A highly trained human weapon, à la Jason Bourne, receives his mission: Join a boy band or die.
During yet another stint in juvie, Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson (code name “Bobby Sky”) is kidnapped and enlisted in a covert training program. Who is behind the program, and why, after Hutch has done everything right, are they trying to kill him? Action-packed and snarkily humorous, Bobby Sky smartly strikes all of the markers of the covert agent story—bad boy with a heart of gold, training montage, tons of cool gadgets, and intrigue galore—and should find its readers. Regrettably, it also replicates the genre’s most predictable and odious tropes. Female characters serve primarily as love interests (albeit badass ones), and the novel fails the Bechdel test. Hutch and the majority of speaking characters are white by default, with the exception of one-note fellow boy band members Karim (Moroccan), Amit (Indian), and Ryo (Japanese). Shine (I Become Shadow, 2014) mashes up the best hits of Asian women stereotypes (inscrutable, technophile, temptress) in Akiko, Bobby Sky’s Bond babe, replete with chopsticks in her hair. The biggest disappointment may be the story’s lack of resolution. Recounted almost entirely from the confinement of a cell, the brief bit of contemporary action acts to reframe the entire novel as a trailer for another installment—this piece doesn’t really stand alone.
An entertaining but ultimately unsatisfying addition to the crowded genre. (Thriller. 12-18)