[Book Review] An agent and an assassin go time traveling

The Reluctant Assassin (W.A.R.P., #1)

Chevie is seventeen and already an FBI agent – except ever since a mission went disastrously awry, the FBI has done its best to bury their not-very-legal underage agents program, and Chevie along with it. Now Chevie’s been banished to London, assigned to babysit an old house with a weird steampunk-looking pod.

Two hundred years away and into the past, Riley finds himself clutching a knife, with Garrick, his master, urging Riley to make his first kill as his assassin apprentice. Except, Riley’s first kill goes terribly awry, and he is suddenly on a collusion course with Chevie and her modern reality.

Take a pinch of time travel, a dash of two words colliding, a secret government program, and two spunky character. Then add a murderous villain obsessed with a betrayal, a gang of angry rams, and a conspiracy that goes back to the future and forward to the past. And it’s up to Riley and Chevie to team up and stop all the crazy.

I’m a big fan of the Artemis series, but I’ve been skittish about Colfer other books. Grittier than I expected, The Reluctant Assassin still brings that Colfer charm that made me fall in love with Artemis Fowl.  Mind, it’s not Artemis Fowl rewritten in Victorian London. Riley is street smart and a survivor, not a billionaire genius. Chevie, though, is a bit of Juliet Butlet mixed with Holly Short, plus a bunch of new and awesome that makes her a memorable character on her own right.

Like other YA books by Colfer, The Reluctant Assassin brings lots of humor – witty dialogue and hilarious situations – and plenty of drama and mystery. Unlike a lot of what I’ve read by Colfer, there is more realism and angst in the plot as Riley struggles with his past and the villain becomes more villainous. While the basic premise behind the story is a bit convenient, once you get past the set up, the story is all attitude. It’s not afraid to kill off characters and it doesn’t pull punches. And when the characters do solve problems, it’s with their street smarts and spunk.

A couple canaries were lost for the convenient plot set up and a few odd complaints along the way, but once you move past that and into the actual story, it’s one that makes the rest of the canaries really, really happy.

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