by Eoin Colfer
The reluctant assassin is Riley, a Victorian boy who is suddenly plucked from his own time and whisked into the twenty-first century, accused of murder and on the run.
Riley has been pulled into the FBI’s covert W.A.R.P operation (Witness Anonymous Relocation Program). He and young FBI Agent Chevie Savano are forced to flee terrifying assassin-for-hire Albert Garrick, who pursues Riley through time and will not stop until he has hunted him down. Barely staying one step ahead, Riley and Chevie must stay alive and stop Garrick returning to his own time with knowledge and power that could change the world forever.
I grabbed an audio copy of The Reluctant Assassin from the local library because I was in need of a good young-adult novel to listen to while running errands. I was also drawn to the story’s premise; the idea of time traveling chase between present-day London and Victorian London is interesting. I was also impressed to find a young-adult book that wasn’t a dystopian novel. Eoin Colfer is widely known for his Artemis Fowl series which I have yet to read, so I started this novel with an unbiased opinion. This is one of the few reviews that does not compare the two series.
Let’s start with some positive points; Colfer’s world building is spot on. Colfer’s descriptions left me feeling like I was in Victorian London instead of cruising the streets of sunny Florida. I could smell the death and despair of The Nickle. I could visualize the opulence of Charismo’s abode and the technical ruggedness of the time portals. Colfer does an outstanding job of providing each time period with its own distinct voice which allows readers to immerse themselves in the ornate settings.
I have mixed feelings about the three main characters. I loved Riley; he is scrappy, spunky, and downright full of the snarky dry British humor that I adore. Riley is the driving character of the novel and I enjoyed listening to his reactions to all the dangerous situations he encounters. I was equally unimpressed with FBI Agent Chevron Savano. She is shallow and more obnoxious and self-important than the snarky girl I believe Colfer was attempting to present. Most of her lines were so cliché that I got sick of listening to her by the end of the second CD. Albert Garrick is a twisted and dark villain who still manages to bring humor to the story. I liked him but I think I would have enjoyed him more if the novel had been shorter.
Which leads to the main issue I had with The Reluctant Assassin; I am not exactly sure what audience this novel is geared towards. It is too drawn out and violent for a children’s novel, but it drags too much and lacks the character development found in a young-adult novel. I believe it would be a good transition novel for kids working their way in to the young adult genre but it is not strong enough to really compete with other available young-adult fiction.
The second book in the W.A.R.P. series came out last June, so I may pick up just to see how the series progresses. Also, I definitely recommend listening to Maxwell Caulfield if you are a fan of audio books. His voice added depth to The Reluctant Assassin and he is wonderfully gifted at distinguishing character personality with his voice. Let me know what you think of the The Reluctant Assassin or Colfer’s other novels.