Title: WARP: The Reluctant Assassin (WARP series, Book 1)
Author: Eoin Colfer
Genre: Science fiction
Published: May 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
Recommended for ages 12 and up
WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT?
Here’s a synopsis from the author’s website:
The reluctant assassin is Riley, a Victorian boy who is suddenly plucked from his own time and whisked into the twenty-first century, accused of murder and on the run.
Riley has been pulled into the FBI’s covert W.A.R.P. operation (Witness Anonymous Relocation Program). He and young FBI Agent Chevie Savano are forced to flee terrifying assassin-for-hire Albert Garrick, who pursues Riley through time and will not stop until he has hunted him down. Barely staying one step ahead, Riley and Chevie must stay alive and stop Garrick returning to his own time with knowledge and power that could change the world forever.
A QUICK 411… Eoin Colfer is well known for being the author of the Artemis Fowl series, which concluded in YEAR. He’s now started a new series for young readers, WARP. The Reluctant Assassin is the 1st book in the WARP series.
WHAT DID I THINK OF THE BOOK?
I really enjoyed the Artemis Fowl series and I like Eoin Colfer as a writer, so I was thrilled to hear about this new series of his. WARP is aimed towards young readers, but I think it might be better suited for an slightly older demographic than the intended… Perhaps something more of a PG-13 rating, I think. Considering that the title is for the first book is The Reluctant Assassin, there’s quite a bit of blood and killing. The title refers to a boy named Riley, who is being trained (unwillingly) by a not-at-all-reluctant older assassin who used to be a magician named Albert Garrick, who sees the boy as his “son.”
Okay, so what is WARP? It’ an eponym for Witness Anonymous Relocation Program, which is a covert operation by the FBI. These lines will give you a pretty good idea:
“Even John Gotti couldn’t have put a hit on someone in the nineteenth century, right? We sent the witnesses to the past with a handler and then we would bring them home to testify.”
“So, the FBI does witness protection in the past?”
“Yes. Would you like me to say it one more time?”
“No. I got it.”
I think it’s a clever idea. Hide witnesses in the past so they won’t get killed before testifying and stuff? Brilliant! It had that Back to the Future vibe going on (I love that movie).
Now, onto the main characters.
Agent Chevie Savano is a likeable enough character. Chevie is smart and is a skilled fighter. She comes from a Native American family. Her parents died when she was young; she is an orphan like Riley. She reminded me a bit of Juliet Butler from the Artemis Fowl series. Chevie has great potential to be a formidable FBI agent, if only she can take better control of her temper and sarcasm.
Garrick is very, very good at killing people, and he revels in it. He is one sick son of a gun. He is obsessed with Riley, and refers to him as his “family.” He tells Riley that he saved him from a bunch of cannibals when he was a baby and took him in. We later learn there is much more to this story that Garrick is keeping secret. It’s a big revelation about Riley’s background, actually. And I was not expecting it.
Riley is a clever boy, and he has a good heart. His parents died when he was very young. He is Garrick’s apprentice not only as an assassin but also as a magician, and he is talented. He knows his way well around Victorian London. What he knows about trickery, fighting, weaponry, he learned from Garrick.
Coming from the Victorian era, Riley speaks English from that era. It’s a bit hard to follow at times, but you’ll get the hang of it eventually. The story jumps back and forth from 1898 to the 21st century through the chapters. There are some flashbacks as well, so we get to learn a bit about Garrick, Chevie, and Riley’s backstories.
It starts off a little slow, but doesn’t take long before the adventure and time traveling starts. Assassins are involved, so there’s blood, gore, and violence (a woman cut in half, stabbing, etc). Quite a body count, there is. However, it isn’t too detailed to be overly graphic or gory — well, maybe except the parts when Garrick kills or reminisces about his kills… they are described a bit. I suppose that’s to establish how much of an evil monster Garrick has become. There’s mention of drinking to excess as well.
- Around her, bricks grated and plaster fell in chunks. That chunk looks like Texas, thought Chevie, because you can’t control what the mind throws up.
- Something sci-fi was going on here. It seemed the world as she knew it was not the world as it was.
- Orange smiled wryly and Chevie thought, not for the first time, that her partner had a wide variety of smiles, none of them very happy.
- “Then some bright spark had the idea to that we could stash valuable witnesses in the past.” – Agent Orange
- The old man’s secrets were magical ones, and the men would come because magic was power, which in turn was knowledge. And he who controlled knowledge controlled the world. Knowledge was a dangerous thing to have skittering around loose, and so men would come.
TO WRAP THINGS UP…
In a few words, I think I can sum up the book as follows: Assassins. Death. Murder. Blood. Deception. Magicians. Victorian London. Quantum physics. Time travel. FBI agents. 21st Century. Friendship.
I like Eoin Colfer. I think he’s a very good writer, and I like his writing style.
I liked Riley and Chevie. I think they made a good team. With a villain like Garrick who they just can’t seem to hide from or shake from their tail, I was most certainly rooting for them to get rid of the murderous magician. Especially Riley (he’s been through so much already!)
It was action-packed the moment Riley arrived in the 21st century. The characters had sufficient backstories, but I think more character development is in order. Since this will be a series, I suppose there will be more character development in the subsequent books, and I’m looking forward to learn more about Riley and Chevie and see them grow as characters.
I think it’s for slightly older kids than the intended target readers of the Artemis Fowl series. The publisher recommends it for kids ages 12 and up, which sounds suitable enough, but to be on the safe side, I think it should be something like a PG-13 rating because of the violence, blood and gore involved. Although in general, they’re not overly graphic.
I’m looking forward to learn more about WARP and the characters. I eagerly await the subsequent books in the series.