I Am the Weapon (Unknown Assassin, 1) by Allen Zadoff, May 13, 2014. 368 pages. Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Source: publisher.
They needed the perfect assassin.First Sentence:
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.
It's a thirty-two ounce Rawlings composite.
Truth be told, I wanted to like I Am the Weapon more than I did. While it was supposed to be a whole new take on the teen spy genre, as it said on a blurb, I found it to be...well not. This is not the first time I've read a book similar to this one. Even though this one ended up being not as spectacular as I was hoping for, I did enjoy seeing the way the story came together.
So, what did I enjoy about the first book in Allen Zadoff's Unknown Assassin series, well, that would have to be Boy Nobody's story. I found it interesting to watch him go from being just a good little soldier within the Program's system, to questioning the rightness behind what he was being asked to do. It was definitely fascinating to watch him slowly come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the Program wasn't completely in the right with their missions and endgame.
Morally, I found it interesting because he had been basically reprogrammed to accept his role and the jobs he was assigned with no questions asked, but, as more of his personal story was shared and how he came to work for them it became apparent that he had whitewashed away his feelings on right and wrong.
If I look at the book as one about right and wrong, as well, as how Boy Nobody's eyes were opened to the life he was brought into, then I Am the Weapon was an interesting read. But, when I look past that, I'm still left feeling disappointed because the author didn't break any new ground with his novel.
While it has been sometime since I last read it, this book made me think of another that was quite similar in many areas. Boy is trained to become assassin, boy starts to question that truth behind his 'job', boy's mind is changed/opened to what could be by a girl. And this is where book one kind of lost me. Sure, there was the beginnings of the questions in regard to the Program from the very beginning of the book-cue, cannot be still and not working as memories and doubts plague character-and you see that not everything is as his "parents" hoped it would be.
Plot aside, let's talk about the writing.
The writing was okay, but what Allen Zadoff did excel at was the fight scenes and crafting intense scenes as Boy Nobody wrestled with his past and the shape of his future. I enjoy books when the author is able to make the reader feel something-whether good or bad for the character and their current situation. While I may not have liked everything about the way Boy Nobody's story and the writing, it does pull you in.
What I did not like about the writing. Well...that would be that I felt there was a lack of a) character development-Ben would start to question things and maybe think for himself and then he would back to siding with the Program. I would have liked to have seen him progress more along the line of deciding whether or not he was truly loyal to them. b) Even though he was in mission mode, i.e all about the job and nothing else, I really didn't buy into the whole connections he was trying to make with his targets. Ben just came across like a two dimensional paper cutout.
While I do have some problems with the overall story and characters, I Am the Weapon had it's entertaining moments and was, mainly the dramatic scenes, a page turner of a read as the constant action draws you in like an action flick.
As this review is getting quite long-this was the short version- I'll be sharing my thoughts on book two in a few days.
Final Verdict: I Am the Weapon- A fast paced read where loyalties are questioned and stakes are high.
Don't forget to check out tomorrow's stop on the blog tour @ Curling Up with A Good Book.
Allen Zadoff is the author of the THE UNKNOWN ASSASSIN series as well as several acclaimed novels including FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE, winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award and a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults. Allen's action-packed series debut, I AM THE WEAPON (formerly BOY NOBODY), is a page-turning thriller about a teenage assassin that has already been optioned for film by Sony Pictures & Overbrook Entertainment. The book was featured in the Los Angeles Times' Summer Reading guide and has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA. Kirkus Reviews called I AM THE WEAPON "fast, furious, and fun." Look for the sequel, I AM THE MISSION, beginning in June 2014. Allen is a graduate of Cornell University and the Harvard University Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. His training as a super spy, however, has yet to be verified. Visit Allen on the web at www.allenzadoff.com.
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3 sets of THE UNKNOWN ASSASSIN books 1 and 2 US only.