Jimmy Coates: Killer

“He coiled his body into a ball and shut his eyes tight. The two men were stunned as Jimmy smashed through the window. Glass shattered everywhere and Jimmy felt it falling with him. The air was suddenly cold. He screwed his eyes shut harder and waited to hit the ground.”


NOTE: if you were linked to this review, welcome to II! I hope you enjoy this and stick around. We’re all lovely folks that adore our reading and writing, and would love to have you on the forum — come say hi!


Jimmy Coates: Killer is set in the unspecified, but not far off, future of Britain. At 11 years old, Jimmy Coates discovers that he has been grown, genetically modified, to be the perfect assassin. He is only 38% human. Faced with a unsavoury future, Jimmy rebels against the path laid out for him, but who can he trust?

At first glance, this is your average spy thriller novel, and to some degree, it fulfills all the tropes. Witticisms, action, adventure, conspiracies, twists, everything that a spy action thriller should have is present in this book.

Yet somehow, it subverts some of these.

By making Jimmy Coates 11 years old, it presents an actually interesting scenario: for one thing, Jimmy is not some know-it-all teenager. He is distinctly a child, and although he tries to be brave, acts appropriately. Craig picks up on this in one scene that is hilarious for the older reader, and really indicates that two of the main characters are so young. Not only is it funny, but it does show that Craig has not given the main character an arbitrary age and just got on with the story. For those moments where Jimmy can’t be 11, a thoroughly good explanation is given.

And that leads me to my next point: yes, the plot is absolutely ridiculous, but that, surprisingly, does not matter. Craig gives you the wobbly justification for the plot and then grabs you by the hand and pulls you through this exciting world full of skittles, rainbows and unicorns with guns. And he does it so seamlessly, you don’t stop to question how the unicorns can fire guns when they only have hooves.

Because that’s the thing: you don’t need to question. This book is one of the many personifications of Fun.

Still, when you’re skipping over the rainbow bridges, you do suddenly realise that they’re not all Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain. The political environment that Craig creates is thoroughly intriguing, and in a way, far more subtly terrifying than 1984 could ever be.

The writing is smart, tight and not at all purple, which is unsurprising given its target age group, but it is worth mentioning.

I’d suggest buying it, but I know that it was never really released in the US, so have a look in your library if you just want a break from reading War and Peace.

Personal highlight: a character called Saffron Walden.

Saffron. Walden.

How British can you get?


DISCLAIMER: book range is 8-12 year olds. I don’t care.

I have written two reviews for Jimmy Coates: Killer. This review is my preference, I like to judge a book on its own merits. The second, however, is more of a comparative review with other similar novels (notably Alex Rider), which everyone seems to mention at least once in reviews.

Jimmy Coates v. Alex Rider.

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  1. Chant on 16 August 2010, 19:52 said:

    Unicorns with guns? I’m in!

    I think we could all benefit from reading something in the 8-12 age range every once in a while :)

  2. Puppet on 16 August 2010, 22:37 said:

    I want moar Abstract Bookcase.

  3. No One on 17 August 2010, 06:01 said:

    unicorns with guns.

    Eh? Unicorns with guns?


    Awesome! Do they sell in Australia? Oh whatever, I can ask my uncle to buy me one.

  4. Loni on 17 August 2010, 06:51 said:

    They do in fact sell in Australia – I found it in my school library, like 2 years ago.

  5. Jeni on 17 August 2010, 06:57 said:

    DISCLAIMER: There may or may not be unicorns.

  6. Jeni on 17 August 2010, 16:53 said:

    Loni, yeah, they’re a bit old. But Joe Craig can be super cool so I like to give props to authors that deserve it.

    Plus, he’s a Cambridge-boy. I have a certain loyalty to that lot, bunch of silly tossers.

  7. Chris on 18 August 2010, 04:29 said:

    You can’t buy the books in the States but this English website has the whole Jimmy Coates series (all 6 books) and they ship anywhere in the world for free! So you can read the whole series without it costing more than it costs English people:

  8. Jeni on 18 August 2010, 08:14 said:

    Thanks, Chris!

    I always forget about the Book Depository, it’s a great site. Direct link to the Jimmy Coates books on sale here.

  9. falconempress on 18 August 2010, 15:59 said:

    I was never much into the genre of the teenage superspies or children saving the world – at all – but you had me at the unicorns shooting people.

  10. Jeni on 18 August 2010, 16:30 said:

    It’s a little known fact that unicorns have surprisingly flexible hooves.

    They’re also the power behind the throne.

    Every throne.

  11. falconempress on 19 August 2010, 00:50 said:

    True dat.

  12. Steph (what is left) on 5 September 2010, 06:52 said:

    I love kids’ books. Am totally reading this.

  13. Jeni on 5 September 2010, 10:07 said:

    Childrens books make my mind a more comfortable place to live in.