Book Review: I Am The Weapon by Allen Zadoff

Book Review: I Am The Weapon by Allen Zadoff

I Am the Weapon by Allen Zadoff
Series: The Unknown Assassin
On Sale Date: May 13, 2014
Juvenile Fiction \ Thriller \ Spy
Ages 15 And Up, Grades 10 to 17
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Amazon | Goodreads | Website

They needed the perfect assassin.

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.

In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero.

I AM THE WEAPON by Allen Zadoff is the first book in the Boy Nobody/The Unknown Assassins series for teen readers. This is a high octane, action packed read. A spy thriller that features an exciting new antihero that will appeal to both teen boys and girls as well as readers who need lightning fast reads to help them keep turning the pages. I read this story in nearly one sitting, and could hardly put the book down. It reads extremely fast. The chapters open and end with intrigue and action, compelling you to keep turning the pages. Very hard to put down.

I could not help, but grab this book up for review with its spy/thriller theme and a teen protagonist that reminded me of a younger version of the character Jason Bourne from Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity. Although the stories are completely different, both are trained assassins with little memories of what they were before they became assassins. Boy Nobody, who assumes the alias Ben has been stripped down of emotion, brainwashed and trained as a killer. He fights for a secret organization know as The Program, the same people who killed his parents. Threatened, he is given the choice to join The Program or die like his parents who betrayed their country. His chooses life and The Program, and slowly he becomes Boy Nobody. A spy.

Two years changed me from a boy into something else. Human alchemy as practice by The Program. At first I fought the transformation. Then I went with it.
My initial impulse to die went away quickly. Nobody wants to die. It's unnatural. What I was really experiencing was shock. My parent's death, my betrayal by Mike, my captivity with strangers.
When the shocked passed, my desire to die was replaced by a more natural instinct.
The desire to live.

Zadoff creates a character that begins as a normal child and through The Program, is changed into this unfeeling machine. Forged into a weapon, you can't help, but fear and yet feel sympathy for Ben. He lives only to complete is next assignment, living mission to mission, changing characters like a chameleon. Becoming his next target's best friend, adapting and changing to each setting. New High School, new name, and a new mission to terminate. But, you know that there's a kid underneath all those empty layers, alone, fighting to break free.

When he takes on his next mission, the mayor of New York City, things begin to change. Assigned to "befriend" the mayor's daughter and infiltrate his private security, Ben begins to question The Program. Reminded of his father, Ben has trouble for the first time completing a mission. Feelings long repressed surface, but is it too late to change? With The Program watching his every move, can Ben break free. Can he face what he has become?

I love reading about antiheroes and with this spy thriller, it was the perfect vehicle to explore the many shades of Ben's character. Wrongs and rights. The dialogues are short, almost clipped yet underneath what is being said by Ben, is a monolog that gives great insights into his character's feelings. The fast pace and action that was nearly at the end of each chapter made this story hard to put down. There's violence for sure, and Ben is not immune to using it. While he is a teen, his actions are those of a trained adult assassin.

The mystery behind The Program is still being revealed (I want to know much more about Mother & Father.) The additional characters (other possible trained teen assassins) have me even more excited for what this series has in store. There's weapon, gadgets, computer hacking and more, plus kick ass fighting, a smidgen of romance (the spy always has to have a girl.) Within this story is a setting background of High School dynamics fueling the tension and angst that normally does not have any place within this setting surrounded by terrorism and secret agencies.

Perfect for fans of spy thrillers, high octane/action, page-turning ability, and those who like antiheroes.

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