Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review: Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff

Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff
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.

Thank you HBG for providing an ARC for review!! <33
Review
I'll be on vacation starting June 12th, which is the coming Wednesday and I really want to squeeze in a review before I go AFK, so please excuse this rushed, transcribed-from-my-notes, not-nearly-as-polished-up-as-I-would-like review.

First impression: there's too much rambling about how he doesn't have emotions. Rather than doing that, I prefer the character to show how heartless they are. Words can be said, but they are just the speaker's perspective. It's actions that define you.

And when he does begin to show emotions, it was all too clich├ęd. Some girl and her father was able to change you for the better. Granted, Sam was a total badass. I don't care how she was described to be tall, fit and beautiful, she didn't let anyone push her around. She played people like a keyboard, and she even caught Boy Nobody off guard. It really showed that outer beauty doesn't translate to being dumb, or vice versa. But I really wished she could have handled her emotions about boys a little better. Damn, that girl has some baggage. She somehow became a weak puppy when she "falls" for boys, and I wish she wasn't like that.


It was really neat to read about Boy Nobody's analysis of the situation he is in. The way he injects himself into someone's life, now to act on the first day of school, whether to take on the role of a badass, a loner, a jock etc.

Sometimes, I had to roll my eyes because problems would be solved way too quickly; things that prompted a "well-that-was-convenient" eye roll from me. This is the part where I really drove home how similar this book was to Person of Interest. On the show, John almost never runs into any problem and even if there was a billion machine guns firing it at him, he manages to avoid being shot and take out half a dozen men with his Nerf gun (not really, he always has a real hand gun that comes to him whenever he requires it). Similar things happen in Boy Nobody, like a perfectly lived-in apartment so no one will suspect you are an assassin, or fighting with a group of men on a subway, only to have no one noticing or mentioning anything. It's really easy to hide under the excuse that all of the background stuff are taken care of by The Program, but I really would have liked to see a little bit of Boy Nobody setting up from his assignments, like charming the old landlord into getting an apartment near his new school for a lower price, or going to find proper clothes to fit in as a teen, or special clothes he would wear when he gets to meet the mayor. You know, more stuff that accumulates to him gaining Sam's trust, instead of gaining Sam's trust by being mysterious, flirty and hard-to-get.

With all that said, I totally love the show Person of Interest. The cases are interesting, the villains are great villains, not to mention John and Harold makes a great team. Boy Nobody comes close to how entertaining Person of Interest is. My favourite part has to be how The Program communicates with Boy Nobody. They talk in code and it's so interesting to read about the reason behind each code, like the length of each assignment is disguised as the size of a picture file, to how to signal for a clean-up crew (by reporting in a Hazardous Condition using the Weather Channel app). Man, I want an iPhone that can go into secure-mode...not that I need a clean-up crew to clean up any dead bodies...

I've seen a couple of reviews talking about how the writing of this book is a bit amateur. I have to agree, mostly because it's fairly choppy. There are a lot of dramatic emphasis put into the writing but I saw it as an expression of Boy Nobody. He has always been about getting from Point A to Point B in the most efficient way, which means the chapters should be kept short and accented, because that's the way he thinks. It also adds to the pace and suspense of the novel, to have quick, short chapters. But I think Allen Zadoff missed out on an opportunity to show Boy Nobody's transformation a little bit further, by elongating the chapters as the story progressed. Granted, the pace of the story would have been slowed down by quite a lot. but I think the way Boy Nobody conducted his actions also slowed down. Ah, whatever, I'm just rambling on now. This is what happens when I realized how bad I was at analysing books back in high school. Now I'm trying to over-compensate by over-analysing. :P

Overall, this was an okay thriller that deals with espionage, assassins and finding one self. Considering it's hard to find YA books within this genre, it is a worthy read. But, if anyone is interested, they should watch Person of Interest instead.


But just barely. 

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