Goodreads summary of Lone Wolf (Orphan X #9) By Gregg Hurwitz (review below):
Once a black book government assassin known as Orphan X, Evan Smoak left the program, went deep underground, and reinvented himself as someone who will go anywhere, and risk everything to help the truly desperate who have nowhere else to turn. Since then, Evan has fought international crime syndicates and drug cartels, faced down the most powerful men in the world and even brought down a President. Struggling with an unexpected personal crisis, Evan goes back to the very basics of his mission – and this time, the truly desperate is a little girl who wants him to find her missing dog.
Not his usual mission, and not one Evan embraces with enthusiasm, but this unlikely, tiny job quickly explodes into his biggest mission yet. one that finds him battered between twisted AI technocrat billionaires, a mysterious female assassin who seems a mirror of himself, and personal stakes so gut-wrenching he can scarcely make sense of them .
Evan’s mission pushes him to his limit – he must find and take down the assassin known only as the Wolf, before she succeeds in completing her mission and killing the people who can identify her – a teenaged daughter of her last target, and Evan himself. Matched skill for skill, instinct for instinct, Evan must outwit an opponent who will literally stop at nothing if he is to survive.
I want to note that while there are no spoilers for Lone Wolf in this review, there might be spoilers for other books in the series. Also, ninth book or not, if you want to try an Orphan X book out, you can read this on its own. Yes, there are things you’d miss, but not enough to take away from the plot. However, I suggest starting with the first book, Orphan X. It is completely worth the journey, nine books in.
Reason #1- Gregg Hurwitz
I don’t know what is in the water that Gregg Hurwitz drinks, but I want it. His genius is beyond comparison. There isn’t a better series going than the Orphan X Series. Book after book, for nine books, Gregg Hurwitz has provided series continuity and killer talent. Further, throughout the Orphan X series (I can imagine this only gets harder as the series gets longer), he has accomplished huge feats.
First, he intertwines the past and present. Second, he can keep the series both familiar and fresh. It just never gets stale, stalling out. Next, the overall character/plot arcs continue to progress over time while not losing new readers. Lastly, the way Lone Wolf sets up, what will be book 10 is heartbreaking.
There is more on all of this in each below section.
Link To Gregg Hurwitz Interview
Reason #2- Writing/Plot
Lone Wolf follows in the Orphan X series tradition, starting straight out of the cannon and then continuing a breakneck pace that holds you in its grips. As always, Gregg Hurwitz has done his homework, and it shows. Throughout the Orphan X series, he has demonstrated in-depth research that goes into the plot; Lone Wolf is no exception.
Additionally, the writing prowess displayed in Lone Wolf continues to mesmerize. Gregg Hurwitz seamlessly bounces from cinematic action scenes to dark humor, to the human side of life, to tension and suspense, and then back again.
Recent experience had taught him the two were intertwined: suffering and salvation.
‘Facial recognition for a dog?’ ‘Yeah, you canine-phobe. Dogs are people, too.’
Link to Orphan X Series and Review
Reason #3- Oh, The Humanity!
There are two parts in Lone Wolf that stick out as the best parts of the Orphan X series to date. This is the first one (the second one is reason #5). In Lone Wolf, Gregg Hurwitz provides us with the growing imperfections and vulnerabilities of the characters. One of the ongoing arcs for Evan Smoak is about retaining his humanity. He was told throughout his training that teaching him to be an assassin wasn’t teaching him how to kill, but how to retain his humanity.
And although he has always attempted to do so, a rigid dedication to the Ten Commandments of Orphan X (I’ll get to those in a minute) has made it hard for him to do so. Lone Wolf sees Evan Smoak, for the first time, question the commandment at times, noting that his instructors didn’t know everything. He also becomes more intertwined with his born and chosen family on an emotional level.
If I had a say, which I don’t. If Orphan X is ever turned into a TV Series or movie? These are my chosen actors for Evan and Joey.
Additionally, his side-kick, Joey, grows into her teenage stage, displaying care and concern for things that would have been unspeakable in the past. She wants to join a sorority, go out with her friends, and fitting in.
‘That’s what I told <Joey>. She said next to all them regular girls she feels weird. I said, ‘Guess what? Everyone’s fucking weird. Get rid of the weird parts that don’t suit you. And keep the weird parts that make you you. Then see where the chips fall. That’s it.’
Individually, they grow, but so do the dynamics of their relationship. It continues to grow, Evan feeling and admitting to more of an emotional stake in Joey. While he never uses the love word, he thinks it often (a brother/sister love, for clarification). Their continued ribbing of each other is still there. After Evan gets beat up by an old lady (yes.. he did), Joey won’t let it go. She can’t even ‘shit-talk’ him about it.
Thank you to Minotaur Books and Macmillan Audio for an advance copy of Lone Wolf, by Gregg Hurwitz, releasing on February 13.
‘It’s gotta escalate, right? Like you tell the story a little different every time, exaggerate it more and more. But you know what the thing is?’ He did not. ‘What happened to you, it’s so pathetic I can’t even exaggerate it. Like if you got beat up by two little old ladies with canes that would be less pathetic than what you pulled of. So, congratulations, X. You did it. You broke the space-time shit-talking continuum.’
Reason #4- Ten Commandments Of Orphan X
I have to say that these might be Orphan X’s ten commandments, but many of them are seriously life commandments. I have repeated them to myself on different days because shit. They are real. But that isn’t really what this section is about.
Many things are brought up and then dropped in a series, especially one as long as this. Ok. You might read about them again occasionally, but very inconsistently. Even though there are moments when Evan Smoak might question them, they remain the core of his character. From book to book, Gregg Hurwitz never lets them go. They continue to guide and sometimes frustrate Evan, but they remain his guiding principles.
Reason #5- Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Look. I’ll be honest. I bookmarked two chapters in Lone Wolf so much that I bookmarked more of the chapter than I didn’t. And while I could spit out quote after quote, I think this review is already over 1200 words (ending up at an over 1400-word count), so I’m going to get to it. By the way, this is my second favorite part of Lone Wolf, if not the series (that goes along with the humanity section).
For two chapters, Evan Smoak is forced into a room with a technical genius (I won’t say why), and he pontificates on all that media, social media, apps, and our willingness to sign over our data for convenience. If you watch Marvel, think of Sitwell explaining the Zola algorithm, except on speed.
It goes into everything from how medications are introduced that need further medication to control side effects and how the food industry pushes toward diabetes. These chapters run circles around what our phones, social media, and apps do to our self-esteem, lives, and ability to think for ourselves, how messages are dropped and targeted to you based on all the gleaned data that you willingly sign over without a second thought. It is awareness without preaching, comprehensive but not overdone. In short, it is something we all know somewhere deep inside, but Gregg Hurwitz writes the quiet part out loud.
Ok. This review is over 1400 words and needs to end. Thankfully, I don’t know what else I can say without spoilers or just becoming long-winded. Whether Lone Wolf is a starting point for you, or you’ve been on the entire Orphan X journey? This is a phenomenal read.