bnBoy Nobody by Allen Zadoff
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: ALA 2013
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

They needed the perfect assassin.

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.

In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero.

When I picked up this ARC from the Little, Brown booth at ALA, I thought it looked like it could be a fun read. I was right, and man, this one is quick! I finished it in about 24 hours. The writing style flows very well, and though I had questions (my main one being “why?”), I liked what I read. We don’t learn Boy’s name at first, not even his assumed name, so there’s this air of mystery surrounding him. You come to understand that he’s controlled by The Program, though the question when will it end begins flitting through his mind now. We find out that Boy’s parents were murdered by another boy like him, though the reasons for the murder are shadowed. We know The Program uses male children as assassins, and as I mentioned above, my big question was why? Why kids? Why not kill them too? Why “rehabilitate” them and use them that way? Seems like a recipe for disaster to me, and it turns out to be when “Ben” starts questioning The Program’s motives.

Things are happening in the mayor’s house that Ben feels he needs to investigate further before actually taking the step to murder the mayor. This mostly surrounds his burgeoning feelings for Sam, the mayor’s daughter. Sam isn’t what she seems though. No one in this story is as they seem, except for maybe Sam’s friend Erica. The interactions between Ben and the rest of the students is interesting, because we’re catching Ben right as his training is starting to break down. He’s questioning orders and making emotional decisions. His handlers are concerned. He’s never failed to complete a mission before, and he promises he won’t fail now. But we’re in Ben’s head, and we see his doubts. He doesn’t think the mayor is guilty this time. He’s right too. I wasn’t too surprised by the twist, but the ending is a beautiful thing. I’m looking forward to what Zadoff has to offer in the future.