If you know me, you know that I love thrillers. And, if you know me really well, you might know that I love The Winter Soldier (aka Bucky Barnes). I like assassins who turn out to have a heart, who end up questioning their orders. These stories are intense and fun, but they’re not usually something that you find in teen books. Or at least, not to the level that you find in Boy Nobody/I Am The Weapon.
Boy Nobody is the story about an unnamed (until near the end of the novel) teenage boy who is also an assassin. When he was twelve, his family was killed and he was basically kidnapped and turned into an assassin who can get places adults cannot. He has been doing this for a long time and he’s very good at his job.
We follow our unnamed teenage assassin as he finishes one assignment and is then given a second — this time he must kill a mayor. Of course, the mission isn’t as easy as our assassin expects it to be — his timeline is a week and then there’s a girl involved. But unlike so many other novels, Boy Nobody does something very different with it’s anti-hero.
Very explicit spoilers for Boy Nobody ahead.
When I first heard the description for Boy Nobody, the only thing I could think of was a Captain America: The Winter Soldier fanfic I read where The Winter Soldier was trying to readjust to being Bucky Barnes again, but finding it hard. He, not unlike our teenage assassin, had been kidnapped and brainwashed into killing people. While reading Boy Nobody I felt like this book was a good representation of what a teenage Winter Soldier (or, perhaps, a teenage Black Widow) might’ve been like (except without all the Nazi/Soviet/etc business).
Our teenage assassin goes by the name of Benjamin during his week long mission — he befriends the daughter of the mayor quickly, but this ends up mucking things up. He starts to develop feelings for her, he can’t kill her father even though it’s his job. He gets hung up on her, on if he’s even doing the right thing — there are moral questions with no good answers to them, just like in real live.
Ben lives in worry that he’s going to disappoint his “parents” (the people who trained him) because he is unable to complete his mission. And he’s not wrong, but they give him another chance, and then another and in the end, Ben completes his mission.
Toward the second half of the novel, Ben’s mission changes. He is told his new target is Sam, the daugther of the mayor. This, of course, is unacceptable. What possibly danger could Sam cause? Ben has killed many people, without knowing why, and the mayor is another on his list. But Sam is someone he is close to, someone he cares about.
Zadoff takes these feelings, these emotions that Ben feels and turns them into a sense of conflict. Not between Sam and Ben (or at least not in a romantic way) but instead inside of Ben. He has no moral compass until suddenly he has one. He doesn’t want to kill the mayor, he doesn’t want to kill Sam. But in the end, Ben must choose and he decides to kill the mayor because he cannot believe that Sam is behind anything.
Things are not what they seam and I won’t give away the reveal of Sam’s involvement (though at this rate I’ll be spoiling the ending, but I’ll leave something spoiler free), but I will say that Zadoff makes a decision I never, ever saw coming. Ben ends up confronting Sam and he must make a choice, kill her or let her be killed by someone else instead.
I liked this book because Zadoff took risks I never expected. He made you care, without even trying very hard and he did it in such a way that it was almost painful when Ben had to make his choices.
Boy Nobody was quite good. I’m tempted, when I have the time, to go and read more in the series. But the same time, it was so good that I’m slightly worried the other books in the series won’t be as enjoyable.