Author: Allen Zadoff
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Number of Pages: 337
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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 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, and moves on to the next target.
When his own parents died of not-so-natural causes at the age of eleven, Boy Nobody found himself under the control of The Program, a shadowy government organization that uses brainwashed kids as counter-espionage operatives. But somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the boy he once was, the boy who wants normal things (like a real home, his parents back), a boy who wants out. And he just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's next mission.
Boy Nobody isn't the perfect book, but it is a super quick and incredibly fun read that I think a lot of teen boys (and girls) will enjoy. A blend of The Bourne Identity, Grosse Point Blank, and Dexter, Boy Nobody follows a 16 year-old assassin who, after the death of his parents four years ago, was recruited and trained by the mysterious Program. After training with the program for two years, Boy, who is called Ben throughout most of the book although it is just his alias for his current mission, was dropped off in a nondescript town and given a phone. He communicates with the leaders of the program, "Mother" and "Father" through intricate signals and apps, like a poker app which tells him where he is going next and who his target will be. Boy's MO is always the same. Find out who the target is, befriend the target's child (apparently, the target always conveniently has a child the same age as Boy), get in to the house, kill the target, and move on to the next mission. The process usually takes a month or two and then he's on to the next town.
The character of Boy really is a cross between Jason Bourne and Dexter Morgan. He is a highly skilled assassin who repeatedly tells us that he doesn't feel anything for anyone. Boy is who he is for one major reason, when he was only 12 years-old he came home to find that the boy he thought was his best friend had tied up and gagged his father. His father is bloody and obviously very hurt. Boy's friend told him that he has no idea who his father really is, before bundling him in a car and taking him to see "Mother" at the Program. During his two years of training (of which we see very little), all his humanity if leeched from him in order to make him the perfect soldier. So much so, that he barely remembers his past, although snippets sometimes shine through.
There are a couple of things that are different about his new mission. For one, it is his highest-profiled target yet--the mayor of NY--and two, he has only been given five days to complete his mission. He finds out that the mayor's child is a daughter, and a stunningly beautiful one at that, and that she doesn't trust anyone. Boy must find a way to get close to this girl as quickly as possible in order to get close to the mayor.
Like I said, Boy Nobody is far from the perfect book. I found certain parts of the book to be incredibly misogynistic with girls throwing themselves at our "hero" left and right, from the clerk at the hotel who makes suggestive comments to a girl at a party who begins to kneel in front of him. It seemed a bit much for a YA book. The premise is somewhat ludicrous, but "action stories" often require the observer to suspend their belief and just enjoy the ride. Finally, I really wanted what exactly his father did that made him a target of the program and it was never explained.
Despite its problems, however, I really enjoyed Boy Nobody. I rarely read only one book at a time. On any given day I could be in the middle of anywhere from 5-10 books, but once I picked up Boy Nobody, I didn't pick up any of the other books I'm currently reading until I was finished with it. The pacing is super quick, which I love, and the story really is just fun. I love all three of the influences I named above and was thrilled to find a YA book that had elements of all three.
I'd definitely recommend Boy Nobody if you are looking for an action-filled, quick read. I had a great time reading this book. It is labelled as book #1 on Goodreads, and I will definitely be on the lookout for the next book. I'm looking forward to his next mission and am hoping to get some more answers about his past.