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.
I took some time to write this review after reading the book because I didn’t know where to start. How about…GAH!! That really sums up my feelings for Boy Nobody, because I can’t exactly describe how much I absolutely love this book. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, because the last YA assassin book I read . . . didn’t have any assassination in it. However, I’d read that this one was similar to Alex Rider, which is one of my favourite series (I’m a spy-action sucker). From the very first chapter of this book, I knew it was going to be a great book. I didn’t know how good until I found myself rereading the last couple chapters several times. My love for it was clinched when several days later I thought to myself: Maybe I should reread it and abandon all those other books I’ve started.
“Ben” was everything I was looking for in a teenage assassin. He’s cold, calculating, has a mysterious backstory, and a little bit of a grudge. He doesn’t do his jobs for the love or the thrill of it, he does them because he’s been trained to do it. He weighs the pros and cons of killing outside of the mission based on necessity. His psyche, even though it seems one-dimensional from my description, actually adds so much depth to his character and the story. His new assignment has old memories and unneeded emotions rising to the surface, and although he does a good job of pushing them away, it doesn’t at any point turn him into an emotional basket-case, questioning everything he’s every come to know, yada yada yada. It’s so much more realistic than that. Yes, he has these memories that he’s experiencing that come up at inconvenient times, but they don’t become an excuse to completely alter his character, just make him grow a little bit at a time.
There were just the right amount of action scenes for me. The book wasn’t dominated by them, neither was it totally focussed on his inner narrative, doubts, and confusions. There was a great balance between the two. I also love how he interacted with his peers at his new high school, including the love interest, Samara, Howard the computer hacker, and other typical high school characters. I especially loved his dialogue and thoughts about Samara’s over-protective guy-friend. There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of “high school drama,” but there was enough to establish the setting as such and understand how Ben infiltrates these schools and makes it seem like he’s been there forever, even though he’s only known these other characters for several days. For that reason, I could understand his relationship with Samara and how it had moved that quickly.
Finally, the plot: though it seemed straightforward (kill Samara’s father, the mayor, because he’s potentially a “bad guy”), it took some unexpeced twists and turns. Mysterious men following Ben around after school, a Prescence that he could sense was watching him, and other added mysteries turned this whole story on its head. I didn’t see the end coming! And OH MY GOD that ending. It was awesome, and it made perfect sense with his character, even after the journey he’s been on.
This is one of my new all-time favourites. Ben as an assassin is a realistic, interesting, and even at times extremely relatable character. The twists and turns were unexpected but made sense. The book had no unnecessary info-dumping, and overall it read quickly and had great pacing. I’m hugely excited for the next installment to this intelligent and psychological first book.