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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Time-Travelling Teen Teams with Adolescent Anglo Assassin from Ages Ago (by Artemis Fowl's Author)

Colfer, Eoin (2013) Warp:  The Reluctant Assassin.  New York:  Hyperion.



Opening Line:  "There were two smudges in the shadows between the grandfather clock and the velvet drapes.

17 year old Chevron Savano is an FBI agent.  She was recruited as part of a plan to use teenagers to investigate high school students being recruited into terrorist groups.  Because of a mistake she made, she is now babysitting something called a WARP pod in a beautiful house in London, and going stir crazy.  The head agent tells her "On most days a man probably won't come out of the WARP pod, so you don't have to do anything except study for your diploma.  But on the off chance that this very special man does emerge from that hatch wehn I am out, you need to keep him alive.  Just keep him alive and call me.  That's it."

Young Riley lives in London in 1898.  He doesn't remember his parents.  He is apprenticed to a man named Albert Garrick.  Garrick is teaching Riley to be an underworld assassin.  Riley doesn't want to kill anyone, but he knows his craft, and he is terrified of Garrick.  On the night when Riley is supposed to pass Garrick's final test for him and kill his first victim, something very strange happens before Riley makes an attempt.  The next thing Riley knows he is in a new London that he doesn't recognize with a man dying in front of him and a strange girl taking him into custody as a murderer. From that point, the story really picks up speed.

Like Colfer's wonderful Artemis Fowl books, this first book in the WARP series features both a strong male and female protagonist, a smart and diabolical enemy, and plenty of twists and turns that require the reader to be on her or his toes.   Fans of Fowl may like this book quite a lot.  So will young readers who like a book to be credibly scary, but turn out all right in the end.

There is nothing in this book that would cause it to be challenged, except maybe some violence and a truly frightening, amoral, and violent villain.  I still think Artemis Fowl might be a better series to start most readers on, but if they loved that one, they might like this one too.  And if they are inclined more toward realistic thrillers than fantasy, this might be an easier Colfer series to start them on. Although strong fourth and fifth grade readers could certainly handle the reading level on this one, it seems to me it might be more appropriate for middle school and up.

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