The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer

Clever, fast paced, a little bit violent.
The Reluctant Assassin book cover

The Reluctant Assassin is Eoin Colfer's first attempt at establishing a YA series after concluding Artemis Fowl last year. Similar to the first book in the Artemis Fowl series, this book is good, not great, but has the potential to develop into a great series.

The Reluctant Assassin is set in a world where the FBI uses time travel as part of its witness relocation program. When an assassin Garrick and his reluctant trainee Riley are hired to take out one of the FBI handlers, it sets in motion a chain of events that sees both Garrick and Riley transported from Victorian England to present day England. With the help of teen FBI agent Chevie Savano, Riley is able to break free from the assassin Garrick, but both Riley and Chevie must run if they want to stay alive.

This book was always going to be compared with Artemis Fowl, and there are a number of similarities. The quick learning and very resourceful Riley is pretty much a 19th century Artemis with no training, Chevie is pretty much Holly Short as a human, and Garrick is very similar to Opal Koboi. They are still very well formed characters set in their own worlds with their own backgrounds, but at times it just feels a little too similar...

I did enjoy the time travel aspects, and the time spent in both modern England and Victorian England. I don't think Colfer was too concerned with regular time travel issues such as paradoxes or the butterfly effect, he just seemed to make a resilient time stream and told us to go with it (and I'm okay with that). I'm not sure if Colfer's application of the various methods of Victorian speech was accurate or stereotypical (or both), but I think it worked for this story and made the environment feel a lot richer.

I found the writing in this book to be rather chaotic and haphazard. There was very rapid shifts of viewpoint between characters throughout each chapter, and while it wasn't difficult to follow what was happening, it was very annoying. There was a plus side to this chaos, which was getting the opportunity to see inside all those different heads during each action sequence - Garrick in particular was a favourite viewpoint. I think I would have preferred less chaos and more structure, but that's just me - you might find this style of writing quite enjoyable.

I liked The Reluctant Assassin. It was clever, fast paced, a little bit violent, and kind of what you would expect from a Colfer book. That said, I don't think this book is as charming as Artemis Fowl, I don't care for the characters as much, and the plot was too simple for me. I will still recommend it, I think teens will love this book, and it has the potential to develop into a great series. But it's not quite there, yet.

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