Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Unknown Assassin: I am the weapon

The Unknown Assassin: I am the weapon

Allen Zadoff
Fiction  Series
For ages 14 and up
Little Brown, 2014   ISBN: 978-0316199674

When he was twelve Ben made friends with Mike and the two boys became inseparable. Then one day Ben was told that there had been accident. He went home and found Mike waiting for him. Mike showed Ben his father, who had been tied to a chair, and he told Ben’s father that Ben was no longer his son. Clearly Mike was not an ordinary boy, and Ben could not understand what was going on. After seeing his father tied to the chair Ben passed out and he never saw his mother or father again. He was told that his father was assassinated because he was a traitor and that his mother was also dead.  Now a confused and devastated orphan, Ben was recruited to join The Program. Ben wasn’t really given a choice, but he was told that being part of The Program meant that he was being a “patriot” who was serving his country.

   Raised and trained by a woman who calls herself Mother and a man called Father, Ben is now a sixteen year old assassin. He has successfully killed several people, people Mother and Father have told him to kill. Ben does not ask why he has to kill these people, accepting that his handlers have a good reason for asking him to do what he does so well.

   Always on the move from one mission to the next, Ben has no home, no friends, no life that he can really say belongs to him. He is a weapon that The Program uses to get rid of people who are a threat to America’s security. He accepts this. He does what he is told.

   Then Ben is told that his next target is the mayor of New York City. His job is to get close to the mayor by making friends with his daughter, Sam. What is strange this time round is that Ben only has five days to complete the mission. He usually has a lot longer to prepare and he cannot help wondering why he has been given this short deadline,

   Ben joins Sam’s school and very quickly finds out that his “mark” is not your average private school teen. She is smart, but she also very observant and Ben begins to realize that she is not going to be easy to manipulate. In spite of this, Ben does manage to secure an invitation to a party at Sam’s apartment, and he also manages to get past the security men so that he can meet the mayor, who is taking refuge in his home office. It turns out that the mayor is a nice person, a caring father, and a man who is trying to figure out how best to serve the people. Something about the mayor stays Ben’s hand, preventing him from poisoning the man.

   Ben’s handlers know that he wasted his opportunity to assassinate the mayor, and they make it clear that another failure will not be tolerated. Ben gets back to work, determined to succeed the next time he gets close to the mayor, and yet, there in the back of his mind, something is beginning to stir. A feeling, an emotion is making itself known to the young man who claims to feel nothing.

   Ben’s task is further complicated by the fact that someone seems to be stalking him. Ben has no idea who this someone is, but it is not easy to commit murder when you are trying to dodge being attacked yourself.

   In this often grim but fascinating book we see how a young man who has had his life taken from him struggles when he is given a task to do that should be easy. For some reason the mission becomes impossibly complicated. Emotions that he has forgotten how to feel resurface, and he begins to question who he is, what the truth is, and who his employers really are.