Tag Archives: Action

A Violent Book Made for Movies

I just finished a book for Middle Graders that had been on my to do list for a while.  And I am of two minds about this graphic romp through gore and terror.  Firstly, while this book can be found in the Junior Fiction section of the library and Bookstore, I highly recommend any parent read this one first before offering it to their child despite the marketing of Grades 3-7.  8-11 might be too young for this book.

House of Secrets
House of Secrets

House of Secrets, by Chris Columbus  (Author), Ned Vizzini (Author), Greg Call (Illustrator) 

Balzer + Bray, April 2013; Grade 3-7, 496 pgs (hardback)

Ok, where to start. First, Man was that a violent, graphically so, book! And I am somewhat horrified that it is marketed to middle graders. However, the ending in a way did make up for it, but at the same time What a Cop Out!

I have read that this is a set up for a direct to movie series which is why one of the producers of the Harry Potter Movies is listed as an Author.  So I am a little dubious as to weather this is really a book to be read, or just an elongated script….  But either way, I think they will be hard pressed to make this anything less than PG-13.

This book should only be given to mature older middle graders, and I am not sure teens will find much to like. There is little character development and what is there is rather two dimensional. I have said that junior fiction characters need to be rather two dimensional so I am not docking the book for its lack of character development. What upset me had more to do with the rather haphazard way the story went from one improbable impossible situation to the next with the children accumulating injuries that a hardened seal (military not the animal) would find difficult to carry on with.  And the deaths (multiple in this book) of characters in a middle grade book need to have meaning and purpose, not done simple to terrify the reader.  This is a Junior Fiction Book, not some Horror novel for adults.

Now I can’t say the next part without spoiling the ending so STOP READING IF YOU DONT WANT TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS>>>>>>

OK, a major pet peeve, even hate, of mine is any author who after putting the reader (and characters) through such extreme torture and hardship would simply go “oh oops poof, everything is back to the beginning”. I mean Bob Newheart got away with it all being a dream, but it is the ultimate cop out.  Paint (or write) yourself into a corner where the only possible solution is….a magical equivalent of a do over. Nothing infuriates me more. So between the violence and the ending this is only an average book.

I think boys especially will enjoy this as a rocking crazy adventure that never stops for a second. Parents please note this book talks about vivisection, torture of children, lots and lots of killing, and some very disturbing scenes including one where the oldest girl has to perform surgery on another person.  And a gun that never needs to be reloaded… I think if I were a younger child this book might give me nightmares, so hand this book with care.  But if your son or daughter is into action with little plot, then this book might be right up their alley.

I Am Nobody


I Am The Weapon by Allen Zadoff
I Am The Weapon by Allen Zadoff

I first read “Boy Nobody” over the summer of 2013.  I had enjoyed the teen political thriller so much, I was excited to see what I thought was a second book in the series when Netgalley blasted “I am the Weapon” by the same author.   I jumped at the opportunity to read it.  It turns out to be a rebranding of the original, so after rereading the whole book (it was worth it, even knowing the ending it was still a great read) I am going to review “I am the Weapon” by Allen Zadoff.

I am the Weapon by Allen Zadoff, Little, Brown Books (June 11, 2013)

Grades 9 and up.   352 (Hard Back)


I am the Weapon is a bit like what would happen if Jack Bower (of 24) was recruited at 12 and began secret missions for his country at 16.  Boy Nobody is an assassin.  He moves into a new place, befriends the son or daughter of his target and within weeks or days tragedy strikes and someone dies.  His weapon of choice a hypodermic disguised as a pen that injects a deadly toxin that causes death in seconds.  This is a fast paced thrill ride of a story.  The conversational tone and clipped dialog fits the characters and the almost inhuman task of making a child into the perfect killing machine.

It was so much fun following Nobody and learning how he assessed situations, and his tactics on human behavior are spot on.  As the story deepens and the plot twists come one after another you find yourself asking the same questions Nobody does and wondering “is this the right target?”   Mr. Zadoff does a fantastic job of balancing Nobody’s almost robotic “soldier” voice with his more human “am I doing the right thing?” questions about his training and purpose.   Also, for once flashbacks make sense as they add an almost PTSD element to Nobody’s psyche.  The story runs full tilt until a heart stopping ending that sent chills down my spine.

So I ask you to “Puzzle it Out”  and find if you have what it takes to survive life as “Boy Nobody”.

FYI ~The second book in the series is due to be released this year and is titled “The Lost Mission”.  It promises to be just as exciting as the first so look for it.

See a trailer for the book at:  http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/allen-zadoff/boy-nobody/9780316199681/

Parents note this book has a 16 year old as an assassin, and he does kill repeatedly, and some of the killings are graphic.  Also, there is sex, but it approaches it honestly for a teen book.   There is also underaged drinking and drug use.  These issues make this book not appropriate for younger readers, and I encourage you to discuss it with your kids because Nobody discusses it and struggles with it in his internal monolog.