Book Review: Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

Orphan X is the first book in the Orphan X series featuring Evan Smoak, also known as the Nowhere Man. It’s an action thriller featuring a man spoken only in whispers with a very high-level set of skills called upon by those in the most desperate circumstances looking for his help. Cool premise huh?

Orphan X book review
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In my attempt to try out all the different notable entries in the action/thriller genre, Orphan X was a book that kept popping up on lists on books of this genre as one that should definitely be considered. When I read the premise above, I was instantly intrigued and so keenly picked it up on Kindle and read through it in a few days.

Plot – 4/5

Orphan X introduces us to the character of Evan Smoak, also known as The Nowhere Man – someone whose name is only discussed in whispers as someone who can help you out no matter the situation. You call him and if he considers your case serious enough, he will come. Only pass his number onto those who really need his help. Raised as an orphan as a child and trained since a young boy to be the ultimate killing machine, he’s a dangerous man who you really wouldn’t want to mess with. However, there’s far more to the story that stops this from being a basic “good guy who’s a badass beats-up bad guys”. Embroiled in this back story is his mentor who Evan sees as a father figure, one with whom a relationship forms that was likely not the intention when Evan was brought into the programme. Evan broke away from the orphan programme after no longer wanting to be involved – however many years later it appears they may have found him and be right on his tail.

It’s a genuinely gripping tale filled with not only cool action scenes but heart too. There’s a side story that accompanies the main tale that gives us a look into Smoak away from the action, allowing us to build an opinion on his character. This not only gives us a different viewpoint to the action scenes that take place but it gives us the main character in an action series who we genuinely like.

Characters – 4/5

As mentioned above, Evan Smoak in Orphan X is really well written. Hurwitz gives us Smoak’s thoughts as different events happen. He gives us an insight into Smoak’s opinions, his reactions to events and much more. This gives us a far deeper look into a character that has all the right to be a carbon copy of any of the other action heroes we find in these types of books but simply isn’t. On top of this, he has Smoak go through quite a personal experience that has you genuinely drawn in and flipping through the pages to find out the result.

Without giving away too much of the plot or characters, I must say that the villain of Orphan X was a little disappointing. I wasn’t particularly convinced by their motives and I didn’t particularly care for them. However, there is definitely a sense that this isn’t the focus of the book and that there’s a much larger problem going on than the one villain may suggest.

The additional characters that accompany Evan including a possible love interest and his mentor all give you better insights into Evan’s character and how he is with different people – building further onto the layers of his personality. They’re all distinct and have their own motives and reactions that make their personalities feel genuine and believable – which is all you can really ask for supporting characters.

Summary – 4/5

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Orphan X. I had heard good things about it, so went in with some fairly high expectations and came out with those expectations met. I’d say if you’re looking for your usual action thriller book but with more heart and personality, I’d definitely recommend picking up Orphan X. You’ll not only find in Evan Smoak the usual cool, suave character we’re used to but you’ll also find a sensitive and genuinely likeable main character too.

The plot is a tad thin but, being the first in the series, it’s a great introduction with some backstory, a gripping relationship-focused main plot and a lot of twists and turns that will make sure you want to pick up the sequel and subsequent books too.

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