I Am the Weapon (Unknown Assassin series, Book 1), by Allen Zadoff
(Note that this was originally released under the title “Boy Nobody.”)
There are a lot of teen spy novels out there: hapless teen is living his regular life one day, and the next day he is thrown into being a spy, which is a life filled with adventure, secret bases, high tech gadgetry, and overly dramatic bad guys. (Cherub, Department 19, Alex Rider, H.I.V.E., and so on.)
This teen is different. He’s no light-hearted Joe bumbling through his life. This teen is serious. This teen is a pure assassin; no regrets, no feelings, no sympathy. Get close to the target, kill, and move on to the next job. He didn’t really have much choice but to become an assassin and, to tell the truth, hasn’t had much of an urge to be introspective about it. As a basis for a character, it’s brilliant. The main character does, as you may suspect, start to question his life choices and the choices that are made for him. The bad guys and good guys become less clear, instead of more clear, as the novel moves along, and the reader navigates the main character’s reality as it starts to shift beneath him.
It’s a fun read, but it’s also got a unique perspective that brings it above other novels in this genre. If you’ve enjoyed any of the teen spy novels out there, you’ll love this one.
I’ve since read the other novels in this series. They aren’t quite to the level of book 1, mostly because the concept and character are no longer new, but the quality of the series remains high.