My Name is O by Sam Enthoven
I geuinely have no idea how I’ve not reviewed this one before, since it’s one I frequently like to recommend in Real Life.
The story opens with O. Not 0, not Zero. Just O. Like the letter after P in the alphabet. And right now they are 15 years old and 189 metres above the ground, poised to break in to the Bank of England. Whilst they tackle that little matter, O explains to us exactly what you need to know before you break in to anywhere: what it’s budget is, and to remember that every door is meant to be opened – you just have to know what it’s weakness is. More importantly though, O is in the process of showing you, the reader, that everything you do in life, everything you think you choose of your own free will, has in fact been mapped out for you by your secret masters. They rule this world and have done for centuries and O is just one of the tools they use to do it. He is a Blank, and there is nothing more to know of him.
Well, I say him. To be fair, you never actually find out whether O is a boy or a girl. That’s the whole point of being a Blank – no identity whatsoever. No likes or dislikes, no preferences, no oddities, no quirks – just a blank template of a being. Except there’s more to O than just that – they’re on a misson and you’re right along with them as they creep through the plush interior of the Bank and the catacombs beyond that particular door O’s so focused on opening up (incidentally I love the description of the Bank of England and it’s difference to other banks, it gets quite atmospheric) .
It’s hard to write this review without giving too much away; it’s a book full of secrets and mystery, carefully teased out for the reader as O explains what they’re doing as they go along and why they’re doing it. For someone who is supposedly Blank, it’s very easy to fall in behind O and root for them as they carry out their mission.
In short, although I can’t tell you too much without giving it all away (and I mean all), this is a very atmospheric read, brilliant with descriptions of the interior of one of the most famous banks in the world (and how I do I wish half of the descriptions were true!) and with a curiously engaging mysterious main character. It’s well worth a read, if only to find out exactly why O is risking everything to break into such a stronghold in the first place – after all, what could a person with no likes or dislikes possibly want?
Oh, and for dyslexic readers, this happens ot have a Reading age of 8, Interest age of 12+. For non-dyslexics, be like me and read it anyway because I believe there are few exceptions to the idea that no story should be off limits, certainly not just because the pages are tinted and the words picked more carefully.
Find My Name is O here