Book Review: Boy Nobody Ian White May 31, 2013 Features 3327 We don’t normally review books on ‘Movie Ramblings’ but we couldn’t ignore the spectacular advance publicity about this one, or the fact that it’s already being developed as a possible franchise for Will Smith’s son, Jaden. Whether or not that happens — and it should do, because BOY NOBODY is incredibly cinematic, even on the page — I have huge hopes for whatever happens to the franchise in print. Boy Nobody is a teenage assassin. As the book jacket describes it, he’s the perennial new kid at school: new town… new name… new mission. He kills his target and disappears, without sympathy or remorse. The beauty of this project is — he’s a character with a solid and intriguing backstory we’re immediately fascinated by, and despite the apparent ruthlessness of Boy Nobody’s profession Allen Zadoff’s incredibly fine, complex but uncomplicated-to-read writing style immediately allows us to have considerable empathy for the title character. Zadoff takes us effortlessly into Boy Nobody’s mind, into his memories, into the way he makes his choices, into the struggles he faces in making those choices: true moral, emotional and physical decisions. And, on his new mission, when his next target is the most powerful one he’s ever been assigned, Boy Nobody is forced to confront who he is and what brought him to this place, and – perhaps – rethink his own purpose in the world. The writing is fast. The story is engrossing and exciting and continuously builds momentum with new twists and swerves. The dialogue sings off the page, bristling with truth and humour. This is a novel seemingly positioned for young adults but, like the best young adult fiction, it’s a novel that doesn’t have an age limit. Everyone from the target audience upwards should read enjoy Boy Nobody immensely and take something they’ll remember away from the experience. Boy Nobody is a spy / assassin in a very similar way that Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne is a spy / assassin… which means there’s more humanity and deep characterisation than spying and assassination. It’s a chinese puzzle of a story. It’s a thriller that truly thrills. And it’s wonderful to read a solid young adult fiction that’s anchored in the possibilities of the real world, and makes us look at our world in a different way. There are no young wizards or vampires or mini-James Bonds or Greek gods here, which is hugely refreshing. Read Boy Nobody before the movie’s made and you have the actor already inside your head. I’m not sure if Jaden Smith is the right choice for this, but he wouldn’t be the wrong choice either. One of the many intriguing and wonderful aspects to this character is how much we put together for ourselves about who he is and what he looks like, with Zadoff adding just enough touches to keep him clear in our own mind. I hate the cliche “unputdownable” so I’m not going to use it. Just know this. I don’t read as much as I should, and as a writer I’m embarrassed to admit I usually find reading very hard work but… I read the almost 350 pages of BOY NOBODY over two days, in two sessions. I could easily have read them in one day in one session, but I deliberately made myself stop at midpoint because I was enjoying the journey so much I didn’t want it to end. I can’t give any book a higher recommendation than that. If you want to be in at the start of a genuine phenomena read BOY NOBODY now, before the rest of the world finds out he’s a Boy who’s Somebody very special.