The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer
Digital Audiobook narrated by Maxwell Caulfield
Published by Hyperion on May 7, 2013
Series: WARP #1
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Young Adult
Length: 341 pages or 9 hours, 29 minutes
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • IndieBound
Riley, a teen orphan boy living in Victorian London, has had the misfortune of being apprenticed to Albert Garrick, an illusionist who has fallen on difficult times and now uses his unique conjuring skills to gain access to victims' dwellings. On one such escapade, Garrick brings his reluctant apprentice along and urges him to commit his first killing. Riley is saved from having to commit the grisly act when the intended victim turns out to be a scientist from the future, part of the FBI's Witness Anonymous Relocation Program (WARP) Riley is unwittingly transported via wormhole to modern day London, followed closely by Garrick.
In modern London, Riley is helped by Chevron Savano, a seventeen-year-old FBI agent sent to London as punishment after a disastrous undercover, anti-terrorist operation in Los Angeles. Together Riley and Chevie must evade Garrick, who has been fundamentally altered by his trip through the wormhole. Garrick is now not only evil, but he also possesses all of the scientist's knowledge. He is determined to track Riley down and use the timekey in Chevie's possession to make his way back to Victorian London where he can literally change the world.
First off, I’m really glad I didn’t go into this expecting Artemis Fowl, because if I had, I would have been disappointed. I’ve actually read a decent amount of Colfer’s work, so I’m familiar with the different types of stories he has but out. Artemis is the best, but he is always entertaining. And that’s still true here: The Reluctant Assassin is entertaining.
The story follows unlikely pair Riley and Chevie, one a waif from Victorian England, the other an American teen who is the product of a decommissioned FBI taskforce. When Riley falls through a time tunnel, the pair struggle to escape a mad assassin and set things right in the present and history alike. It’s a bit of a mad runabout, with the purpose falling away until it seems like the books will never end. It’s entertaining, but altogether, it’s a bit pointless.
The characters were fine, although there were moments that made me a bit uncomfortable. Chevie is Native American, when the pair travelled back in time, the story was rife with racial slurs. While, yes, these were period appropriate, I think they were unnecessary. Added to this, I wasn’t crazy about the accent the narrator used for her. Or much of the narrator in general – his vocals were flat and sometimes difficult to distinguish. But still… I think Chevie and her surroundings could have been better adapted, especially considering this is a middle grade novel?
However, the writing style was very true to Colfer’s original. It was light and fast-paced and funny when I didn’t expect it to be funny. I didn’t completely dislike the book – there were moments where it was perfectly entertaining! But The Reluctant Assassin feels like more of a library book than a buyer for me. Then again, I am many years older than the target audience, and I can see middle schoolers finding this particularly amusing. The fact that Riley keeps asking for a beer and Chevie keeps flailing and telling him absolutely not may be of particular amusement! But it was a little off center for my tastes.
Generally speaking, I’d say that while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend The Reluctant Assassin, I still recommend Eoin Colfer, and any fan should try out this series and see if they enjoy it. 🙂 I’d still start with Artemis Fowl or The Supernaturalist.
Is there a book/series your favorite author you didn’t enjoy? While Eoin Colfer isn’t my favorite, I do enjoy most of his work, so this was a little bit of a bummer. Tell me in the comments which books have disappointed you!