Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What we're reading: End of a thrilling trilogy

I Am the Traitor is the third book in the "Boy Nobody" series by Allen Zadoff. Except that it's not called that anymore, now it's the "Unknown Assassin" series. Confused? We who buy books for the library were confused as well!

Zadoff initially released the first book as Boy Nobody, which we bought; but then he realized it would be a series, not a stand-alone. Since the sequel was to be I Am the Mission, his publisher talked him into a re-release of the first book, calling it I Am the Weapon, naming the third book I Am the Traitor, and changing all the covers to match. So we have both Boy Nobody and I Am the Weapon on the shelf, but it's the same book.


(My suspicion is that the publisher wanted to distance it from another YA book, called Nobody, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, which is also about a boy assassin, although with a slightly different twist! I reviewed that book here, but here's a tip: Her "Naturals" series and the new book The Fixer are both better than this early novel.)

I enjoyed Zadoff's series. I thought it was clever, interesting, and certainly action-packed, with the breathless fast pacing that appeals to both teens and adults. That kind of pacing is why James Patterson sells millions of books, despite his questionable writing skills. (Zadoff's are better, let me hasten to say!) We read the first book in 8+9 Book Club last year, and those who enjoyed it will want to round out their experience with this one.

In book three, we find out more about Boy Nobody, aka Zach, we get to connect again with Howard from Book Two (one of my favorite characters, because most real), and we meet a few new people while learning more about characters from previous books. There's a little romance, a lot of betrayal, and, of course, major action.
And there is a story arc and a satisfactory resolution to Zach's questions about his father and somewhat about The Program (although I, like others, would have appreciated an epilogue to know what happens to all those children!).

The emotion this series provokes most in me is to say, "it is what it is," because of what is not here. We never really learn much back story for Mother and Father, or what connection The Program has to the government, to other secret agencies--who knows it exists? Is it operating entirely on its own? That's hard to believe, given the public nature of many of its targets. Characterization is basic, and although what is there is nicely done, it's pretty scanty.

The whole point of this series is to keep you on the edge of your seat, guessing, and it does! But sooner or later you want to quit guessing and KNOW. Some things you do learn, many things you don't. So…I'd give this a 3.5, and say that I'm glad I followed through with the trilogy. I believe it will have many teen fans, but it's not a trilogy they will remember years later and say, Wow, those books changed things for me, or Gee, I think I'll reread that. It's sheer entertainment. And that's okay!

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