Review: W.A.R.P. 1: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer
April 8, 2013
You know Oliver Twist. You remember The Matrix. Now imagine them together…
It all began with the F.B.I. and W.A.R.P. (Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme), hiding witnesses in the past to protect the future – until now… Riley is a Victorian orphan, hurtled to the twenty-first century and on the run from his evil master… Albert Garrick, the terrifying assassin-for-hire pursuing Riley through time, along with… Chevie Savano, the FBI’s youngest and most impulsive agent. As Garrick relentlessly hunts them down, Riley and Chevie face a desperate race to stay alive and to stop Garrick from returning to his own time – armed with knowledge and power that could change the world forever.
At the end of the Artemis Fowl series, I sat back and wondered, what will Eoin Colfer do next? I was a massive fan of the series, with the combination of fairy folk and weaponry; it really spoke to my love of magic, fun, adventure and the unexpected, which Colfer combined so masterfully.
W.A.R.P. is his next offering; it will be a series, and the first installment is titled The Reluctant Assassin. We have a female lead in Chevie, who did remind me of Holly Short of LEP Recon, in that she is skilled, tough, resourceful and working for an ‘agency’, and Riley, who reminded me of Artemis a little, although where Artemis was cunning and cynical and learned slowly to be positive and look on things more humanly, Riley already has those qualities. I didn’t find the slight resemblances problematic as they were only slight – Chevie and Riley are certainly their own individuals.
In the back of the copy kindly provided for review by Puffin, Colfer welcomes us to his new series “for lovers of time travel, adventure, intrigue, conspiracy, swashbuckling and magic with a few chuckles thrown in to the mix”. It’s really an excellent summary of what to expect from this new venture. I really enjoyed the mixture of moments of real horror, high-tech gadgets, and Victorian adventure, with the added bonus of some jokes that could only come from time-travelling conmen. There are lots of little details to make the reader laugh and smile, in amongst the truly creepy threat posed by Garrick through the book. I loved the names of some of the characters – Chevie’s London handler, code-named Agent Orange, and her FBI mentor, Cord Vallicose. Could you imagine a more all-American FBI name?
Albert Garrick really is a masterpiece – he’s a truly scary villain and Riley’s ever-present fear of him drives the tension of the book when the pace of the plot slows a little in the middle. In his trip from 1898 to the 21st century, he merges with dying FBI scientist Felix Smart and in the process learns all sorts of things he shouldn’t know and gains all sorts of abilities people shouldn’t have. This makes him extremely dangerous and a formidable foe for our intrepid duo, Chevie, still coming to grips with this strange new development, and Riley, terrified by the thought of the vengeance headed his way.
Chevie and Riley spend this first instalment of W.A.R.P. attempting to escape from and, eventually, neutralise Garrick, encountering a variety of strange and dangerous characters along the way. I’ll admit I was quite puzzled as to how this could possibly become a series – Garrick was one enemy, and, while extremely dangerous, still ultimately mortal and defeatable. But I loved the epilogue, which hinted at something much bigger in the background – this is surely what will expand to continue the story in future books. I was also really pleased to find that this was a whole story, with a real beginning, middle and end, rather than just an exposition, as is the case with some bestselling YA series now. The Reluctant Assassin is now out in hardback, and I’m happy to recommend it as the further follow-up to Artemis Fowl: Colfer is back.