This book continues the story that began with I Am the Weapon. Zach, 16, is an assassin for The Program, a shady black-ops type organization that professes to be carrying out patriotic missions to protect national security. All Zach really knows is that he has no other choice in the matter. His parents are presumed dead, and he was commandeered into The Program and trained for two years. Each time he receives a new assignment, he is given a new identity, goes to a new place, insinuates himself close to the target, and then surreptitiously eliminates that target.
In this installment, Zach, now “Daniel,” is sent to a military camp for teens in rural New Hampshire. Camp Liberty is a training facility for the children of right-wingers. Daniel’s job is to kill the head of the camp, Eugene Moore. The Program has detected evidence of a plan by Moore and his followers to carry out a terrorist operation somewhere in the Northeast. The previous assassin assigned to the case went missing after infiltrating the camp, something which has never happened before. Daniel is assigned to finish the job.
Moore is better protected than Daniel expects, and as happened with his previous assignment, Daniel is forced to deviate from the plan, something that doesn’t go over well with The Program. He gets into trouble, and can’t reach his usual contacts in The Program. He decides to call upon Howard, a geeky tech friend he made in New York on his last assignment. Daniel is not supposed to make friends, nor to let anyone else know what he does, but he has made an exception for Howard. Howard takes the train to Manchester to provide tech support for Daniel.
Meanwhile, Daniel’s mission continues to spiral out of control, and he increasingly loses the ability to figure out truth from manipulation, traitor from patriot, or friend from enemy. He also is desperate that Howard not die just because Zach took a chance and made a friend. But the only thing Daniel knows for sure is that he can’t control what happens until he finds out the truth about his life.
Evaluation: This story got off to a slow start for me, but I’m glad I stuck with it, because the suspense and pace picked up greatly in the second half, and had me whipping through the pages. In addition, the reappearance of the character of Howard provided a welcome “normalization” in a plot otherwise full of people unlikely to be encountered in real life.
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, 2014