Boy No Feelings
Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff is about a teenager, who is a spy and has to go undercover to assassinate people. Doing this isn’t his choice, he was forced to become a spy by his parents’ killers when he was younger. The particular assignment of his that the book is about is when he has to kill the mayor of New York City. He is supposed to get close to the mayor through his daughter,Sam. For the assignment he goes by the name Ben. When Ben starts getting close to Sam, he really likes and cares for her but he still has to carry out his mission. After a few days, his mission gets changed. His new mission is to kill Sam. In the end of the book, Ben decides that he isn't going to let his feelings get in the way of his job, and he ends up killing her. This definitely surprised me because in most other books, Ben would have saved Sam and they would have run off together. Even though I liked Sam’s character, I was glad that this book wasn’t cliche.
A big idea in this book is discipline. Ben has to live by the rules his “Mother” and “Father” (Not his actual parents, the people that killed his real parents and give him his assignments) give him. If he breaks any rules or gives away his cover, they will kill him. But the more common form of discipline in the story is his self- discipline. He trains himself not to feel any emotions. Every person he kills is just another assignment. That’s why this assignment is so hard for him because he allows himself to have feelings for Sam, which makes killing her a thousand times harder. He also disciplines himself to not think of or remember his real parents. Every time he thinks of a happy time with his family, it is a reminder of what has been taken away from him. Ben’s self discipline is beneficial to him because even though he teaches himself to hide his emotions, that saves him from acting out which would have gotten him killed.
Another big idea in the story is guilt. At the end of the story, before Ben kills Sam and she finds out who he really is, she tells him that he doesn't have to kill her and that there is always a choice. There’s another character in the story that I didn’t mention before. Howard is a nerd that goes to school with Sam, he is always getting beat up but Sam defends him. Ben starts to get to know Howard too, and finds out that he is an expert hacker. Ben reveals his true identity to Howard and asks him to get some information for him. After Ben kills Sam, he needs to kill Howard too because he can't have his cover blown. But in the moment, Ben starts to feel guilt. Guilt is something Ben has taught himself not to feel but he feels it anyway. He remembers what Sam had said to him about there always being a choice and then he decides not to kill Howard afterall. The guilt of killing Sam helps Ben to not take an innocent life. I was surprised that Ben didn’t kill Howard but I was also proud of him in a way. Not killing Howard showed that he hadn’t completely forgotten that killing was a bad thing. Although not having emotions is a way for Ben to stay safe, I think it is good that he starts to feel guilt because without emotions, he was starting to become inhuman.
This book was a great read. I enjoyed it because it was suspenseful and action filled but also a love story. Do you think Ben having no emotions is a good or bad thing? Why? What do you think could happen if he started to be an emotional person?