At times, it feels like a whole new take on themes that are being explored and popularized in dystopian fiction right now. “The Program,” the mind machine pulling the strings, is akin to the totalitarian society, and Boy Nobody ultimately begins to question and struggle against his programming, especially where freedom and love are concerned.
Both Boy Nobody’s internal war and his external mission will maintain a firm grip on your attention. And you’ll not want to stop reading until it has all played out. But have no fear! This is one of those incredible instances where you’ll be able to snatch up the sequel without delay: Book Two, I Am The Mission, releases June 17!
— Dawn Teresa
4.5 of 5 Hearts. Highly Recommended!
Written in brief chapters with concise sentence structure, this fast-paced, no-nonsense thriller will be embraced by even the most reluctant reader. Though guys will obviously flock to it, girls needn’t hesitate to try it. They’ll love it, too! Give this to teen boys not yet ready for Bond, but looking for something grittier and more realistic than Alex Rider. And make sure they share it with their dystopian loving sisters and girlfriends!
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Little, Brown and NetGalley for allowing me access to the title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”