Friday, 17 May 2013

Book Review - The Reluctant Assassin

Title: The Reluctant Assassin
Author: Eoin Colfer
Series: W.A.R.P
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 11 April 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0141341750

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 Review
I got an e-copy of this through NetGalley to review.
I read the Artemis Fowl series by Colfer and really enjoyed them so was excited to see what he would do next. I saw this advertised and thought it sounded quite good. I'm never really a fan of time-travel stories but if they are done right I can get by, and besides I love things set in the Victorian era (not sure why but anyway) so I got ready to enjoy this new book.
I have to admit that I didn't particulary enjoy it though. I found the basic plot idea fascinating but it seemed to pass very slowly. I was checking the percentage progress through the book so often I felt like the pages were hardly moving. The set up was good and the whole world is built well, but it then turned into a cat and mouse game. Garrick would chase Riley and Chevie and almost catch them, they would escape at the last minute and he would chase them again, and so on, repeat. Yes the circumstances they escaped from were different but it didn't make much difference to me. I just wanted them to either beat him or be captured and get it over with. 
As for the characters, they remained that, characters. Usually when I read I connect to the people and they become real, leaping off the page but these didn't seem to do that, the closest to it happening was Riley, he had a certain charm, he was a loveable rogue. but that wasn't enough to make me really care.
Garrick himself confused me, he went by a few different names, I think! I got muddled with references to things/people and places in the past. Then I wasn't sure if he was jsut a magician or if he actually had special powers or whether he was something worse, Colfer often refers to him as 'it was like the Devil himself was after us'. He had strange skills and would do illusions (which again confused me) and seemed to be able to do things and know things that wasn't normal. Some of it is explained by the process in the Time machine, but the rest was just strange.
Chevie, although written as 17 seemed older to me, she has worldly experience and a sharp tongue and she just read as at least 20. She was a bit moany and irritated me a little bit. I did like the way she takes charge in the 'past'  and takes Riley under her wing. 
Parts of the book seemed to pick up and I would start to dive in, then I would get turned around or they would run around 'escaping' again and I would sigh
This book took me the best part of a week for me to read, which for me is really slow, I just didn't feel the need to pick up the book and continue it. Instead of snatching any minute I could to read, i would look for something else to do to put off having to pick it up again.
Maybe it just wasn't the book for me, but I really struggled with it. 
I know Colfer is a fab writer, he's shown that before but this time for me it just fell flat. 
Also, I'm not sure if this is supposed to be YA or Middle Grade, but it had a lot of gore in it. And I mean a lot, I was shocked by it. There are a lot of deaths and killings but some of them described in more detail than I felt necessary. At one point he describes how to pick the correct knife to kill someone, to make sure it cuts through muscle and bone. That's just gross. I mean there are a lot of books with fighting and blood in, but they are usually against monsters or zombies or something, it's different, not quite as real. I was surprised by it.

Anyway, the idea was good and it had it's moments, but for me this book just didn't make me go WOW. 

My Rating    

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