Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review: "Orphan X" by Gregg Hurwitz

Holy freaking crap. This book absolutely rocked—every heart-racing, pulse-pounding second!

When Evan Smoak (not his real name) was young, a man rescued him from a troubled life. The man became a surrogate father to Evan, training him in every imaginable form of self-defense, weaponry, and intelligence. In short, he trained Evan how to kill, as part of an off-the-books program called the Orphan Program, which took children from difficult life situations and taught them to be employed as assassins. As far as the program was concerned, the Orphans were known only by letters—Evan became Orphan X.

Evan was one of the best assets the program had ever seen. Yet as he began to question who was hiring the Orphans to kill their targets, and why these people were selected, he realized that this wasn't the life for him.

But he needed to do something with his skills, so he became the Nowhere Man, the last resort for a person in desperate trouble. No one knows who the Nowhere Man is, but they know if they call him, he will help rescue them from a seemingly helpless situation. And all he asks in return is that the beneficiary of his services pay it forward, by passing his contact information to one person in need.

It's a fulfilling but lonely existence. He's become so good at compartmentalizing, at keeping the outside world at a safe distance, that he is utterly unprepared when complications in the form of personal connections start popping up. And then comes the ultimate test, when he realizes someone is hunting him, someone who knows he was Orphan X, and is using his work as the Nowhere Man to exploit and expose him. But suddenly all of the tricks and plans and rules he has followed don't seem to be working the way they usually do. Someone thinks the way he does, and is determined to destroy him.

Orphan X hit all of the right notes for me—fantastic action, more than a few twists, some excellent character development, and some pretty cool gadgetry. In lesser hands, Evan could have been turned into a stereotypical assassin-with-a-heart, but Gregg Hurwitz gave him a lot of complexity, which made him all the more fascinating.

If you like this type of book, pick up Orphan X. I had never heard of Gregg Hurwitz before reading this, and now, I believe, more people will know his name, because this is one that will knock you flat. (And I'm already casting the movie version in my head.)

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