Zadodff shines in this violent, entertaining twist on the teen spy novel. [Boy Nobody is]…a tense and exciting story with a strong cast…blunt and hard edged narration and twists will keep readers riveted.
[Boy Nobody] is like a darker version of Alex Rider, [and] Thomas in James Dashner’s Maze Runner series… Fans of such fast-paced action novels should love this first installment in the Boy Nobody series.
Operating in the tradition of both James Bond and of Robert Cormier’s I Am the Cheese(1977), Boy Nobody is an auspicious first volume in a promised new series of action-adventure thrillers that will keep readers clamoring for more.
Fast, furious, and fun…Plenty of action and drama, and hairpin turns [that] will keep readers guessing; a twist in the end will have them begging for more.
I’m always game for a a thriller, but I’ve yet to dabble in the Young Adult Thriller genres. I’m glad this was the first book I came across, as it was almost impossible to put down. Allen Zadoff has created a world that is unique, intriguing, and offers characters that many can relate to. And while there was much to love, there were a few things that tripped me up as a reader.
Reading the first few pages, I didn’t know what to make of it. The writing was very short, with very simplistic sentences, and I didn’t understand why. If the entire book was going to be like this, it would have taken me forever to finish. But as I continued reading, I started to understand the writing style. The narration comes from the mind of a sixteen year old spy with almost zero emotions. We don’t even get his name until the last half of the novel. As the story develops further, the writing changes subtlety to mirror the narrators budding emotions and new thought patterns.
In between the present storyline, we get glimpses of what of what transpired in the narrator’s life to bring him to where he is now. We see his past with his parents and his first taste of the organization he works for, other members, what the organization stands for. You don’t know whether the main character is a good guy or a bad guy, and that ambiguity helps make him relatable and pushes the story forward.
While reading, I couldn’t help thinking how much this story reminded me of the TV show, Nikita. The Program, the name of the organization that our main character works for, seems just as shady as Division in the show, and in both, the recruits are young and have troubled pasts. This book also reminded me of the show, Burn Notice, as just like in that show, our main character explains what he’s going to do on his mission. Its aspects like this that draw a reader in.
We eventually get to the main storyline when the m.c. gets his next assignment. And its when the m.c. meets the daughter of his target that we see the cracks in his emotionless mask start to develop. As a 16-year-old boy, there’s only so much you can do to douse your hormones. Especially when you have limited emotional outlets. The relationship that transpires between him and his target’s daughter is just what you’d expect from a high school romance. Quick once its recognized on both sides and full of hormones. While it may have taken time for the two to admit their feelings, even to themselves, it’s a roller coaster ride after the fact. And it almost compromises his mission.
During the present storyline, we’re given glimpses into our m.c.’s past and what made him really want to join The Program. We know this mission is changing him and bringing him back to a time where he didn’t need to shut off his emotions. We eventually discover his name, Zach, and how he was introduced to The Program. Also, we meet the agent responsible for bringing him into the fold and learn that his family may still be alive somewhere. After some great twists and turns, the story concludes, leaving the reader wanting more and more.
Zach starts to question The Program and tries to figure out just who they are. He leaves a loose end that will help him in the next installment, something he wouldn’t have done in the first half of the book. There are so many questions left unanswered, hooking the reader.
I’d definitely recommend this book to those looking for a good Young Adult Mystery/Thriller.
[Disclaimer: I received a free e-book copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
Rating: 5/5 Stars