Allen Zadoff takes the teen-on-a-mission trope to a whole new level in Boy Nobody. The title character is an assassin who works for a mysterious agency. A teenage boy without a past, he is able to slip into the school system, strike a casual friendship with the son or daughter of the target, make the kill and then disappear before anyone connects him to the death. Things get complicated when he falls in love with the daughter of his next target, the mayor of New York City. To make matters worse, he’s been having flashbacks of his life before he became Boy Nobody, which hint that he may have been a victim himself once, and that his current life was forced on him against his will.
Boy Nobody is an action-packed YA thriller and a quick, exciting read. I didn’t expect to like the romance, particularly when I started liking how badass Boy Nobody was as an assassin. But I like Sam — she’s smart and sharp, and able to see through Boy Nobody’s veneer. She calls him out when he’s lying or not standing up for a bullying victim, but she isn’t over the top acerbic either, nor is she by any means perfect. While part of me did wish he would just fulfill his mission already and set to work learning about his own past, another part of me understood why he kept hesitating, and why he began wondering about his orders in general in the first place.
This is the first book in the series, and I can just imagine how exciting the next books will be, as Boy Nobody delves ever deeper into his past and into the organization that sends him on missions. In the meantime, this first book is an exciting ride, a more action-packed, less introspective version of Barry Lyga’s Game series. I particularly love how the romance plays out — the turn it takes is unexpected and, I think, a brave and necessary move. If it were the 90s, I’d say this series would make the perfect TV show. I don’t know if there’s a market for this type of show these days, but as a book series at least, it’s a fantastic read, and I look forward to the rest of the series.
Thank you to HBG Canada for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.