Often I find stories including teen protagonists capable of sophisticated adult thinking and action, unbelievable. Yet Allen Zadoff has pulled it off in The Hit.
When Boy Nobody ‘s parents are killed (or at least he believes them to have been so) at the age of twelve, by the boy he believes to be his best friend, Boy Nobody is taken into a “The Program.” In it, he learns how to assassinate others at the bidding of those in charge—those he now calls “Mother” and “Father.” To be successful, he has to be able to work on his own, cover his tracks, and move on from job to job without leaving suspicion behind. Zadoff has made all this believable through the use of the smallest details that Boy Nobody (known as “Benjamin” throughout most of this story) has been taught—details that a teen could fully embrace. For example, Ben knows that “when in doubt,” he should “emulate.” It is interesting to see this concept played out so successfully in this story. Another simple lesson Ben knows is how to appear a regular teenager so others will trust him—though they should not.
Ben is given five days instead of the usual three months or so, to complete an assignment. The setup is believable: the member of The Project responsible for the murder of Ben’s parents is the person who brings him into the ranks of The Project. Though Ben’s memories of his former life tickle at the edges of his consciousness from time to time, the training he endured left him able to read situations and react quickly. What I liked best about The Hit, were these simple “rules” Boy Nobody learned, such as emulating others, concentrating power rather than diffusing it, identifying the advantage one has when others underestimate him, turning “chance” in your favor when the unexpected occurs, or using the fact that when one sees something beyond his ability to comprehend, his mind interprets the occurrence as a “joke.” With his new assignment, Ben must use these and other skills he learned to infiltrate at a school. From there, his target is the parent of one of the other students. But this time, the plans change, and Ben must determine who the real enemy is in time . . .
I thought the Boy Nobody character was well designed. The dialogue between the students was believable. Boy Nobody’s inner thoughts of questioning what he was doing and why, drove the story. All in all, I kept turning pages, more quickly as the story progressed. I believe Zadoff will find he has a “hit” with The Hit.