I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I don't really do thrillers. But this one isn't just a thriller... it's a handbook. And I bought it in HARDCOVER.
They pass unseen through the hallways of the most important corporations in the country, catering the wealthy and worldly with their morning Starbucks and printing copies before afternoon meetings. Nameless and unpaid, their efforts go mostly unremarked by their higher-ranking superiors... that is, of course, what makes them such lethal assassins. It's what makes John Lago the world's deadliest intern.
The narrator is perfect. The swear words proliferating the dialogue may put off some readers, but being that he's supposed to be 25 years old, it just makes his language more appealling. And he's a total smart-ass, which I love. All in all, the language he uses - from swearing to the way he relays anecdotes of his work in the field - sounds like somebody I know is telling the story.
Which makes sense, because it really is a coming-of-age novel: at the age of 25, John is worrying about transitioning into the job pool, meeting a nice girl, figuring out who he is in relation to the rest of the world, while questioning his origins with a mother who died before giving birth to him and a father he never knew. Not exactly Catcher in the Rye, but definitely a quest of self that would be recognizable to anyone going through the same life experiences, just framed through the lens of a sniper's sightpeice.
The punches weren't taken lightly, and the emotional manipulation was at an all-time high. This book was brutal in its unrestrained and well-documented violence, and instead of miraculously fixing all of his problems and injuries with the start of a new chapter, he really felt the impact of what he was going through. It was, honestly, refreshing to see a character get so beat up, and actually feel like he was getting beat up.
Which is funny, because - while this kid is no superhero - in reading, I kept referring back to my action home base of the Marvel Universe for comparison. The troubled upbringing and assassin background Natasha Romanoff, the wonderkid back-talking of Spiderman, and the double agent conflicted-about-a-love-interest trope of Grant Ward of Agents of Shield (in fact, one particular scene from John's past was practically identical to a scene involving Grant and Garret from AoS) . I felt totally at home with this character, because he was an amalgamation of some of my very favorite super-people.
The only thing that left me feeling some kind of underwhelm was the ending. I just didn't feel like everything was resolved all that well.... especially after a ship-rocking plot twist or two during a final standoff left me with more questions than answers.
Final Verdict: BANG BANG. This movie-lover's shootapalooza packs a one-two punch of meta-referential gunslinger references and relatable twenty-something bildungsroman cynicism. I would definitely read it again!