Monday, August 5, 2013

Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday review: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer

From the publisher:

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.

My thoughts: 
I liked this book a lot. It's a new middle-grade series from an author who clearly knows how to write for tweens (Artemis Fowl, anyone?). It's fast-paced, yet Eoin Colfer knows just how to weave in the technical details needed to explain time travel without bogging the story down. Loved how this story is great for both boys and girls. 

My only trouble was with the shifting perspective--I was almost sorry when we shifted away from Chevie's perspective, since she had the fun voice. But the story was strong enough for me to forgive the shifts in point of view. Looking forward to next in the series.

How I found out about this book: advertising, which rarely works on me. I think it was in a School Library Journal newsletter.

Extra thought: I liked the U.K. cover so much better (here to the right). Why they opted for this other in the U.S., I don't know. It's not bad, but looks a little cheap and cheesy compared to the U.K. counterpart...


  1. Sounds like a good book. This week I commented on Artemis Fowl on my blog, and one of the things I noticed most about that book was the POV. Interesting that the POV of this new book drew your attention too. I can see how a shifting POV would be a bummer once you fall in love with a character. Thanks for this review.

  2. I'm interested to see the next in the series on this one.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Saw your posts on Colfer's Artemis Fowl--I guess great minds think alike :-)

  3. I have been wanting to read the Artemis Fowl series but for one reason or other, usually other books, I haven't got around to it yet. How different is the timekey/time zone element in this book? It appears to be a fairly recurrent element in fantasy/sf books.

  4. I liked how it was done: in a thriller/mystery kind of way. But I don't read a whole lot of scifi/fantasy... I think any cliche elements will be canceled out by Mr. Colfer's writing--it's really good, in my opinion.

  5. Wow. THe cover looks a lot like yours. Same artist?

  6. You had me wondering, Patti... The artist who did my cover did do the new Artemis Fowl one, so it's very possible he did that green cover. It does look similar... I tried to find the artist, but no luck.

  7. I like the UK cover better too!

    I haven't read Artemis Fowl yet- but I have most of the books in the series. I have been meaning to start them for ages.

    Glad to hear that this new series is off to a great start. Thanks for sharing!

  8. You're welcome--thanks for stopping by the blog!

    I'll bet it would be fun to read several Artemis Fowl books in a row...:-)

  9. I'll have to check this out. My daughter is super into this genre right now. cheers.

  10. You're welcome! It sounds like a good start to an exciting new series.