Thursday, June 20, 2013

REVIEW: Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff

Boy Nobody (Boy Nobody, #1) Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was dazzled. Dazzled!

+ the hero

The book was told exclusively in 1st person POV from the hero’s POV, and I loved it because watching Ben’s mind calculate as he gauged people and situations thrilled me. Ben was believable as an assassin without a trace of doubt! He was competent. He was collected. He was peerlessly cool. When unpredicted hurdles arose and things went out of control, he adjusted to the situations and moved towards his goals. Despite the great potential for Stockholm Syndrome and attempts at brainwashing, he never succumbed to blind loyalty like a fool.

The intentional lack of development of the hero’s identity didn’t bother me whereas in other books it would have. I was so engrossed with the book that only after I finished it did I realize that Ben was rarely referred to by his name, which was fake of course, and that his real name slipped by me, only with a re-read did I learn what it was. Talk about being a Boy Nobody; the book took its title to heart.

+ the plot

The writing read like liquid running through a pipe, straightforward and fast. Chapters were short and smartly divided, every scene punctual. The book was one of those books where everything seemed so simple and effortless but you know in reality it’s to the contrary.

The plot retained the complexity and the relevancy of current events like an adult thriller. There was corruption, espionage, inter- and intra-national conflicts. Just because certain groups had the same nationality and nationalism didn’t mean they had the same goals, and your worst enemies could also be your compatriots.

The plot also had romance, which I wasn’t a big fan of to be honest but mostly in principle because of how ludicrous romance in YA can be. The romance in the book was a few shades of cliché because an intriguing girl was the push the hero needed to start reaching for independence. However, I strongly appreciated that the romance tried to do something different, hence the few shades of cliché and not outright cliché. The romance did include a love triangle but it was more for the plot’s sake than for the romance’s. The second love interest never held any serious competition; all the parties involved knew what was going on, who really liked whom. Jealousy never arose as a real issue and meanness never dictated the characters’ actions. Best of all, stupidity never affected their judgement, which I loved so much that it bears repeating: stupidity never affected their judgement! The romance worked in synergy with the plot rather against it, unlike in countless YA.

And the twist! I loved that the twist wasn’t afraid to skewer the romance. The way things resolved was realistic and in accordance with a spy novel: trust no one.

+ the issues

Where I really took issue was with the world building and a secondary character who was a bad stereotype. I understood that things were supposed to be mysterious but I wished for more answers. Putting aside the hero’s lack of identity, very little was revealed about who the hero worked for or why he was kidnapped and pressed into spy service.

Howard was a nerd, an outcast, and a favorite target of bullies. I didn’t like how he came to serve as the convenient hacker for the hero towards the end. I didn’t like how being the hero’s stooge was the only role he had in the book and the only reason why he wasn’t sleeping with the fishes. I found his character development demeaning and a tad offensive.

In Conclusion

I rate Boy Nobody 3-stars for I liked it. The book had romance but this shouldn’t deter readers who prefer non-romantic YA because the book read firmly like a thriller. Readers who like Game by Barry Lyga should check out the book. Readers who didn’t like Impostor by Susanne Winnacker should also check out this book because this was the competent spy the main character should have been.

Goodreads | Amazon

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