The Hit (The Unknown Assassin #1) by Allen Zadoff
Publisher: Orchard Books
Released: September 4th 2014 (first published May 23rd 2013 as Boy Nobody)
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die -- of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target.
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. (from Goodreads)
The Hit was very different to anything I've read before and I will very likely be reading the next book in the series.
I really enjoyed seeing from the point of view of our nameless assassin (who I will refer to Benjamin from now on as that was his fake name for the majority of the book). He was a curious character and I found myself empathising with him, despite the fact that he killed people for a living. He had such a messed up life, I'm not even surprised he turned into an emotionless killing machine. He basically got people to trust him and then ruined their lives. He was trained to think nothing of it, but you could tell (especially later on in the book) that it affected him more than he liked to admit. While I did like Benjamin as a character, I can't say I liked him in the sense that I'd want to be his friend in real life, but he was definitely interesting to read about, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he does next, since he can't just go back to the way things were after what happened at the end of this book.
I wasn't really a massive fan of Sam's character, but then I'm not sure she was supposed to be particularly likeable (I swear she and Benjamin both had massive egos). She challenged Benjamin and made him question what he had been doing over the past few years, and while I think the "romance" was just weird and a bit unbelievable (they had known each other FOUR days) I actually like the way things ended because it wasn't the "I met a girl and she changed me!" sappy love story I expected. I was actually surprised by what happened, but think it was fitting.
Howard was...definitely a strange guy. Again, I didn't really like him, but I'm interested to see what role he will play in the future. Benjamin never had an outside source of help before, so I'm curious to see how he will make use of Howard's tech skills, and whether they'll actually become friends (or whether it will end in unpleasantness).
Plot-wise, I was always a bit suspicious of the Program and I never really understood why Benjamin's parents were killed, but I was intrigued right from page one. There were some good twists and I liked seeing Benjamin's thought processes and all the things that went through his mind when he was on a mission. I definitely still have a few questions about Benjamin's family and about Mike, but not knowing created suspense instead of making me frustrated, and I'm looking forward to finding out the truth in the next book. One thing that did make me laugh was the way private school was portrayed. All the kids were way overly enthusiastic about going to classes and every lesson was some weird intellectual debate that everyone was excited to take part in. I can only speak for myself here, but that's not what it's like. I spent half my time doodling, zoning out or copying from a textbook and nobody was ever THAT enthusiastic about classes or debates.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by The Hit and definitely recommend it to people who enjoy action/thriller type books.