Sunday, July 6, 2008


By Kevin Brooks


Robert Smith is the Jason Borne of teenagers.

Robert, 16, goes to the clinic for an endoscopy to diagnose what is giving him stomach troubles. The anesthesia does not quite do the trick so he can feel the pain, and worse, he can hear the surgeons aghast when they take a look inside him:

“Christ. What is that?”
“What the hell are you?”

Men in suits show up. They make demands:

“Open him up. . . . listen Professor. You are doing it now and you are doing it alone. . . . You cut that thing open now.”

As they slice in again Robert finds he can overpower the anesthetic. Indeed, he can inexplicably overpower his keepers, handle weapons, and control the situation like a pro. He gets himself sewn up, restrains the mystery men, and escapes. Next time he hears the news, the doctors in that surgery room are dead, and a manhunt is on for Robert Smith, murderer. What is going on?

He has been raised in a series of foster homes so he has no stable memories of anything in his past. He enlists help of a beautiful, brilliant and dangerous document forger who is first his hostage and soon enough, his romance. There are no official records; he has no history. The men on his trail also have no history. Their records have been wiped clean. They do not exist.

Robert is determined to find out who he is; and more importantly what he is. He thinks; he feels; he loves. Answers are not easy, and does it really matter?

Told with clear, visceral expertise you will want to turn the pages of this gritty story as fast as your pulse is beating. The book is ripe for discussions about identity and morality. Although it has few gluttonously graphic descriptions, it’s all here—violence, sex, drugs, intrigue. And if you read this book, you’ll have to deal with it.

Reviewed by Vivian

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