(Boy Nobody #1)
by Allen Zadoff
by Allen Zadoff
Hardback: 352 Pages
Publication: June 11, 2013 by Little Brown BFYR
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.
◆ A copy was provided by Little Brown for review ◆
The writing is short and concise. I felt as though I was seeing the world through Boy Nobody's thoughts rather than how he experiences it. In a way, this reflects who he is. He's a soldier on a mission. Every time he moves on to the next target, he adopts a new identity, one that allows him to get closer to the mark (who will bring him close to the target). There isn't "somebody" within him to experience the world. At the same time, the narrative style doesn't allow for much detail to be incorporated into the story, and there is a feeling of distance between (1) the reader and Boy Nobody and (2) Boy Nobody and the rest of the world.
Because of the narrative distance, it's hard to relate to Boy Nobody on an emotional level. He notes facts, but he keeps a tight rein on his emotions with almost superhuman control. Even when he lets some opportunities to complete his mission go, he finds excuses for himself resolves to figure out why he can't do what he was sent there to do. The way he acts, it's like he's almost like some form of artificial intelligence. Only, he really is human, and he's finally remembering what it's like to be one.
Here, the plot becomes one we've seen many times. The girl and her father open the boy's eyes to what it means to be human, and he begins to question his life and what he wants to do with it. Sam wasn't quite what I expected. She's beautiful to what seems like model perfection, but she's also kind of a badass, and she's able to confuzzle Boy Nobody, which nobody has done yet. Inside, however, she's fragile when it comes to love, and she's an emotional wreck from her mother's death, her mysterious relationship with her ex, and her father's job. The way she opens up so fast to Boy Nobody is freaky and unexpected. I wish that the story didn't move so fast, but at the same time I understand that it's necessary because of the time limit on Boy Nobody's mission.
What I love the most is the mission side of the story. The way Boy Nobody communicates with his supervisors is interesting and reminds me a little of spy novels--how they have all this crazy gadgetry. Boy Nobody's "gadgets" are more toned down and inconspicuous though, consistent with how his entire life is kept low profile. I also really like the action scenes, especially the ones at the end where he learns the truth about why he was sent to mark Sam.
Not much is revealed about The Program that Boy Nobody works for, which is understandable given Boy Nobody's lack of knowledge about it. During his mission, however, he comes across some startling, though expected, facts that make him further question who he is and what he's doing. It looks like we'll be learning more about The Program and Boy Nobody's role in it with the publication of book two, and I'm curious enough to want to read it.
Content: sex scenes, violence