Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff
Hardback, 352 pages
Expected Publication: 23rd May 2013 by Orchard Books
Shelves: arc-or-review, better-than-expected, books-i-own, if-i-were-a-boy, read, read-in-2013, series-or-companions, title-appeal, young-adult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When his own parents died of not-so-natural causes at the age of eleven, Boy Nobody found himself under the control of The Program, a shadowy government organization that uses brainwashed kids as counter-espionage operatives. But somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the boy he once was, the boy who wants normal things (like a real home, his parents back), a boy who wants out. And he just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's next mission.'
Firstly, I'll admit that when I saw the cover for Boy Nobody, I wasn't sure it'd be for me - it looked like a boyish action book and I don't usually enjoy those. However (and more importantly), I read the blurb and found myself intrigued - there was something about this book that made me want to pick it up and see what really was inside, whether or not I'd like it. I never actually expected to like this book as much as I did - it's definitely set to be a huge hit!
Boy Nobody is about a boy who doesn't really have much of a stable identity as he is always moving, always changing who he is in order to complete missions for The Program, an undercover organisation. Boy Nobody is brainwashed, he has been taught to be secretive, he is precise, consistent, he knows how to handle himself and perhaps most importantly, he knows how to kill. Although he may be under control of The Program, underneath it all, Boy Nobody is a kid. Underneath these protective layers, he is a person, with his own thoughts feelings, it's important to remember that, and Zadoff certainly reminds you of this throughout the book in subtle ways, despite the book mainly giving straight forward facts.
When we meet Boy Nobody, he's in a new town, attending a new school and awaiting missions from his handlers. The two handlers he has are known as his 'Mother' and 'Father' and they are perhaps the only people that Boy Nobody has a bond with. He doesn't have any friends or family, and it's unlikely, in his profession, that he'll have any in the future. Zadoff is clearly a very smart writer, looking back on this book, there is quite a lot going on. We are given a very clear vision of Boy Nobody's new town, I had a real feel for all of the places he visited and I felt as though, with our protagonist, I should be on the lookout for the small things. Everything and everyone seemed suspect, but also seemed so realistic. I really had a good feel for what our main character was going through, my heart racing and breath quickening at certain moments.
For those who like action, there's a fair amount of it in this book, but I think that even more will be explored in the following books! This has built a fantastic foundation for the story. I personally loved the suspense side of this book, I really didn't know what was going to happen most of the time which is rare in a lot of books these days, especially YA. I also was intrigued by the emotional undertones, or lack thereof - we found out that Boy Nobody was taken under The Program after his real parents died, but why? What lead to this? What is the Program really doing? This book is a portal to so many different things - I really can't wait to learn more.
I honestly believe that this is one of the best books of 2013 so far - it is so refreshing to find something different, interesting and so gripping! Once you pick this book up, it's really hard to put down - there are just so many more things to know and I can't wait to find out more in the next books. Whether you're a girl or a boy, 12 or 21, this isn't a book to be missed, it's sure to have you hooked.