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Boy Nobody

Boy Nobody - Allen Zadoff This review and others are posted at Inspiring Insomnia.

Boy Nobody had me hooked within the first ten pages, and the fast-paced action and tension kept up right through an ending that completely blew me away. While reading Boy Nobody, I thought I could predict how this story of a teenage assassin would play out. I was right in some ways, but I was spectacularly wrong in other ways. My misconceptions about how this story would end are a major factor in what made it so enjoyable.

Boy Nobody's life as an assassin-in-training began when his parents were killed and he was kidnapped into the custody of The Program. He was groomed to kill by Mother and Father, the dangerous heads of The Program who are quite lacking in any actual parental traits. But they know how to kill, and they teach the boy all of the tricks of the trade. There are fascinating descriptions of the secretive communication techniques used by the boy and The Program. He's also trained in "tells" of the marks he's targeting - the little non-verbal cues we all unconsciously use when we communicate. A certain look in the eyes. A tilt of the head. A slight change in voice inflection. I have a little fantasy of being an expert poker player with an awesome ability to suss out tells. Only problem? I don't know how to play poker.

Boy Nobody has a different identity with every new assignment. His age works to his advantage, because who would suspect a teenager of being an assassin? The assignment that makes up the majority of the story is the planned murder of the mayor of New York City, for reasons unknown. The boy is given the name, Ben, and he's instructed to get close to the mayor's daughter, Sam. This was where I worried Boy Nobody would get predictable. I don't think I'm spoiling anything to tell you that Ben becomes attracted to Sam, and he begins to have reservations about killing her father. But everything else I predicted after that was completely wrong. I loved the direction Alan Zadoff took with the story and how he kept Ben realistic. (Well, as realistic as any teenage assassin can be.) The ending was fantastic with a couple of major shockers and one moment, in particular, where I was thrilled Zadoff took the most unexpected route, and we readers are the big beneficiaries.