Title: Boy Nobody
Author: Allen Zadoff
Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid, 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 moves on to a new target. But when he’s assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter is unlike anyone he’s ever met, and 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, a teen who wants normal things like a real home and parents, a young man who wants out. And who might want those things bad enough to sabotage The Program’s mission.
This is one of those books that sounded pretty good – the teenage assassin part, anyway – so when I found it at the library, I threw it on my pile and didn’t think much about it. I actually didn’t start reading it, though, until I was reading Dualed and asked my sister to grab “the book with a person and some city buildings on the front.” I didn’t realize how close the covers of Boy Nobody and Dualed were until she brought me this one.
Boy Nobody was a very different kind of first-person narrator. He was conditioned to be a killing machine with no emotions and no remorse. And not to ask questions. It was somewhat strange, and definitely different, to be inside the head of a boy with no emotions. And while I liked him, I think his lack of emotion kept me from connecting with him as much as I could have.
Sam, the mayor’s daughter, had strong opinions about everything, especially political matters. Her personality was very strong, sometimes confrontational. Okay, frequently confrontational. I didn’t like her quite as much as Boy Nobody. I’ll just blame that on my reader’s instinct, because I can’t think of anything in particular that didn’t sit right…something just didn’t.
The plot itself, despite Boy Nobody having no emotions, was mostly an emotional plot. The assassination part was, at least. He would maneuver himself into a position to kill the mayor, but then have second thoughts. Then there was a plot with getting close to Sam, which evolved into a romance of sorts.
And there was the trying to fit into school, where Boy Nobody analyzed the situation and used his extensive knowledge of human psychology to react in a way that made the impression he wanted to make. That was my favorite part – it almost made me want to retake psychology class and see what I missed.
My biggest problem with Boy Nobody was the ending. I realize this kind of story can’t handle a happily-ever-after ending without coming across as fake. But, and I’m trying to avoid spoilers, I expected something better from the ending. I expected some closure from certain plots, or at least a little more from Boy Nobody himself.
There’s room for a sequel, I think, but I’m not sure I’m interested. I liked the book, but as for how it wrapped up – I expected more.