Palate Cleanser: I am the Weapon (The Unknown Assassin #1) – Alan Zadoff

18453088Promotional eCopy provided by NetGalley in exchange for fair review

Summary:

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.

Genre: YA Thriller

Review:

Originally published under the title of Boy Nobody, I am the Weapon tells the tale of a 16 year old assassin who begins to question what he has been taught, causing a dangerous unraveling of his current situation. What made this an especially interesting read for me is that I read it right on the heels of Throne of Glass. The previous book was a lot of fun, but read more like escapist fantasy. Although a fun character, Celaena was never fully convincing as an assassins, aside from her skills and her time in the camp, nothing about her felt like she’d been a trained killer from a young age.

Zadoff doesn’t have the same problem here.

In fact, if you didn’t know he was 16, you’d never have guessed that he was. And I mean that as a compliment. Someone who has been killing since the age of twelve or thirteen shouldn’t feel normal because they aren’t normal. He is a solider and the thinks like one. And what I especially like about the character is how you see glimpses of what might have been. When he starts to have feelings for Sam, his desire to put a gang of bullies in their place and so on. It feels like a very plausible way for a person in Zach’s (a name we only learn towards the very end of the book) situation to behave.

This book has some great side characters too. There’s Howard, who a decidedly creepy misfit who you wonder if he’d been as creepy without being bullied. There’s Darius, a friend who tries to keep Zach away from Sam, and it genuinely is out of a good place (he cares for her, but hasn’t acted on it). Sam(ara) turns out to be a pretty interesting character as well.

While you’ll never mistake this for a John Le Carré novel, there are some good spy novel elements in there and it’s clear that Zadoff put some thought into it. I can see this being a good entry point for dipping your toes in the genre.

On a techincal side, some may not be huge fans of how the writing (both sentences and chapters) are so terse and brief, but I think it fits the character and the action well so it didn’t bother me. It’s just something I want to point out.

All in all, I rather enjoyed this book and I’m glad I got my hands on it. The sequel, I am the Mission is due out on June 17th.

Verdict: Buy It.

Available Now.

P.S. You’ll see my review soon, most likely after Ruin and Rising. There’s just no way I’m not going to stop what I’m doing when I get my hands on it on Tuesday 🙂

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